Searching for Victims

NCLR leader's rhetoric of the oppressed is wearing thin

By Fernando Oaxaca
Published on LatinoLA: July 26, 2003

Searching for Victims

For most Americans, there are far more serious concerns on their minds these days than worrying about the plight of "minorities." And for most, the word "minority" usually brings "black" to the forefront. In major U.S. urban centers, the word "Latino" or "Hispanic" gets added to the category or dominates as a descriptor. And once a year the major minority advocacy organizations have a convention, deplore injustice at macro levels, get sympathetic press, party a lot, debate loudly, select next year?s venue and, invariably, trash incumbent Republican Presidents.

Honoring this tradition, the NAACP a week or so ago engaged in one of the most vicious attacks in memory on an Administration, hall-marked by Julian Bond?s attacks on President Bush and Republicans. He even introduced Nazi symbols into the discourse. This past week, perhaps taking his cue from Mr. Bond, Raul Yzaguirre, President of the National Council de La Raza (NCLR) blasted President Bush at the Latino advocacy group?s convention in Austin, Texas.

The NCLR?s Yzaguirre was a tad more civilized in content and delivery of remarks than Julian Bond or Kweisi Mfume, NAACP CEO. But he seems to have had the same kind of motivation. Using the same scripted sort of outrageous remarks to fire up the NCLR convention troops, Yzaguirre teed off with, "By almost every measure, Latinos still endure pervasive discrimination and lack of opportunity." Presumably he meant that after eight long years of Clinton-Gore and two and a half years of George W. Bush, and indeed, since Lyndon Johnson, nothing has improved for U.S. Latinos!

As ridiculous as that sounds, this is standard fare for Yzaguirre speeches and NCLR conventions, especially when there is a Republican president. Using words taken almost verbatim from the Al Gore 2000 Hispanic campaign literature, Mr. Yzaguirre regaled us with, "The problem is that too often their plan to win our votes comes down to taking as many pictures with us as possible." That?s right, George W. Bush invented the photo-op!

Mr. Yzaguirre was born in 1940, the same year as Julian Bond. Out of high school in 1958, he then went into the Armed Services, serving four years; something Mr. Bond apparently managed to avoid. And soon after college in 1968, he got into the non-profit, minority advocacy business. Now, thirty some years later, enshrined as NCLR head, he has developed to a fine art the portrayal of Hispanics as just slightly below the desert tortoise in terms of current achievement or potential achievement---unless fed or reinforced by massive amounts of government dollars and sustenance.

Following up on Yzaguirre?s accusation of Republicans? unique and crass propensity to being photographed with Hispanics, he followed up in a rambling oration with an array of astounding allegations against the Bush folks, all following the "picture/photograph" allegory:

"It is a picture of two years of neglect, disinterest, and disrespect.

"The Bush Administration doesn't seem to care if Latinos are in the picture of American prosperity.

"The Bush Administration doesn't seem to care if Latinos are in the picture of American learning.

"The Bush Administration doesn't seem to care if Latinos are in the picture of American health.

"The Bush Administration doesn't seem to care if Latinos are in the picture of American justice."

No fair and apolitical assessment would give any credibility to Mr. Yzaguirre?s assertions. Yet it gives Latinos a bad rap if America sees them as malcontents, feeling they are oppressed, put-upon victims of nasty Republicans (as Yzaguirre would prefer.) His relevance and that of the leadership of groups like the NAACP, MALDEF, PRLDF and other "victocracies" begins to evaporate if there is any admission of progress, achievement or well-being in minority communities.

But let?s quickly comment on the Yzaguirre allegations against President Bush & Co. noted above. On "neglect" and "disrespect", where is Yzaguirre?s logic that the Administration "neglects" Latinos while he lambastes them for pursuing and seeking out Hispanics for joint "pictures" and the White House is blasted for planning Latino campaigns? And why should anyone, including Latinos, give any credibility to his allegations of "disrespect" from a President who has appointed more Latinos to Cabinet jobs, judicial posts and dozens of sub-cabinet, policy-making positions?than any other President in history--of either party?

Further, could he be unaware of or did he conveniently conceal from his audience that his group, NCLR, recently praised the Bush appointment of R.A. Acosta as the first Latino Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in U.S. history? Isn?t this "oversight" particularly peculiar since NCLR calls itself a Latino "civil rights" organization?

Mr. Yzaguirre says that Bush & Co. "doesn't seem to care if Latinos are in the picture of American prosperity." His attack is on the Bush Tax Reduction initiative. Could he not know that of the 6 million Latino families with children under 18 in 2002, 1,725,000 of them have incomes between $30K to $50K and 1,470,000 additional families have incomes between $50K and $100K?and all will get the $400 per child tax rebate?

