by Ted on September 2, 2003

About a month ago, there was a press release from Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club. They had filed a FOI act claim against Dick Cheney’s secretive energy task force. Among the documents that they had obtained were maps of Iraq’s oilfields and a document entitled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” Some people took this as proof that the war on Iraq had been planned before September 11, 2001, in order to transfer control of Iraqi oilfields to American companies. After a few small mentions in the mainstream media, the story died, except on left-wing blogs.

I don’t know why the story didn’t hit the national news. Maybe it was because Dick Cheney’s office stonewalled, and the press couldn’t get enough information to make it a worthwhile story. Maybe the media is so cowed by right-wing carping that they won’t pursue stories about right-wing malfeasance without either airtight evidence or a lot of momentum from the press pack.

But I’d like to believe that the story died because honest reporters looked into the allegations and saw that it was a bullshit story. There is nothing suspicious about an energy task force gathering information about major oil wells, no matter where they are. Oil is a commodity, Iraqi oil was on the market under the oil-for-food program, and it would have been very strange if Cheney’s group had neglected this. Furthermore, when you read the “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts” document, it seems to be all about non-US companies who began working with the Iraqi oil company under the oil-for-food progam. There are no American companies on the list.

I bring this up because the same news outlets whose commitment to truth and honesty brought you such bullshit stories as “Paul Wellstone’s memorial was nothing but a political rally,” “Bill Clinton’s staff vandalized the White House on the way out,” and “Gen. Wesley Clark is a deranged liar” are proud to bring you a new one:

“Cruz Bustamante is refusing to repudiate his association as a student with the racist group MEChA. Why is the media ignoring this story?”

Now, the MEChA question actually seems to come up quite a bit in stories about Bustamante. But I can’t deny that major media haven’t given the question the prime-time treatment. Why is that? Again, I don’t know. I’d like to think that it’s because the media have examined the charges, called some members of MEChA, and decided that a full-court press is inappropriate.

You see, this is a bullshit story.

Let’s look a little closer.

First of all, is MEChA, in fact, a racist organization? (Or as Glenn Reynolds put it, is MEChA a group of “fascist hatemongers”?)

It seems to me that this question rests on a more basic question: “Is MEChA, in any meaningful sense, an organization?” According to Rodolfo F. Acuna:

MECHA is a student organization with no formal central body, it has no national office, it has no budget, and it has no constitution. Each MECHA chapter has a set of bylaws that the student affairs office must approve. These bylaws state that the organization is open to all students no matter their race, sexual orientation, gender or religion.

Now, the distinction between a “constitution” and a “set of bylaws” leaves some room for fudging. It does seem apparent, though, that a chapter of MEChA at UCLA can be quite different from a chapter at Yale. But both groups are forbidden to discriminate by race, which seems like a strange bylaw for a racist organization of fascist hatemongers. Since so many conservatives have said that MEChA is the moral equivalent of the Klu Klux Klan, I can only assume that the Klan is open to everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender or religion.

(UPDATE: Rodolfo Acuna is wrong (and by extension, I’m wrong) that MEChA has no constitution. Tacitus points to this document, which certainly appears to be a constitution.)

(Side note: I was a member of a music fraternity at Northwestern. Unlike MEChA, this organization has a national office and a constitution. Nonetheless, some the chapters are very different from each other. For example, some chapters are quite proudly redneck, and some are predominantly gay. I should also say that many, many members would be horrified if someone was to quote me and then conclude that the group is a liberal organization.)

I don’t know how trustworthy Rodolfo Acuna is. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that it makes sense to think of MEChA as a nationwide organization, rather than a group of student organizations who share a name.

Is MEChA a hate group?

There are certain organizations who keep close tabs on hate groups. The most well-known is Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. They don’t consider MEChA to be a hate group. (And they’re not blind to Latino extremism; they do consider Voz de Aztlán to be a hate group.)

The Hate Directory does not include MEChA in its lengthy list of hate groups. Neither does The Ross Institute

I don’t know anything about the Hate Directory or the Ross Institute. It is possible that their lists are just a product of their own bias, or of the obscurity of the MEChA organization.

However, there are about 300 chapters of MEChA all across the country. If MEChA is a “fascist hatemongering” organization, it has spread its horrid tentacles into 300 colleges and high schools. I’m a little surprised that the fascism and hatemongering of this organization only came to anyone’s attention when they could be used to discredit a Democratic politician.

