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August 20, 2003

Bustamante and the Anti-MEChA Canard

As the rightwing guns for Cruz Bustamante, it was inevitable that they would use a racist attack on his membership in the organization, MEChA. Oh yeah, and in true Orwellian doublethink, they would cloak their racist attack by labelling MEChA "racist" or even "fascist."

Let's be clear what MEChA is-- it's been the major student organization of latinos in California for decades. It is so mainstream that almost every major progressive latino in the state was a member at some point. When I was in California, MEChA involved the main leadership of latino activists fighting for education funding and a range of other issues.

So if you call MEChA racist and fascist, you are basically saying that most latino politicians in California are the equivalent of Nazis.

Which is what the Right wants to do. Take this section of the diatribe I linked to above, with its unsourced allegations. At least here is quoting from an actual official MEChA document, its early "Port Huron" style manifesto. Says TownHall's Malkin:

MEChA's liberation agenda, outlined in El Plan de Aztlan, states defiantly:

"We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent. Brotherhood unites us, and love for our brothers makes us a people whose time has come and who struggles against the foreigner 'gabacho' who exploits our riches and destroys our culture. With our heart in our hands and our hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture."

Substitute "Aryan" for "mestizo" and "white" for "bronze." Not much difference between the nutty philosophy of Bustamante's MEChA and Papa Schwarzenegger's evil Nazi Party.

Yeah, let's do that substitution. Now what does "mestizo" mean? To take a basic definition:
a person of mixed racial ancestry (especially mixed European and Native American ancestry)
So what this statement says is that celebration of race mixing is the same as racial purity. Yes, Orwell rides high in the saddle when the rightwing guns for MEChA.

Well, what about the "bronze nation" nationalism? What a shock-- an exploited group talking about its ethnic solidarity. The Irish never engaged in such rhetoric or engaged in political cronyism based on ethnic ties -- or if they did, they were all Nazis? The Jews never speak of international solidarity with other Jews in say a small country in the Middle East?

The only difference between MEChA-style ethnic nationalism and most historic white ethnic groups, is that the latinos have a clearer grievance by historical standards. It was racist white nationalism that fueled "Manifest Destiny" to take over the whole southwest in a series of wars. Sorry-- the only thing that looks like Nazism is the "white mans burden" conceit of America backed by military invasion that allowed it to attack Mexico and annex its land to the United States.

What is more Orwellian than labelling the victims of racist military imperialism as Nazis? Those attacking MEChA should be ashamed of themselves, but acknowledging crimes by the United States in its history is not possible for such people.

Let's be straight. The United States controls California because of two things-- we committed genocide against Native Americans and we conducted a racist military expansion into what had been Mexican-controlled territory.

So if many latinos resent the "capricious frontiers on the bronze continent", they have good reason to do so. And-- at the risk of being oh too politically correct-- white folks should be embarassed at the historical existence of those "capricious frontiers", not condemn latinos as "Nazis" for pointing out the historical injustice.

But in the Orwellian world of the Right, those who are victims of white imperialism and dare to complain of it are labelled "facists" and "Nazis."

Hmm...how appropriate to have books to explore this phenomenon:

Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

BTW, for those who think my "manifest destiny=Nazism" analogy is too extreme, it's notable that I'm in good company. See this week's Economist which describes the US acquisition of the Southwest this way:

In pursuit of its “manifest destiny”, which would have been called Lebensraum (room to grow in) in 1930s Germany, 19th-century American expansionists laid claim to most of their continent.
As conservative imperialists conquer other countries today, it might be worthwhile for everyone to remember the racism involved in our earlier conquests in the southwest.

Update: On cue, Fox News jumped on these lies-- my response.

Also read this great piece from CounterPunch about the racist heritage of these anti-MEChA attacks.

Posted by Nathan at August 20, 2003 07:52 AM