John Leo

The Times report took the opportunity to clear Bustamante without looking much into the charges. The lead of the article was this: "A Chicano student organization that Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante belonged to at Fresno State University in the mid-1970s has its roots in a nationalistic protest movement but is better known on college campuses for working to recruit and retain Latino students." Citing the slogan "For the race everything. For those outside the race, nothing," the Los Angeles Times said this sentence is "not the group's motto, as reported by some organizations, but was used by Chicano activists before MEChA was founded." Well, yes, it isn't THE motto, but it is a group slogan found on many MEChA sites today, not just before MEChA's founding in 1969. Couldn't those 10 or 15 Saturday readers be let in on this?

In the absence of informative print and network journalism, the heavy lifting has been done by bloggers on the Internet. Glenn Reynolds (www.instapundit.com), Mickey Kaus (http://kausfiles.com), and two sites new to me (www.tacitus.org and www.pejmanesque.com) have been reporting on MEChA and analyzing what can be currently found on MEChA sites. (For a defense of Bustamante, go to Ted Barlow's site at http://tedbarlow.blogspot.com.)

Tacitus argues that Bustamante's MEChA membership is a socially tainting act that can't be whisked away as a harmless youthful affiliation. He writes: "Former Klansmen and former Nazis don't get a pass unless they spend a great deal of time and energy apologizing for and explaining themselves in a convincing manner."

I agree. Defenders of MEChA portray it as a benign social group now distant from its radical roots. But that portrait is hard to square with the information put out on MEChA sites today. Those sites tell Chicanos not to work outside "the bronze race" and to condemn "multinational" alliances. And there are hints of violence. El Plan de Aztlan calls for "self-defense against the occupying forces of the oppressors," and mentions "the utilization of our bodies for war."

If this is leftover '60s bluster, why don't MEChA and Bustamante simply disavow it? The group may be harmless on some campuses, but it clearly positions itself as a virulent identity group with no interest in pluralism or tolerance. Why are the press and the Democrats giving a candidate with this kind of background a pass?


John Leo

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

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