The actual members of MEChA seem to be a little surprised to hear it described as a hate group.

Even during the campus tumult of the ‘60s and ‘70s, MEChA, which stands for Movimieto Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (Chicano student movement), was more dedicated to peaceful political activity at the colleges than to revolution in the streets, its supporters say.

“MEChA has always been a group to incorporate Latino students into the college experience,” said Fernando Guerra, head of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, which has a chapter on campus.

“It’s bizarre to assume this is some kind of radical group, seeking to overthrow part of the United States,” said Mike Madrid, who has worked on Latino affairs for the state Republican Party. “It was part of the Brown Beret and Chicano studies movement, but it’s mainly a social group and has been for years. To suggest it’s involved in paramilitary training or some underhanded conspiracy is ludicrous.”


Plenty of Latino politicians and businesspeople were involved with MEChA during their college days, said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund.

“MEChA was basically the Hispanic student organization on campuses,” said Vargas, who was a MEChA member at Stanford in the 1980s. “Anybody who had a sense of social activism and community involvement probably found their involvement through MEChA.”

For many, the group was a springboard into politics.

“For me, and many, many others, we were running for student government,” Bustamante said Thursday. “That’s how I got here.”

Of course, not everyone will trust these Latino activists to be fair and balanced. They probably wouldn’t trust Tacitus’s commentator, either:

When I was in high school, I joined MEChA for one semester. It’s actually pretty funny in retrospect because I’m not Mexican. But I grew up in Highland Park (Northeast Los Angeles) and almost EVERYONE I knew was Mexican, or Chicano, as was hip at the time. I was/am Dominican, but all my friends were Mexican, so I was a Mexican when it came to the culture and customs of the neighborhood. At that time (late 70’s) MEChA, at my high school, was more a positive organization than it is today. There were many Mexican gangs in the area, and MEChA counseled to “Get an education. Stay away from gangs. Stay away from drugs. Don’t drink. Be responsible. Make something of yourself.”

I only stopped going to the meetings because they interferred with my sports teams. But back then it was a very positive experience.

I’d hate to think that someone could demean what I’ve accomplished by using my membership in MEChA 20+ years ago to “smear” me.


Gosh, Ed, where did you get that idea?

Is the official slogan of MEChA “For the Race, Everything. For Those Outside the Race, Nothing”?

I don’t know. I did a google seach on “For the Race, Everything. For Those Outside the Race, Nothing” and MEChA. Maybe someone can correct me, because I couldn’t find a MEChA site which used that phrase. They seem to think that their slogan is “La union hace la fuerza (Unity creates power)”.

I did get a lot of hits, though, from such diverse sources as:

Capitalism magazine

The Conservative Crust

Michelle Malkin


And FrontPage Magazine

So who knows? On the one hand, you have the actual websites of the actual group in question. On the other hand, you have the honor and integrity of NewsMax, FrontPage Magazine, and Michelle Malkin. I guess, as Jack Shafer would say, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

I should say that conservative commentators didn’t just make up this phrase, although they may have mistranslated it. It comes from a document called El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan that is prominently linked by several MEChA chapters. Mickey Kaus says that a better translation might be “By means of the Race, everything. Outside the Race, nothing.” or “On behalf of the Race, everything. Outside the Race, nothing.” In some ways, I’m not totally comfortable with the tone of the document in question. But I’m not sure how much it has to do with the character of MEChA 30 years ago, or the character of the organization today.

My honest opinion, after a lot of surfing and reading, is that some MEChA chapters seem to exhibit a brand of identity politics that I don’t approve of. They seem to be very touchy and very PC. Some chapters seem to be social clubs for Latino students. Some chapters seem to be very positive, stressing individual achievement and educational outreach to Latinos at risk. Nothing makes me think that this is a racist, fascist, or hatemongering organization.

Even if MEChA itself isn’t a hate group, isn’t it closely associated with hate groups like Voz de Atzlan?

Good question. Tacitus has spent a lot of time concentrating on MEChA “fellow travellers”.

