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The Far Right and Anti-Mexican Racism

Sensing the impending end of their white privilege, Right-Wing ideologues have been using racist imagery created by the John Birch Society and others. Patrick J. Buchanan wrote that MECA is "a Chicano version of the white-supremacist Aryan Nation... and is unabashedly racist and anti-American"
The Smearing of Bustamante - The Far Right and Anti-Mexican Racism
Jorge Marsical, CouterPunch, August 30, 2003

It would be tempting to dismiss the recent media flap around the candidacy of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and his membership in the student organization Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA, see  http://www.panam.edu/orgs/mecha/nat.html) as much to do about nothing. But for those of us who have been following over the last decade the political propaganda of anti-Mexican hate groups, the controversy indicates just how far the rhetoric and tactics of the extreme right have entered the media mainstream.

As Bustamante's poll numbers began to rise, his affiliation with MEChA over twenty-five years ago surfaced as a hot topic on FOX news. Bill O'Reilly used his "No Spin Zone" to do a spin on MEChA that was straight out of the far right's playbook. According to O'Reilly, MEChA was a racist and violent organization that hated the United States and advocated the ceding of the Southwest back to Mexico. O'Reilly's ideological great uncle, Rush Limbaugh, had introduced the topic in mid-August. Lesser neo-con talking heads, columnists, and websites ran with it and soon the same charges appeared in otherwise reputable newspapers and across cyberspace.

In fact, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and the rest were merely sampling the rantings of their slightly loonier right-wing cousins. Fueled by rapidly shifting demographics, especially in California but also in the Deep South and Northeast where there are now sizable Mexican communities, an upgraded form of white fear has been taking shape for several years. Drawing upon the repetoire of racist images created by the John Birch Society and other extremist groups during the Cold War, these new nativist ideologues sense the impending end of their white privilege.

Writing for the internet newspaper World Net Daily in 2001 (home to the media conservatives O'Reilly and Joe McCarthy apologist Ann Coulter) two months after September 11th, Joseph Farah described a radical Chicano group called "La Raza." According to Farah: "Activists who see themselves as 'America's Palestinians' are gearing up a movement to carve out of the southwestern United States--a region called Aztlán including all of Bush's home state of Texas--a sovereign Hispanic state called the República del Norte. The leaders of this movement are meeting continuously with extremists from the Islamic world." The fear of a brown planet so muddles the neo-con mind that Mexican Americans move easily from being radical separatists to covert al-Queda operatives.

The MEChA student organization has been a particular obsession of Glenn Spencer, founder and lead storm trooper for his "American Patrol" and "Voices of Citizens Together." Spencer has been at the forefront of leading vigilante groups whose stated objective is to "protect" the U.S. southern border, and he popularized the idea of MEChA as a "Ku Klux Klan-type" organization determined to take back the Southwest.

A Washington Times article reported on Spencer's words of wisdom delivered to a group of conventioneers in Virginia in 2002: "With hundreds of Mexicans illegally crossing the United States' southwest border daily, Mr. Spencer said, conflict between the U.S. Border Patrol and Mexican authorities could touch off strikes, protests, and riots by Hispanic militants in the United States-a combination border war and civil war that "could happen any day," he said." (Washington Times, 2/25/02).

The fantasy of MEChA as a key element of a Mexican American fifth column within the United States found its way into Republican presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan 2001 bestseller The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization. MEChA, warned Buchanan, is "a Chicano version of the white-supremacist Aryan Nation...and is unabashedly racist and anti-American."

When student activists created the MEChA organization in April of 1969 at a conference at the University of California, Santa Barbara, it was in the context of educational reform. Numerous Chicano student organizations had already appeared as part of an emerging political consciousness among Mexican youth in the United States. Issues of access to higher education, racism, sexism, economic injustice, Cesar Chavez and the farm workers's struggle, and the war in Southeast Asia contributed to the increase in activism.

Educational reformers decided that MEChA could serve to consolidate the diverse student groups under one banner. Today, former mechistas include elected officials, teachers, attorneys, doctors, publishers of business magazines, and heads of corporations. Far from being exclusionary and racist, MEChA chapters have been at the forefront of establishing coalitions with other ethnic groups (including white folks) on college and high school campuses across the country.

One month before the Santa Barbara meeting, at the First Denver Youth Conference in Denver, Chicanos and Chicanas heard for the first time the "Plan espiritual de Aztlán." A plan of action that included demands for bilingual education and appeals to "love and brotherhood," the "Plan" was preceded by a lyrical prologue written by the poet Alurista. As he recounts in the PBS documentary series Chicano!, Alurista had written the prologue as a poem designed to instill ethnic pride and hope for the future. Whatever political claims might have existed in the prologue, they were imprecise at best.

It is not surprising, however, that the prologue to the "Plan" is what sends right-wingers into a frenzy. What the prologue asserts is the basic historical fact that indigenous and Mexican peoples inhabited the Southwest before the arrival of the United States. There is no denying this important detail, and there is nothing that those who would "seal the border" or foolishly equate MEChA with the Klan can do to change it.

