John Leo
The mainstream press has been doing a miserable job covering Cruz Bustamante's ties to the creepy Chicano secessionist group MEChA. This may not be the biggest story of the California recall election, but voters surely have a right to expect some actual information about the leading Democratic candidate's views of a group that is certainly racialist, if not racist.

A MEChA slogan translates as "For the race everything. For those outside the race, nothing." El Plan de Aztlan, the group's founding document, carried now on many MEChA Internet sites, talks about the "call of our blood" and the need to reclaim the Southwest (Aztlan) from "the occupying forces of the oppressor." As if the Nazi-like call to the power of blood isn't scary enough, Miguel Perez of Cal State-Northridge's MEChA raised the issue of ethnic cleansing. Once Aztlan has been taken over, he said, non-Chicanos "would have to be expelled" and opposition groups quashed "because you have to keep the power."

Bustamante is no wild-eyed radical. But he has had as much trouble renouncing his connection to MEChA as Trent Lott did in retracting his comment on the Dixiecrats. Under heavy prodding at Fox News, he said he would be governor of all the people, but he has offered no direct disavowal of the group.

Now, it's safe to say that if a leading Republican candidate for governor had any ties at all to a MEChA-like group of white supremacists, past or present, 20 or so reporters would charge out of every California newsroom, eager to commit journalism.

Nothing like that has happened. My computer searches haven't yet turned up a serious press examination of the issue. What you get instead is an information-free paragraph or two stuck on the end of a report on farm policy or some other campaign issue. NPR completely muffled the issue. The Los Angeles Times, ever willing to protect readers from the news, tiptoed around the story for two weeks, then ran an article deep inside the paper on a Saturday, when almost nobody reads the paper.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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