Mechista fellow-travellers are people like Professor of Chicano Studies at the University of New Mexico Charles Truxillo, who proposes the formation of an Aztlán-style polity called La Republica del Norte “by any means necessary.” … Mechista fellow-travellers are also people like Hector Carreon and Ernesto Cienfuegos, who vigorously tout the idea of Aztlán via their website. I wouldn’t click on this link at work—Aztlá is a hate site as surely as any Aryan Nations site is. Their target of choice? The Jews, of course….

A quick tour of their site will reveal that Voz de Atzlán is, indeed, a loathsome racist group. Of course, Southern Poverty Law Center seems to believe that there are only about a dozen members (link via Orcinus). Cruz Bustamante, needless to say, has never been one of them.

As far as I can tell, Voz de Atzlán doesn’t link to MEChA, and I haven’t find a MEChA page that links to Voz de Atzlán. (I’m not saying they don’t exist; there are hundreds of chapters out there, and I’m not reading them all.)

If Bustamante is a “fellow traveller” with Voz de Atzlán, it makes sense that they would be generally supportive of Bustamante, right?

August 11, 2003

…Once again, Mexican-Americans are caught in a quandary within the two party dictatorship. Cruz Bustamante of the Democratic Party does not seem to be a viable alternative. He appears to be a mere hispanic “replica” of the incompetent and crooked Gray Davis who is called “Our Jewish Governor” by the Jews of California.

Well, maybe Bustamante isn’t sufficiently hard-core for la Voz. Fair enough. But at the very least, surely Bustamante’s fellow travellers in Voz de Atzlán would encourage Latinos to support Bustamante in the recall?

La Voz de Aztlán Editorial
Los Angeles, Alta California
August 7, 2003

…There is no question that the incompetent and corrupt Gray Davis will be ousted. Most Californians would like to recall the entire current legislature as well. We are fed up with the entire bunch of sleazy politicians. They have sold out the interests of the people to greedy special interests. It is time to “terminate” all of them. Perhaps, “The Terminator” who is already a millionaire and not a professional politician can accomplish this on behalf of the people.

Wait, that makes it sound like they’re supporting Schwarzenegger. Not Bustamante.

Funny, I don’t remember hearing that before.

As a point of comparison, are the ties between MEChA and Voz de Aztlán weaker or stronger than… say…. the ties between the NRA and “Patriot” anti-government militias? (Hint: Weaker.) Would conservative commentators jumping on the anti-MEChA bandwagon agree with a hypothetical left-wing movement which demanded that Republican candidates distance themselves from the NRA? (Hint: No.)

For that matter, are the ties between MEChA and Voz de Aztlán weaker or stronger than the links between the Republican party and David Duke? As you may know, David Duke ran for the Louisiana State Legislature, and won, as a Republican. Running as a Republican, Duke won 43.5 percent of the vote in an unsuccessful 1990 U.S. Senate race and won 700,000 votes in a 1991 race for the governorship of Louisiana.

I rush to point out that David Duke’s candidacy was in no way endorsed by the GOP organization, and they certainly had no use for him. Well… maybe “no use” isn’t quite the right term. They got some use out of David Duke’s mailing list. In 1995 and in 1997, Republican Mike Foster paid $152,000 for mailing lists of David Duke’s supporters. (Foster, understandably but illegally, kept the purchases secret. He was fined $20,000 by the Louisiana Board of Ethics for “failing to accurately … report campaign expenditures.”)

Mike Foster was George W. Bush’s campaign manager in Louisiana in the 2000 presidential elections.

Bustamante has been asked about his 30-year old ties to MEChA. He hasn’t renounced them. Many on the right are very upset about that.

What happened when George W. Bush was asked about his contemporary, continuing ties to Mike Foster, a man who had bought lists of white supremicist-backers for his own campaign and broke the law to conceal it? Did Bush show the moral clarity he’s famous for?

When asked a few weeks ago whether Foster, who is now Bush’s Louisiana campaign chair, should have purchased a mailing list of racists to target for votes, Bush said, “Here’s my position. Gov. Foster is a good and decent man. He’s an honorable fellow. I respect him a lot. I’m fortunate to have him as a friend and ally.”

When asked if he would have purchased a mailing list, Bush said, “I don’t know all the facts. I don’t know what the facts are. I do know I trust Mike Foster, and know he’s a good man.”

I’m just saying.

Last question. Bustamante could have defused this controversy by distancing himself from MEChA earlier on. Why didn’t he?

