For several years, if not decades, American society has been living in a state of dissonance. As Americans, we worship the motto of E pluribus unum, but are distrustful of each other and characterize each other as “givers” and “takers.” We cherish our democracy, but do not trust “government,” and allow for the manipulation of the electoral mechanism. We praise the American worker, but hesitate to establish a living wage and deny them the power to organize. We relish “America the Beautiful” but criticize government when it attempts to curb pollution and permit the destruction of our “spacious skies,” and “mountain majesties,” and the fields of “amber waves of grain.” We revere the concept of equality but are caught in a systemic web of intolerance and discrimination that we seem powerless to eradicate. We glorify the immigrant as being the building block of our society, but rail against the newcomers from south of the border.
Most of us have that feeling that “something is wrong” with America, but we have not taken the time to determine what it is that has soiled our civic and political culture. In “Searching for America in the Streets of Laredo,” the author confronts this political and cultural dissonance as it pertains to the Anglo American narrative of equality, individual liberty and fundamental rights and the Mexican American experience. It is a search that touches on the very soul of American democracy.
This “Search for America in the Streets of Laredo” then, is the author’s quest for America’s authenticity, an attempt to harmonize the glorified American ideology with the country’s history, culture and actions. Only if America is true to its narrative can the United States go from being a world power which depends on force, to a world authority which leads through respect.