So Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton jump into the act regarding the comment Mexico’s President Fox said last Friday, “There’s no doubt that the Mexican men and women – full of dignity, willpower and a capacity for work – are doing the work that not even blacks want to do in the United States.” So, according to Associated Press, President Fox last night says to Jackson and Sharpton on the phone that he “regrets” he made the comment, after a full day of refusing to retract what he said. Here’s the official statement:
"The president regretted any hurt feelings his statements may have caused," the Foreign Relations Department said in a press statement. "He expressed the great respect he and his administration has for the African-American community in the United States."
OK, there’s all kinds of nuances going on here. First, notice that Fox didn’t apologize for what he said. It’s a regret that he got people agitated about what he said. Clearly, he still stands behind his statement. He realizes that most people will read it as an apology because they don’t really pay attention (including the media -- a regret does not automatically translate into an apology: AP's headline is "Mexico's Fox Apologizes for Black Comment." NO, he didn't apologize). But his constituency will know what he is saying, and that's all that matters to him. I would say what he regrets are the phone calls and pressure he was receiving from Jackson and Sharpton. I’m sure he realized it wasn’t going to go away until he said “something.”
Now some may call Jackson and Sharpton publicity hounds, and they may be right, but at the same time someone had to take Fox to task. The fact that Jackson and Sharpton accepted this lame response probably proves they were out only for the publicity (I’m surprised Maxine Water didn’t jump into this).
Some think Fox insulted the United States. Some believe that Bush should have called on Fox to apologize. I disagree on both counts. Fox insulted an entire race, and it had nothing to do with the United States. But what he said throws more fuel on the long burning fire between Latinos and African-Americans in the States.