Good question, and I don’t know the answer. Maybe, as Mickey Kaus and others have asserted, it’s a way to energize Latino voters. Maybe, as Glenn Reynolds has insinuated, Democrats “care more about winning than they do about racism.”

Or maybe it’s this. Michelle Malkin points out that other former Mechistas include California State Assembly Speaker and Los Angeles mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa, State Assemblyman Gil Cadillo, State Sen. Joe Baca, and Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva. I’m not familiar with those politicians. However, I’m a bit of a political junkie, and I’ve never heard of any of them making any attempt to cede the Southwestern United States to Mexico. At first appearance, all they seem to have in common are Latino surnames.

If I were of a conspiratorial mindset, I’d start to think about this: Cruz Bustamante is a moderate Democrat with a thirty year political career. As far as I know, no one even tried to accuse him of Latino extremisism on the basis of his record in public service. He’s so moderate that he’s endorsed Joe Lieberman for president.

And yet many on the right are trying to tie him to a repugnant extremist philosophy. The only evidence that they have is his involvement, thirty years ago, in an organization that no one considered extremist a few weeks ago. (I can’t blame them; it’s more fun than trying to justify voting for an actor with no budget plan, no ideas, and no political exprience.)

I might start to think that the right was engaged in a cynical smear job, blurring the difference between mainstream and extremist Latino organizations in order to hurt a winning Latino Democrat. I’d start to think that just about anyone who was a member of a Latino student group in college could be tarred in exactly the same way. I might think that if they succeed with Bustamante, they’ll do it the next Latino Democrat, and the next one, and the next one.

So here’s one theory. Maybe his experience with MEChA was completely benign. Maybe Bustamante hasn’t distanced himself because he’s reflected on his experience with MEChA, and he’s doesn’t see any reason why he should. Maybe he has decided that when people with no principles start telling him to jump, he’s not obligated to ask, “How high, sir?”

Maybe, in his politically tone-deaf way, Bustamante is acting like a man.

But I’m just guessing.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has pointed out that I had typed “Bustamente” instead of the correct name, Bustamante. I regret the error, and it has been corrected.

I should point out that I am Ted Barlow, not Crooked Timber, and I can’t assume that the other members of this blog share my conclusions of Bustamante and MEChA.

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The Poor Man » It’s beginning to look a lot like Kipmas
12.04.05 at 4:17 pm



Walterthump 09.02.03 at 6:25 am



bad Jim 09.02.03 at 7:53 am

The L.A. Times did publish a small article on MEChA largely consistent with what you’ve written. There’s no real story there.


Keith M Ellis 09.02.03 at 8:17 am

It’s not an engineered smear-job, it’s ignorance coupled with bigotry. It also goes right to the heart of large number of Americans’ fears: the encroaching Latino majority in the southwest. And I can assure you that “ceding the SW US to Mexico” (or a secession) is not a radical position among activist (or merely aware) Latinos, at least as a light-hearted jest…I’ve heard it often. They don’t truly want that outcome any more than contemporary southerners truly want a Confederacy. (Or the Welsh want an independent nation.) It’s about identity and an expression of disgruntlement at being a political and social disadvatnaged group in their own land (in the case of New Mexico, where I’m from, and where the formerly-majority Hispanic population goes back many generations to the first settlement of North America). My point is that I doubt that it would be very hard at all to find scattered such comments in MEChA literature from a variety of chapters. Does that make the group racist or anti-American? Not really.

But this is an unimaginable reality for most of white America, which is deeply threatened by anything other than its own whiteness. Bustamente’s real sin against them is that he’s not white enough. His MEChA association is proof enough of that.

Again, I don’t think this is an issue about intentional bias of news coverage. I can think of several equivalent news slants borne of ignorance and bigotry on the Left. What it’s actually all about is some people telling other people what they both already thought they knew.

Which is the essential nature of almost all political commentary anyway.


andrew 09.02.03 at 8:24 am



tom beta 2 09.02.03 at 1:16 pm

From keith m. ellis:

But this is an unimaginable reality for most of white America, which is deeply threatened by anything other than its own whiteness.

Nonsense. A lot of conservatives have welcomed the rise in the Hispanic population in the US because Hispanic immigrants tend to vote conservatively. Rap and hip hop are the dominant music forms in the US among WHITE people, and Latin is growing. Look at contemporary white literature — it is NOT about fear of other races, and in fact tends to be either somewhat or entirely negative about “whiteness,” whatever that is. Look at the White House — white president, but Powell and Rice are very public figures with a lot of respect among whites.

