Last week's column regarding Mexican immigration and the idea, as expressed by former U.S. diplomat David Timmins, that many Mexicans are taught that the Western United States was stolen from them in the war of 1846-47 prompted a flood of e-mails no fence could keep out. I'm going to get out of their way and quote from them:

• "You could have pointed out that in July of 1847 when Brigham Young entered the Salt Lake Valley he was actually illegally entering the country of Mexico without proper documentation and brought with him thousands of illegal immigrants."

• "The empire of the Aztecs never extended more than 250 miles north of what is today Mexico City. The Apache, Comanche and Navajo are unrelated to Aztecs or Mayas in the same way as Basques are unrelated to Latvians. Not only did Mexico never have effective control over the lands north of the Rio Bravo, those lands were never referred to as 'Mexico' prior to 1824 . . . because Americans are so ignorant of the history of their own country the myth that we 'stole' something from Mexico has gained credibility."

• "My question is how do we preserve our national identity, strength and vitality without becoming ethnic monsters? Is that possible, or is there place for some degree of righteous anger in the defense of our country against invaders?"

• "Your column confirms the point I made in my article which appeared on 2/9/06 in Harvard Law School's newspaper 'The Record,' entitled 'Examine Mexico's Real Intent Before Reforming Immigration.' . . . The recent massive demonstrations of people with many carrying Mexican flags support the point I tried to make in the article." (From Yeh Ling-Ling, executive director of the Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America, Oakland, Calif.

• "We can't still be fighting over who took what land from whom. The Croats, Bosnians and Serbs have been doing this for centuries, as have the Hungarians and Romanians, and it hasn't gotten them anywhere or resolved anything. The borders are where they are and all of us need to obey the laws of the country we are in."

• "As you know, England, Spain, France, etc., sent explorers, I'll call them plunderers, to the new world and they went ashore and arrogantly stuck a flag staff into the ground and claimed it in the name of the country from which they came, disregarding the rights of the existing inhabitants as if they did not exist."

• "We just did to the Mexicans 150 years ago what they (and the Spanish) did to the Native Americans 300 years ago."

• "It's true that we did have a war in 1846-47, but a peace treaty was signed Feb. 2, 1848. The fact is that the USA paid $15 million and the boundary lines were drawn becoming what is now the border between us and Mexico with the Gadsden Purchase Dec. 30, 1853. I fear that there are too many U.S. citizens who don't know about that purchase and are allowing compassion to cloud judgment. The Mexican government did not let compassion stand in the way of driving every American out of Mexico in 1912. My step-grandmother was one of the victims."

• "My ancestors were Native Americans that married Spanish colonists. We were labeled Spanish Americans by the American government but the truth is we were actually Native Americans. . . . I firmly believe that the government of Mexico has brainwashed their citizens into believing that American land was once theirs so that Mexican citizens will immigrate here and fight for something that was NOT THEIRS."

• "As a history teacher, I've learned that most of the Mexicans (and Americans) I've taught know very little about their own history. So, to say that all Mexicans have this overarching payback agenda and are here to take back 'their land' is a gross exaggeration."

• "I live in New York City. . . . (A)fter reading your article (which someone sent me) I'm beginning to think, 'Ah, this is what it's been all about! A secretive, silent movement to infiltrate the northeast! Even though the populace here may be from Central America and Puerto Rico, sooner or later they will join up with their hombres from Mexico and yikes!! . . . It's the Hispanic version of 'The War of the Worlds!!' "

• "It seems the Mexicans also have a doctrine of Manifest Destiny."

• "I recall a story from P.J. O'Rourke wherein two Mexicans were complaining that the U.S. had stolen so much of their country and one sadly noted, 'Yes, and they stole the part with the good roads and drinkable water.' "

• "I recognize that feeling of inherent superiority as to any particular immigrant on the basis of race, ethnic origin, etc., is evil and invidious, but I will go to bed tonight serenely confident of the superiority of the political culture of ANY English-speaking country over that of Mexico. I suggest that if too many unassimilated immigrants descend upon our country, then we will end up more like Mexico than the country we have had for over 200 years."

• "This jingoistic nonsense sweeping the country will come back to haunt us. It is pure racism and there is no other word for it."


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.