And so the prologue to the "Plan," a poem written almost thirty five years ago in a period of increased social activism and high-flying rhetoric, is presented as exhibit number one in the nativists's paranoid attack. One need look no further than the 2001 campaign for mayor of Los Angeles to find an early example of the use by Republican operatives of fringe group slander against MEChA. In that race, candidate Antonio Villaraigosa, who had been a member of MEChA as a student, was similarly tarred and feathered.

Now the far right has trotted out the same ridiculous charges in an attempt to undermine Bustamante and influence a democratic election with distortion and innuendo. Whether or not one is a Bustamante supporter, what should concern every citizen is that the hate literature of the extreme nativist right is now required reading in the FOX newsroom.

Jorge Mariscal is a professor at the University of California, San Diego, a Vietnam veteran, and a former mechista.

homepage: homepage: http://www.counterpunch.org/mariscal08302003.html


Rascists 30.Aug.2003 21:15

I've seen it

If you want to see how much the right is trying to inflame the anti-immigrant sentiments in this country check out www.freerepublic.com or www.libertypost.org and you will notice alot of the threads on those forums are related to the issue. They want a pure caucasion Amerika......they will try to tell you otherwise, but that is pure bullshit. The right wants Amerika cleansed.

They never left California 31.Aug.2003 08:52

Rebecca

What is really bizzare about the right-winged is that they make up history to suit thier own plans for the future. In California there is a huge racist movement developing against Hispanic people. The right wing fail to mention that many Hispanics in California are descendents of people who were here before white anglo's. They are continuous residents of this land called California. the border of Mexico came all the way to border of Oregon up until anglo's took the land from the Native indigenous people. Before the Anglo's Spain was here. Many so called "mexicans" are a blend of Native American and Spanish. Many were chased off their land across the Mexican border for a short time and then came back to do the lowest paid, dirtiest jobs America had to offer AND they often had to live on the worst land and scratch out a living.

AND...their families never left what is now known as California. The Right-wings make it sound like anyone who is Hispanic never lived on this land and just decided to stream across the border because America is so wonderful.

Fascist America Plays the real Race Card 31.Aug.2003 14:34

Free Aztlan

The real reason that the Right Wingers and other "patriot" types are attacking MEchA is because of the issue of American occupation and oppression of Aztlan (or California and the so-called American Southwest). These Right Wingers are attempting to smear and discredit any revolutionary Latino group who challenges or even raises the issue of America's theft and colonization of Mexican and Indiginous lands.

For these American Nationalists even to admit or acknowledge that the entire American nation itself is based up stolen and occupied lands belonging to Mexico and Indiginous nations is "racist" according to their twisted logic. In fact, it is the other way around. America's colonization and occupation of the First Nations is the true racism, and is based upon the racist ideology of American Nationalism.

This is called playing the real Race Card, and it is played everyday by these fascist American Patriots.

I have to laugh .. . . . . 31.Aug.2003 17:11

Dr. Evil . . .

Mexicans are streaming into this country because they've fucked up their country so bad they can't get jobs there. . . . ..They have to come here for jobs, medical care (paid for by us), and other services,
which they can't get at home.
I can't remember ever seeing a bunch of Americans trying to sneak into Mexico . . . . .Has anyone?

Mexico not at fault 31.Aug.2003 17:30

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In response to the previous comment:
It is ignorant to just assume that Mexicans have, as you suggested "fucked up" their own country. Actually, it was "fucked up" by US interests in petroleum and other industries, as well as by the unfortunate actions of corrupt politicians who were elected Bush-style such as Salinas de Gortari who pushed for NAFTA, which has singlehandedly done more to fuck up Mexico than just about anything else. If people immigrate here it is because US interests and foreign policy set by NAFTA are driving them to poverty and desperation.
And if MEChA members dedicate their time and energy to working for the empowerment of the long-downtrodden communities of Mexican immigrants and Chicanos, then they certainly are doing more than most people to uphold their heritage and their people.

one more thing 31.Aug.2003 17:40

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Also, it's not exactly a bed of roses for undocumented Mexican immigrants here. It's equally ignorant to assume that people who work minimum wage jobs and live at or below the poverty line are cashing in on freebies. Immigrant workers take on the most dangerous and low-paying jobs that most Americans wouldn't think of performing. These jobs come with no benefits and high rates of injury. Meanwhile, undocumented workers DO pay taxes and don't get any money back since they can't file tax returns. So before you run around claiming that undocumented immigrants are living the good life, educate yourself and look around you at who makes up the backbone of major US industries while barely making enough money to pay rent and eat each month.

Illegal, not "undocumented" 31.Aug.2003 17:46

Dr. Evil . . .

Get one thing straight: Mexicans were coming here illegally long, long before NAFTA. I have no problem with legal immigration,
but I'm tired of paying taxes to support Illegals who sneak into this country ILLEGALLY. Get it?

