I wholly disapprove of what you say and will defend to the death your right to say it. – Voltaire
One of the best things about living in a foreign country is the fresh experiences. Doing stuff like visiting famous attractions and learning new languages. Or taking exciting road trips, eating exotic foods, or banging foreign sluts.
Other times the experiences are subtle. Just the regular stuff that’s part of everyday life. But those small and seemingly insignificant things can give you profound insight into your host country. And that in turn helps you better understand your native land…
I was at a Starbucks in Roma Norte, one of the nicer barrios in Mexico City. I despise Starbucks. But it was early Sunday morning and so all my favorite local coffee shops were closed. After I ordered, I stood at the bar waiting for my latte.
A man and his teenage son walked in. They were Mexican Orthodox Jews. There are only around 50,000 Jews living in Mexico. But most of them live here in Mexico City, so they’re not an uncommon sight. Especially in richer neighborhoods like Polanco where they tend to congregate.
These two looked like regular, light-skinned Mexicans. But they were obviously Hebrew. Both wearing wide-brimmed black hats, dark suits with white button-down shirts, and sporting long curly forelocks hanging down in front of their ears.
I observed them while I waited. They ordered, took a table inside, and set up their laptops. Once my drink was ready, I walked outside to the patio, sat down, and started writing. I quickly forgot about the Jews.
But then a few minutes later a motorcyclist pulled up. He was a delivery guy; a domicilio man. At first glance he was unremarkable. Just another middle-aged Mexican dude dressed in heavy black motorcycle clothing. One of thousands in CDMX who earn a living making deliveries for businesses, pharmacies, and restaurants.
But this man stood out. For one thing, I recognized him, because I’d seen him before. Six months ago, when I was eating at a taqueria in another part of the City, he’d been delivering tacos for them.
So why did I remember this particular Mexican?
It was his motorcycle helmet. He wasn’t wearing a normal one. This guy had on a World War II Nazi battle helmet. Matte-black metal with a flared-out bottom, the one you see in those old war movies. His was the Waffen-Schutzstaffel version, with a swastika on one side and SS lightening bolts on the other.
This Mexican Nazi parked, got down, and walked past me with package in hand. Right into the Starbucks with the Jews still inside. I waited with interest, wondering if something would go down. Maybe some sort of violent altercation? But after a minute the Nazi emerged empty-handed, got back on his bike, and drove away. The Jews stayed inside and I didn’t see them again.
But this incident got me thinking about culture in the U.S. and Mexico. Mexico is different from America in many ways. But one big difference I’ve noticed between them: an observation reinforced by this experience?
In some ways there’s more freedom in Mexico than in the United States.
People here in Mexico tend to mind their own business. They leave other people alone to say and do what they want, for the most part. Which is the way it should be. Not like in the United States. Oh, Americans love pretending to honor free speech. But they’re constantly censoring and shutting people down, every time their feelings get hurt.
In the States, God forbid you say something mean about a minority or religious group! Or display the wrong kind of symbol. Or question popular opinion or oppose filthy degenerate trends. Because if you do you’re almost 100% guaranteed to be blacklisted, fired, ostracized, and shamed. Maybe even have your kids or website stolen away!
And it’s not just that…
In most parts of the States, especially in the major cities, if a man openly wore a Nazi helmet like that he’d be physically attacked in the streets. Beaten and maybe even killed. Afterwards the media would cheer the assault. And the left would create memes glorifying the violence.
Because hahahaha fuck Nazis, right?
In Mexico City it’s different. Here in CDMX, this man can wear his Nazi helmet unmolested, for years. He’s not gonna get attacked. He won’t be shamed. And he isn’t gonna lose his job.
Of course we Americans are taught collective hatred for Nazis because of WWII. And that partly explains our extreme reactions to swastikas and similar symbols. Mexico never battled the Third Reich, so Mexicans don’t feel that same visceral, ancestral response to Nazi symbolism.
But so what? It makes no difference. That war ended over 70 years ago. It’s ancient history! In 2018 a man should be free to display any kind of symbol, or say damn near anything he wants to, without having his life ruined.
In Mexico he can do that.
But in America he can’t.
Now this might seem trivial.
Most of us will never display Nazi symbols.
So who gives a shit?
Even if you hate Nazis.
Because it’s NOT about defending Nazis!
It’s about defending free speech.
There is no hate speech. Only free speech.
As a human being, free speech is your absolute right. No person, company, government or group can legitimately restrict, regulate, or impose consequences on your speech. Whether it’s spoken, written, or displayed as symbols or art.
Because your free speech rights were not granted by governments of men. Your rights were granted to you by a Higher Power, at the exact moment of your birth. So any restriction on your speech is an unacceptable imposition on your God-given rights.
And yes, yes. I understand the exceptions – slander, fighting words, yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. But beyond that there is no limit.
This incident forced me to ask myself a slightly painful question…
Which country is more free?
The United States?
I was surprised by the answer.
Look I’m not saying Mexico is a bastion of total freedom. Gun rights are weak here, graft is rampant, crime rates are sky high in some areas. And Mexican journalists, bloggers, and celebrities do get murdered – usually after talking shit or digging too deep into things like government corruption or cartel activity.
But still. It’s ironic when you’re told your whole life you live in ‘The Land Of The Free.’ And then later you discover that, in some ways, a ‘Third World’ country has more freedom than your place of birth!
And so then you start thinking….
What other lies have they told you?
Read More: How To Start A New Life Abroad (Part I)