Drive south along Interstate I95 and leave North Carolina. Within a quarter of a mile South of the Border appears on your left. It's a sprawling tourist trap filled with clip-joint shops, restaurants, a gas station, and assorted tourist attractions - including a large public toilet. It presents you with a battle between ticky and tacky, with tacky ahead by a nose.
The motif is sort of stereotypical Mexican... as imagined by people who don't seem to like Mexico all that much. Now I'm not a believer in the concept of La Raza. Most Latin Americans that I've met have as much European blood as me. However they are as ethnically different from my Irish ancestors as Serbo-Croatians. There is a Latin culture that's taken on unique national characteristics as you travel from nation to nation. What ties them together is Spanish.
However, ethnic cultures always seem to clash - and those clashes produce some hot sparks, even fires - right? Last week, a television news lady was fired from her network job on NBC for having a discussion which seemed to license black-face halloween costumes. Which brings me to South of the Border in South Carolina.
Here's that Pedro public toilet. So? Is "Pedro" not as ethnically insensitive as black-face costumes? The place has been around for decades - perhaps half a century. Its designers probably consider the motif to be fun. Moreover it's thousands of miles away from the Mexican border. But... have definitions of humor changed drastically enough over the last couple of decades to pop the place's humor balloon? Is South of the Border a racist (or at least an ethnic) dog-whistle?