The Hundredth Meridian

American Parenthood

Overwhelmed by the shame of having a juvenile delinquent for a daughter, Héctor could almost forget that he himself was a convicted criminal and the subject of an investigation by the Immigration and Borders division of the Department of Homeland Security.

The entire business had been a father’s worst nightmare, as well as a major multicultural scandal.  The Southwestern media, like ravens on the city dump, had been all over the story of how the daughter of an illegal Hispanic immigrant politician had offered deliberate gratuitous insult to Islam and to Muslims the world over.  Al Jazeera picked up the incident for a broadcast, so that, for weeks after, Héctor lived in terror of hearing that a fatwa had been issued against Contracepción.  (In the event, his plan had been to flee with the family into Mexico, where he counted on the reputation enjoyed by the Federales to deter even the toughest Al Qaeda hit team.)  The Valencia County News-Bulletin and the Albuquerque Journal ran front-page stories featuring Contracepción’s photograph and drawing death threats from the Muslim community and proposals of marriage (among other things) from the Hispanic one.  The school canceled Héctor’s computer-repair contract, and the superintendent addressed a specially convened student assembly to reiterate that the Belen Consolidated School District...

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