This is not about white fear. This is about people not doing their homework, unlike Ted who seems to have done an excellent job on his.


Keith M Ellis 09.02.03 at 1:48 pm


No, I disagree. Conservative enthusiasm for Hispanic voters is opportunistic, not earnest. White embrace of ethnic art is not new, and it’s no more authentic than it ever was. Elvis and Eminem are both large talents, but it’s no accident that they rose higher than the black musicians that preceded them. I don’t know what you’re talking about regarding “white literature”. I read dozens of books every year, 95% by white people about white people, and I don’t see any evidence of what you’re talking about. Perhaps you are referring to a small subset of contemporary literature written by and for a certain leftist intelligentsia–if so, that’s hardly representative of American white society.

White American culture is perfectly willing to co-opt elements of non-white culture and make them its own. But it’s just as frightened by non-white otherness as it’s ever been.


Atrios 09.02.03 at 3:40 pm

I’m not going to let you off so easy. Your mistyping of the name undercuts everything else you’ve written. I will assume from now on that everything else you write is a lie.


Ted Barlow 09.02.03 at 3:47 pm


I suppose that’s the only logical conclusion.


Charlie Murtaugh 09.02.03 at 4:06 pm

Zinggggggg…. Wonderful post, and welcome back to the blogosphere!


phil 09.02.03 at 4:07 pm

Bush certainly has openly embraced southern secessionists by laying his wreaths at the tomb of Jefferson Davis. Does Bush think the United States of America should not have won the Civil War?

Does anyone know how how the MEChA story is playing out in Spanish-language newspapers?


Juan Non-Volokh 09.02.03 at 4:10 pm

If you did not find a Mecha site with the alleged Mecha slogan, it is becuase you searched the slogan in ENGLISH! A google search of the phrase in Spanish finds several, mixed in with the various conservative attacks on Bustamante.

I’ve posted on this at



Tacitus 09.02.03 at 4:34 pm

Hi Ted. A response in comments here — you’ll have to scroll down a bit, sorry.


Andrew Reeves 09.02.03 at 4:37 pm

Hmm… I can understand how the rhetoric of Marxist Chicano Activists about demographically taking over the southwest could spook a lot of Anglophones, so one can at least understand why someone on the right might conflate the Marxist Chicano Activists with more mainstream groups. It’s rather similar, really, to the way that in the mid-90’s the mainstream media often conflated the NRA with our own home-grown Nazis. To someone on the left, the right is all going to blur together, while to someone on the right, the left is all going to blur together. I’d make a remark about paralax, but it’s been close to four years since I did freshman Astronomy for non-majors and I would probably screw-up the metaphor.

Of course, the best way for Bustamante to answer any questions would be something like, “What foolishness is this? Of course I don’t support the Aztlanists and never had anything to do with them anyway.” Or, depending on what his own chapter of MeCHA thought, “I flirted with Aztlanism twenty years ago, but I’ve grown up and moved on. No I don’t support it.” Either pair of sentences could have effectively ended this silliness.


Andrew Northrup 09.02.03 at 5:11 pm

Ted: In one paragraph, you refer to a “Rodolfo F. Acuna”. Moments later, you begin referring to a “Rodolfo Acuna.” Where’s the “F”, Ted? Did it just dissappear, along with your principals and intellectual integrity? Were we supposed to not notice this amateurish bait-and-switch?

PS: I hope I’m not the first to point out that “MEChA” sounds an awful lot like “Mecca”, which is something to do with terrorism, I am led to understand. Would it be too much to ask Bustamante to denounce terrorism, Islam, and the letter ‘M’? I think he should; yet you are silent. Why this blantant double standard?


Ted Barlow 09.02.03 at 5:14 pm


Right back atcha, buddy. Check your comments.

Juan, I’m going to pull something out of my comments to Tacitus:

“You’re right; if you google the Spanish phrase, you’ll get “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan”, which is linked on some MEChA homepages. (I think that I made that clear in my post, before I say that I don’t like the contents of “El Plan.”) But it’s not their slogan; their slogan is “La union hace la fuerza (Unity creates power)”. It seems to me that many conservative critics have just grabbed a phrase, (possibly) mistranslated it, and called it the MEChA slogan. That’s ridiculous.”


