What is it About MEChA?
Republicans funneling money to denounce UCLA student group
Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez
The nationwide attacks against MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de
Published on LatinoLA: March 19, 2004
Aztlan) by the extreme right wing have escalated to extremely disturbing
levels. For example, tens of thousands of dollars are now being funneled by
hate-radio aficionados to target the UCLA chapter.
MEChA -- with hundreds of chapters nationwide -- was born on college campuses
during tumultuous times to fight against dehumanization, racial supremacy and
segregation. Thus, it's no stranger to hostility. To understand these
continual attacks, one must study the language employed by its attackers and
also revisit the culture of lying.
Truthfully, the disingenuous attacks are little different from those carried
out by anti-immigrant politicians who also oppose affirmative action and
bilingual education -- all the while claiming to be adhering to Martin Luther
King Jr.'s principles. They do this delusionally, pretending that we already
live in a color-blind society, and accuse those who dare fight against racial
inequalities of being "racists."
That's why we've long advocated a national convention on the English language -
- to ensure that we're all using the same dictionary.
For example, nowadays, we have a government that wages war and calls it peace
and claims it's the route to democracy, even while facilitating coups against
democratically elected leaders in Venezuela and Haiti. Aside from using
bribery and blackmail, it also forces its "coalition partners" to go against
their own citizens. Meanwhile, it conducts massive airport raids (Operation
Tarmac) looking for terrorists, but comes up only with Mexicans. Additionally,
many top scientists are today accusing the Bush administration of willfully
distorting science to meet its political, environmental, health and military
This points either to "a crooked and lying bunch" or evidence that we're all
not using the same dictionary. (For a fuller accounting of such willfull
misrepresentations (227 lies) by the administration, see the The Iraq on the
Record report: http://www.house.gov/reform/min/features/iraq_on_the_record/
That's the context of the attacks against MEChA. Its leading detractor,
VCT/American Patrol (Voices Concerned Together), is listed as a hate group by
the prestigious Southern Poverty Law Center
(www.tolerance.org/maps/hate/group.jsp?map_data_type_id=6). Groups such as
these claim to be anti-illegal immigration. Yet they target MEChA, which isn't
even an immigrant group, insisting that it's a racist organization. (That's
akin to the KKK categorizing MLK as a bigot.) That anyone would pay them any
mind is mind-boggling. No group gets onto SPLC's list by accident. Despite
this, VCT's scurrilous charges have been parroted by politicians and an
unquestioning media that has only been too eager to portray Mexicans, Central
and South Americans as terrorists.
When the right wing went after former California speaker of the house Antonio
Villaraigosa and gubernatorial candidate Cruz Bustamante -- for not
"renouncing their ties" to MEChA -- those were truly Orwellian moments.
Currently, this right-wing movement has coalesced around targeting UCLA's
MEChA chapter, though the attacks against MEChA are national. On campus, the
Bruin Republicans, with the assistance of at least $28,000 raised from "hate
radio," are demanding that MEChA denounce its founding documents. BR members, like their ideological brethren, apparently can't read. They insist that MEChA denounce "El Plan de Aztlan" (which is not its founding document). But even if it were, there's nothing to denounce.
As has been aptly noted, that would be like demanding that Bruin Republicans
denounce the U.S. Constitution for permitting land theft, slavery and
segregation. The difference is that the worst MEChA (in its 35-year history)
can be accused of is occasionally using inflammatory rhetoric ... or of being
Is it even legal to funnel money to a campus group to attack a duly recognized
student group, which, incidentally, does not single out Republicans?
To be sure, MEChA's ideological leanings have ranged between the teachings of
Gandhi and Malcolm X -- from supporting the human rights work of Cesar and
Helen Chavez and Dolores Huerta to the Zapatistas.
Internally, individual MEChA chapters have struggled with sexism, homophobia
and nationalism, etc. And no doubt, historically, out of the tens of thousands
of members, a few have gone on to become extremist kooks. The vast majority,
however, are upstanding citizens and certainly, MEChA has never had the desire
or power to oppress or terrorize society. Quite the contrary.
So what is it about MEChA that inspires attacks from the extreme right wing?
Perhaps in refusing to bow down to the patron, they upset the image of
Mexicans sleeping under cactuses. Truthfully, the media focus should not be on
MEChA, but on a culture that permits anyone to lie and pay no price, except to
occasionally wind up on a hate site. Or, as we recently saw in Spain, to get
booted out of office. Viva los Zapateristas!
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