(Guest writer Marisa Treviño blogs at Latina Lista)
A lot of things can be said now about former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales – and a lot of people are saying them.
But if there was one point that no one can dispute, it was his loyalty to the President.
In fact, it’s fair to say that Alberto was loyal – to a disgraceful fault.
Rightly or wrongly, because there are still too few highly accomplished Latinos in the public arena, whether it be politics, sports, entertainment, etc., there exists a collective pride among Latinos when “one of our own” makes it.
That should have been the case with Alberto Gonzales.
His kind of background – one of eight children of Mexican migrant parents, who worked his way up through school, weekend jobs and military service – is routinely held up as a model within the Latino community as evidence that realizing the American Dream is not just a dream but can be a reality, our reality because a boy like Alberto proved it true.
Those kinds of stories are legacies unto themselves and if Alberto had followed the usual course of not just achieving success but being a Latino of strong character who upheld the principles of integrity, ethics and justice to serve ALL people, and not just himself or one man or one administration, Alberto could have lived off his legacy like former sitcom stars who live off the residuals of their syndicated shows.
But he didn’t. He chose to turn a blind eye to “truth and justice” and the whole world witnessed what a lap dog with a Hispanic surname sounds like when trying to defend acts of torture, or the mistreatment of prisoners, or the firing of nine U.S. attorneys because they had the misfortune of not belonging to the right party.
According to historians, Alberto was “one of the most influential Hispanic officials in the history of United States government,” and he certainly knew how to lick the hand that fed him.
He did it without conscience or thought as to what others thought of him, especially his community-at-large.
Some in the Latino community say that Alberto only remembered to be Latino when it was to his political advantage – or used it for someone else’s.
Maybe so. Maybe Alberto is one of those guys for whom there is never enough distance between their hard-scrabble upbringing and the world of money and connections they eventually slithter themselves into.
But when that much distance is put in between where you came from and who you become, you can’t help but lose a big chunk of yourself along the way.
And in the process, you don’t know where you belong.
For a son of Mexican migrants, at a time when it’s these very people who are being persecuted, hunted down and corralled into prison camps (including children), the impact of what Alberto lost and the power that he could have utilized to make a difference in this persecution may finally be brought home to him – if only he had remembered where he started.
Image from Charles Dharapak/AP, File