Good morning, everyone! Happy Cinco de Mayo! I'll be talking more about Cinco de Mayo later today, but for now, sit down, have a bowl of menudo (especially if you're fighting a hangover from celebrating the end of the work week), maybe with some Mole Poblano de Guajolote, and kick back for a bit.
By the way: If you're glad that the North won the Civil War, you should be celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Why? Because it helped ensure that the North won. See, in 1862, Emperor Napoleon III, destined to be France's last Emperor (that is, assuming Sarkozy doesn't go totally nuts on us should he win the upcoming runoff election), had aligned France with the Confederates. He wanted the Cons to be able to use Mexico as a safe haven from which to launch attacks against the US. (He also wanted most of Mexico as his own plaything, of course.) To accomplish this, he decided to invade, using as a pretext the Mexican government's decision not to pay off its ruinous load of foreign debt. He expected the invasion, which he started in January of 1862, to be over in a matter of months, but the unexpected Mexican victory on May 5 ("Cinco de Mayo" in Spanish) threw some unexpected sand in his gears, and he spent the next four years bogged down in an unwinnable war until he finally gave up and withdrew, leaving his puppet Maximillian to take the fall.
While you're sipping your menudo and thinking about how the Mexicans helped advance the cause of freedom — both their own and ours — you might want to contemplate the ways in which various people are trying to frighten us into giving up these hard-won freedoms. A few weeks ago, my co-blogger MEC over at Mercury Rising did a post entitled "The Criminalization of Everyday Life". It's a wide-ranging post, covering everything from the silly things we do in the name of airport security, to the hassles in getting a passport just to go to Canada, to being unable to board an airplane because your name is on somebody's no-fly list, to the peril involved in even trying to get a new driver's license after moving from one state to another.
But try not to get too depressed over this: For today is Cinco de Mayo, and like the outgunned, outnumbered Mexicans of 1862, we have only begun to fight back!