And why does Mr. Yzaguirre ignore the hundreds of thousands of small Latino businesses that will benefit from the income tax reduction and investment tax credit increase in the Bush plan? We are not farmworkers anymore Raul; we have businesses called sole proprietorships and we fill out 1040?s just like you. Are you donating your tax reduction to charity?

Is Mr. Yzaguirre unaware that every single Democrat Latino Congressperson in the House voted against this tax reduction bill and thus against 60% of all Latino families with children and hundreds of thousands of small businesses? The Latino community, oblivious to their NCLR-touted victimhood, also had a total of 383,000 families with children and income over $100,000 in 2002. They are "rich"; they did not get the rebate checks now being mailed. Does that make you feel better, Mr. Yzaguirre? As to the families earning below $26,000 who pay no taxes, Mr. Bush has asked the Congress to authorize their checks. To date, the Democrats on the Hill are still arguing about how to do it while killing the heart of the total Bush concept. Go see the folks on the Hill, Mr. Yzaguirre!

The attack on the Bush "No Child Left Behind" bill and alleging the President?s inattention to education for Latinos are outrageously groundless. Mr. Yzaguirre should figure out how to influence the 92% of school budgets that are collected (and spent) locally. He needs to take on national and local teacher unions. There, at local level, is where under-performing for minority kids takes place. Only 8 cents of the education dollar is under the President?s control. You're on the wrong back, Raul.

Mr. Yzaguirre?s strikes at Mr. Bush on health care and "justice" stem in major part from a conflict of interest on the part of NCLR and a host of other immigration advocacy groups who want it both ways. Mr. Yzaguirre and other mostly liberal/civil rights groups encourage more immigration from the south, illegal or not. They encourage it by lobbying for amnesty for illegal residents, by pushing for making it easier for these people to get I.D. cards, even if from foreign governments and promoting facility for their acquiring driver licenses. Increasing access to health care and children?s insurance and education from K-12-College are also promulgated. Noble goals if they were affordable.

But guess what? More illegals means less money in every area Mr. Yzaguirre complains about. There?s the conflict of interest. You can?t increase clientele and keep costs flat without destroying quality and quantity!

Another sad reality is that the children are often American citizens, with all that the status guarantees. The adults are subject to deportation?.but it seldom happens, almost for obvious reasons. So localities are stretched in budgets, trying to treat illegals humanely. So when the Federal Government (and its taxpayers) does not subsidize the needed billions, the President is the villain and a target for the Yzaguirres of the world,

Yet, "they", the NCLR?s and MALDEF?s have, in a way, succeeded in defending and thus encouraging illegal immigration?at a great price. Using California as a perfect example, uninsured children among illegal families is almost the rule. The unfettered movement north of poor, poorly educated rural people coming to the U.S. continues, and the adults have U.S. citizen babies. And therefore states like California are full of crowded classrooms, kids who learn badly due to impatient teachers who don?t speak the kid?s language. The underground economy, exploited labor, cash payment without payroll deductions; that is what these unwanted workers have brought to our states.

And while we are in a war on terrorism, Mr. Yzaguirre says Mr. Bush is picking on his illegal residents because the Department of Justice wants to know, precisely, who they are, what their background is, their criminal record, if any, and where they live, with certainty. Does it ever occur to Mr. Yzaguirre that the government knows exactly where I, a native-born U.S. citizen, war veteran, etc. live, work, play, and it knows precisely that I have never been in jail? Why does Yzaguirre preach that it is "unjust" for the government to want the same data required of American citizens?.from the 10,000,000 people who never checked in when they crossed the border as foreign nationals?

Americans are a generous people and they are a fair and patient people. But times are tough and the international scene is tense. If they want to rebuild their credibility and protect the image of their constituencies with the rest of the country, it is time for the NAACP and the NCLR and their ilk to stop insulting our intelligence. They need to quit fabricating false pictures and distorting the opinions of minorities about America and its leaders? justify their organizational or personal existence or survival.

It is the 21st century and the repetitive whining of, "we are oppressed, the system is unfair, give us government money or we die" rhetoric is pass?; it just doesn?t cut it anymore. It isn?t American; it certainly is not representative of American Latino sentiments.

Amazingly, it was Raul Yzaguirre himself who forgot his usual public/media position and inadvertently told his convention audience the truth, "Hispanics are patriotic, hard working, family-oriented, business-minded and God fearing." I know you didn?t mean it Raul, but thank you for recanting publicly on our victim-hood!

About Fernando Oaxaca:
Oaxaca can be reached at

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