Jane Finch 09.02.03 at 5:47 pm

Stellar job, Ted and WB to blogtopia.

I note Reynolds is also trying the ANSWER analogy on anyone who doesn’t see this obscure (to me, as is ANSWER) Latino group…do these people never give up?


Wayne 09.02.03 at 5:52 pm

I was at a Labor Day parade yesterday and heard Mechista Raul Grijalva, (D-AZ) speaking Spanish to a woman… Do you need more proof?

If English was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for these racists….


Rob Lyman 09.02.03 at 6:00 pm


Good job, you’ve almost got me convinced. After all, I could be said to have “associated” with some of our weirder right-wing nuts and I wouldn’t like to be labeled a racist for it.

Still, I think Bustamante could have satisfied most conservatives if he had said all of this himself. He could have openly repudiated racism and told us that he thought the sentiments expressed in El Plan were wrong. He could have explained what his college experience was like. There was no need to “renounce” his old buddies, just, if you are correct, a need to clarify. Instead, he dodged and weaved, and continues to do so.

I don’t understand why he didn’t set the record straight, unless perhaps he’s playing to an Aztlan-favoring element of the electorate. I don’t know that he is doing so; but it’s a plausible explanation. Another is that he doesn’t want to criticize Hispanics, thinking that he owes them a duty of loyalty. And, of course, his (potential!) catering to anti-anglo sentiment in CA and (possible!) identity politics are at least as big a story as Foster’s apparent attempt to appeal to racists, no? How is “Hispanic solidarity” any less objectionalbe than “white pride”?

(I would like to stress, yet again, that I’m not accusing Bustamate of racism or anything else. I’m saying that his behavior is plausibly explained by an attempt to appeal to anti-anglo sentiments and misguided notions of ethnic solidarity. This, I think, is just as damnable in a Hispanic Democrat as it is in Mike Foster or Jesse Helms, who I know darn well Ted won’t forgive for their transgressions.)

So while I’m 90% convinced that MEChA is innocent, at least for most members, I’m not ready to let Bustamante off the hook until I get some indication of what he’s up to.


Andrew Northrup 09.02.03 at 6:01 pm


Trouble is, when A.N.S.W.E.R. is routinely portrayed by the media as a bunch of ordinary concerned citizens, it’s not much of a stretch to think that MEChA might be getting a free ride, is it?

Now, does this get labelled “the media made me do it” or “America-hating liberals made me do it”? I’m asking because I want to know. Either way, I’m glad to see that the promised era of personal responsibility has finally arrived.


Rob Lyman 09.02.03 at 6:02 pm

Oh, and by the way, Michelle Malkin has been complaining about MEChA for a long time…not just for a “few weeks.”

That doesn’t make her right, but it does make her consistent.


Phil 09.02.03 at 6:23 pm

Another phil, who is not me, commented: “Bush certainly has openly embraced southern secessionists by laying his wreaths at the tomb of Jefferson Davis. “

This, of course, never happened, but telling great big lies is not the exclusive province of any portion of the political spectrum, is it, phil?


Michael J. Totten 09.02.03 at 6:46 pm

Good, convincing post.


Gonzo 09.02.03 at 7:26 pm

Here’s a nice bit of “from the horses mouth” on MEChA, in the form of an O’Reilly segment about theft from a Berkely publication of papers containing an article critical of MEChA. O’Reilly had someone from the conservative publication and the head of the student chapter of MEChA at Berkely.


The “money” section starts at 5:33 of this roughly seven minute clip, and includes this interesting exchange:

Gochez: We fight for the self determination of our people.

O’Reilly: What does that mean?

Gochez: What does that mean? Chicanas and Chicanos here, in Aztlan, what we call Aztlan, primarily the southwest United States; that’s pretty much, that’s us and any other oppressed group —
O’Reilly: You want self determination —

Gochez: right

O’Reilly: — what does that mean? Do you want your own State?

Gochez: We are the nation of Aztlan.

O’Reilly: Allright, that’s good, you are the nation of Aztlan. That’s great. Do you want your own territory? Do you want them to give you some land?

Gochez: We understand that we are sitting on stolen land. This is indigenous land. This is native land, you know, Mexicano land.

