In the aftermath of 9/11, noted Latino essayist Richard Rodriguez became fascinated by how people’s spiritual relationships turn deadly. Last year he published "Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography," a book that explores his own complex relationship with religion. And last week, on the 13th anniversary of 9/11, he spoke with Sandy Close, New America Media’s executive editor, about hope, politics and immigration in America.
If there’s a new American Dream, how does it differ from the traditional one?
The immigrant Dream, the foreign Dream, is as gaudy, as magnificent and as romantic and impractical as it always was: "I will go to America and become a millionaire, and marry a blonde woman, and have children who are six feet tall." That Dream is still alive.
Those who were born in America, including children and grandchildren of immigrants, have diminished our Dream. Some of us have become stuck. We work two jobs, we rent an apartment, we don’t have a car, we see no movement in our lives. What’s the American Dream to us?
Some Americans downgrade our vision of the Dream out of good motives. We don’t want a big car that guzzles gas, we want a small car, an electric car. We don’t want a huge American Dream because we realize how much it costs [n]ature. We’re downgrading our version of the American Dream and we resent those who come to America with their gaudy ambition.