Dr. Evil ......right wing hate monger 31.Aug.2003 19:24

He's one of them

See Dr. Evil is an example of those folks who are "real concerned" with the issue of immigration. He will NEVER admit the US has contributed to the influx of Mexicans into this country. He will claim to the end that he welcomes immigrants who are legal. In reality most of these types who feel they need to list the reasons immigrants are "ruining" this country over and over again are rascists who will never accept that part of this country is stolen property from Mexico. Let alone they will never admit this entire country was stolen from the native inhabitants who lived here before europeans slaughtered them and took possesion.

Well... 31.Aug.2003 23:38

anonymous

My ancestors came over legally. I do have a problem with illegal immigration. I am not white. This country did steal land from natives, but that doesn't mean we should say that this is the reason that none of our laws should be enforced.

Rich people of every race should pay taxes without loopholes and write offs. People of Mexican heritage should pay the same taxes that others pay. And illegals should either be sent back to their country, or made legal. Making them legal means they pay the same taxes as we. In California, certainly illegal immigrants pay taxes through the sales tax. In Oregon they do not, for we have no sales tax.

Not all illegals just get paid minimum wage, by the way. Some of them have damned good jobs, that Americans don't even have a chance to apply for, because the employers are only interested in hiring illegals.

No, this issue is not just about pointing fingers at Mexicans, or illegals. Yes, Americans play a big role in this ridiculous situation. If you have laws, they should be followed. Accounting should be accurate. This is all a great mess. Complaining about it, disagreeing with it does not make you a racist.

mexican men are racist and sexist 01.Sep.2003 08:24

Sra Dominguez-Garcia

I am tired of seeing all our Mexican brothers heading up norte to get a fat Anglo girl, aren`t there enough big women in Mexico to please all our men?

Response 01.Sep.2003 11:11

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Although it seems some people don't believe this, unless you're working under the table you pay taxes whether or not you are working with a visa/permit/residence or not. In order to get hired for a job, you need to show an ID such as a social security card, green card, or visa-- they may not be real, but it means that your employer WILL take taxes out of your salary regardless of your immigration status. And unless you are in the position of having a tax ID number, you can't claim any of the money you paid in taxes, so make no mistake, pretty much everyone working in the US is paying taxes.
And while some undocumented immigrants may be lucky enough to earn above minimum wage, that's not exactly the norm. Rather, the millions of people who live and work in this country ALREADY are usually just barely scraping by and some are living in places where your average american wouldn't leave his dog-- just drive about half an hour south of Portland if you don't believe me-- so think about what you're saying before you suggest that undocumented immigrants have it so great here.

You are the Illegal Immigrants 01.Sep.2003 16:31

Free Aztlan

Its hilarious that American nativists are whining about "illegal immigrants" coming from Latin America into the USA. All of the land from Texas to California was stolen, colonized, and now currently occupied by America. You act as if you have a right to occupy this land to begin with and that it belongs to America. IT doesn't, and it never will.

The true "illegal immigrants" are the American and Anglo colonizers who currently rule over what are rightfully Indiginous and Mexican lands.

There is an old saying among Indiginous and Mexican peoples in American occupied Aztlan that describes this situation to a T:

"We Didn't Cross the Border. The Border Crossed Us!"

****************************************************************

FREE AZTLAN

 http://www.barriowarriors.net/home.html


Orale! 03.Sep.2003 15:08

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Right on, Free Aztlan!

Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride 03.Sep.2003 15:09

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www.immigrantworkersfreedomride.org -- to learn more about efforts to bring justice and amnesty to immigrant workers in the US.

.. 20.Oct.2003 20:59

boonplod

time will heal all wounds, or at least force subsequent generations to forget about them....

the english are still technically ruled and occupied by the normans (a french tribe) but its been nearly a millenia so english culture has aquired much of norman culture, and now english culture is supposedly "english culture" again. Just as the native cultures of america were conquered by the anglos (english) and other "whites"....

point is... you''ll get used to it (my anglo ancestors did, theres no reason for me to hate the now defunct norman empire), and some day "your people" will be the oppressor, or at least part of the oppressor...

technology is the only thing that gives people the ability to enforce their beliefs on others... blame technology... humans cant be fixed or changed. time will wipe your ideological reform away. but to destroy the machinery that perpetuates the hate, that could actually save your children... and save (their) children from having to just reinstate the reform you attempted (but people forgot, as they always have and will)

 http://www.panix.com/%7Eclays/Una/

Unión 28.Dec.2004 17:02

Vengador

¡Viva la raza de bronce! Ya estoy cansado de escuchar todos los días en el noticiero que los rancheros de Texas matan a nuestra gente "confundiendolos" con jabalies. ¿Qué es esto? A mi no me engañan es Racismo; odian a nuestra gente, nosotros somos el soporte ecónomico de EE.UU., nosotros luchamos con ellos en todas las malditas guerras que hacen ¿y nos pagan con Odio? No, no es justo, ya me cansé me fastidia ver el racismo. Pero ya se les acabo su tiempo los "beaners" ya somos la primera minoria y la población más jovén, mientras los gabachos se estan quedando viejos muy pronto se hablará únicamente español en California y los gobernantes tendrán apellidos Españoles. Ya lo decia Benito Juarez "Recuperaremos nuestro territorio..." Unión contra el racismo hacia nuestra sangre !Unión! Anti-racismo