O’Reilly: So if I gave you Arizona would you be happy with that?

Gochez: They took a lot more than Arizona.

O’Reilly: OK, So you want more than that.


Wes F. in Cincinnati 09.02.03 at 8:06 pm


Which music fraternity? Perchance was it the Iota chapter of said fraternity?

Wes F.


David Pittelli 09.02.03 at 8:09 pm

MEChA is nationalist, socialist, racialist and irredentist. From a document that virtually all MEChA sites link to as part of their basic philosophy:

El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán
In the spirit of a new people that is conscious not only of its proud historical heritage but also of the brutal “gringo” invasion of our territories, we, the Chicano inhabitants and civilizers of the northern land of Aztlán from whence came our forefathers, reclaiming the land of their birth and consecrating the determination of our people of the sun, declare that the call of our blood is our power, our responsibility, and our inevitable destiny.

We are free and sovereign to determine those tasks which are justly called for by our house, our land, the sweat of our brows, and by our hearts. Aztlán belongs to those who plant the seeds, water the fields, and gather the crops and not to the foreign Europeans. We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent

Brotherhood unites us, and love for our brothers makes us a people whose time has come and who struggles against the foreigner “gabacho” who exploits our riches and destroys our culture. With our heart in our hands and our hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture. Before the world, before all of North America, before all our brothers in the bronze continent, we are a nation, we are a union of free pueblos, we are Aztlán.


neil 09.02.03 at 9:25 pm

Clearly this story is all smoke and no fire. But I think it’s clear what the point of this race-baiting is. If Bustamante capitulates to the right-wingers and disavows MEChA, he will alienate its members (who, it seems, are not revolutionaries as a rule) and by extension, their friends and families. They’re simply trying to pressure him into pushing away his base.

The right-wing hypocrisy here is just mindblowing. I can see no reason why Cruz Bustamante should renounce MEChA that doesn’t lead directly to the belief that any conservative politician should renounce the Republican Party (or if you want to take the slippery slope down a little farther, that you could say the same for Democrats).


Xrlq 09.02.03 at 9:37 pm

FYI, it’s Aztlán, not “Atzlán.” Not that it really matters, of course, since there is no such place.


Ratherworried 09.02.03 at 9:49 pm

It is interesting how merely changing the ethnicity determines whether an organization is a ‘hate’ group. Of course I don’t feel that Bustamante should be considered a racist just because he was a member of an organization that espoused racist principles like segregation…after all no one would call David Duke a racist…right?

Seriously though, if Bustamante is really a member of what is certainly…no one can doubt…indefensibly…you can not argue against it with a straight face…organization that has now or in the past advanced a race based agenda in favor of segregation and you find yourself supporting it or him…look in the mirror…you are seeing David Duke or any other right wing white supremist nut case staring back at you. There is no difference and yes you should feel shame.


John 09.02.03 at 9:53 pm

I have to say, I think I could accept a lot of Mr. Lyman’s sensible post, with the exception of the rhetorical question:

How is “Hispanic solidarity” any less objectionable than “white pride”?

Hispanics are a frequently discriminated against minority. White people are not. As such, “Hispanic solidarity” is much less objectionable than “White pride”, which is never anything more than a cover for White supremacism and racism. Hispanic solidarity, while, in some forms, rather objectionable, is nowhere near the same level.

As to the O’Reilly interview, ba, I say. The student leader, while obviously a moron, never said that he thought the whole southwest should be restored to Mexico or whatever.

And the Plan Espiritual, while rather offensive in some ways, does not seem to me to be particularly racist. it calls white people foreigners and thieves, but it doesn’t call them racially inferior.


John 09.02.03 at 9:54 pm

Ethnic separatism by a minority group is qualitatively different from legally enshrined segregation as practiced in the American South or apartheid-era South Africa. That Republicans never seem able to comprehend this is rather distressing. I’m not a fan of either of these things, but they’re clearly quite different from one another. Specifically, white people would hardly be oppressed by hispanic or black separatism.


Ratherworried 09.02.03 at 10:00 pm

I can not believe these comments!

Segregationalist policies are wrong. It does not matter whether you view yourself as a powerless minority, powerful majority, descriminated against sub-culture, or whatever, you do not have the right to group another bunch of U.S. citizens together and arbitrarily write them off as inferior or as not having the same rights as your group.

