Uninformed political observers delude themselves into thinking that these sentiments are relegated to the fringe. But the core concepts of reconquista (the "re-conquest" of the Southwest by Mexico) have spread wide and deep-from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Milwaukee to Arkansas and beyond. In Denver, a large banner read: "AMERICA IS A CONTINENT NOT A COUNTRY." In Albuquerque, Latino activists held up a provocative sign asking aloud: "Manifest Destiny?"
On the Sean Hannity radio show Monday, I debated (or rather listened to five minutes of screeching by) a young member of the radical group MeCha. A student at the University of San Francisco, she denied that her group still subscribed to 1960s identity politics, then promptly delivered a full-throated rant about Mexico's right to reclaim American territory: "We believe that we have the right to be in this land…Aztlan is California! Aztlan is this country! This country was ours…We didn't cross the borders. The borders crossed us…This country is based on exploitation!"
On NPR's "All Things Considered," Gloria Ramirez Vargas, a politician in Baja, Calif., rallied her constituents with a similar cry: " Many Mexicans are nourishing the ground in the U.S. , but those lands were once ours. Those same lands, which now with intelligence, with love and with a lot of work, we are re-conquering again for our Mexico."
On leading conservative talk show station KFI in Los Angeles, hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou interviewed Tony Valdez, who also invoked "manifest destiny" as a rationale for supporting the sabotage of our immigration laws. He pontificated about 1846, recycled the "We didn't cross the borders" nonsense, inveighed against the war in Iraq, and exclaimed: "You took this country. You killed people in order to take this country for yourselves."
Valdez is a FOX News 11 reporter at KTTV in L.A.