I guess some fringes of the left are willing to prostitute Civil Rights if they think it will help them keep California.

You can not feel enough shame! Go crawl back under your rock.


Gonzo 09.02.03 at 10:57 pm

[quote]Specifically, white people would hardly be oppressed by hispanic or black separatism[/quote]


Why doncha go read the MEChA documents. I dare say that EVERYONE except “chicanos” would be “oppressed” by the brand of separatism espoused by those guys if taken to their desired conclusion (i.e., ethnic cleansing of CA, AZ, CO, NM, NV, and TX to get rid of all non-mechistas)

Good heavens, man. Read!


Chuck Koeller 09.02.03 at 11:46 pm

You missed the important one, The one that MENChA stans for.

El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán


In the spirit of a new people that is conscious not only of its proud historical heritage but also of the brutal “gringo” invasion of our territories, we, the Chicano inhabitants and civilizers of the northern land of Aztlán from whence came our forefathers, reclaiming the land of their birth and consecrating the determination of our people of the sun, declare that the call of our blood is our power, our responsibility, and our inevitable destiny.

We are free and sovereign to determine those tasks which are justly called for by our house, our land, the sweat of our brows, and by our hearts. Aztlán belongs to those who plant the seeds, water the fields, and gather the crops and not to the foreign Europeans. We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent

Brotherhood unites us, and love for our brothers makes us a people whose time has come and who struggles against the foreigner “gabacho” who exploits our riches and destroys our culture. With our heart in our hands and our hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture. Before the world, before all of North America, before all our brothers in the bronze continent, we are a nation, we are a union of free pueblos, we are Aztlán.

Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada.

El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán sets the theme that the Chicanos (La Raza de Bronze) must use their nationalism as the key or common denominator for mass mobilization and organization. Once we are committed to the idea and philosophy of El Plan de Aztlán, we can only conclude that social, economic, cultural, and political independence is the only road to total liberation from oppression, exploitation, and racism. Our struggle then must be for the control of our barrios, campos, pueblos, lands, our economy, our culture, and our political life. El Plan commits all levels of Chicano society – the barrio, the campo, the ranchero, the writer, the teacher, the worker, the professional – to La Causa.

Nationalism as the key to organization transcends all religious, political, class, and economic factions or boundaries. Nationalism is the common denominator that all members of La Raza can agree upon.

Organizational Goals
UNITY in the thinking of our people concerning the barrios, the pueblo, the campo, the land, the poor, the middle class, the professional-all committed to the liberation of La Raza.

ECONOMY: economic control of our lives and our communities can only come about by driving the exploiter out of our communities, our pueblos, and our lands and by controlling and developing our own talents, sweat, and resources. Cultural background and values which ignore materialism and embrace humanism will contribute to the act of cooperative buying and the distribution of resources and production to sustain an economic base for healthy growth and development Lands rightfully ours will be fought for and defended. Land and realty ownership will be acquired by the community for the people’s welfare. Economic ties of responsibility must be secured by nationalism and the Chicano defense units.

EDUCATION must be relative to our people, i.e., history, culture, bilingual education, contributions, etc. Community control of our schools, our teachers, our administrators, our counselors, and our programs.

INSTITUTIONS shall serve our people by providing the service necessary for a full life and their welfare on the basis of restitution, not handouts or beggar’s crumbs. Restitution for past economic slavery, political exploitation, ethnic and cultural psychological destruction and denial of civil and human rights. Institutions in our community which do not serve the people have no place in the community. The institutions belong to the people.

SELF-DEFENSE of the community must rely on the combined strength of the people. The front line defense will come from the barrios, the campos, the pueblos, and the ranchitos. Their involvement as protectors of their people will be given respect and dignity. They in turn offer their responsibility and their lives for their people. Those who place themselves in the front ranks for their people do so out of love and carnalismo. Those institutions which are fattened by our brothers to provide employment and political pork barrels for the gringo will do so only as acts of liberation and for La Causa. For the very young there will no longer be acts of juvenile delinquency, but revolutionary acts.

CULTURAL values of our people strengthen our identity and the moral backbone of the movement. Our culture unites and educates the family of La Raza towards liberation with one heart and one mind. We must insure that our writers, poets, musicians, and artists produce literature and art that is appealing to our people and relates to our revolutionary culture. Our cultural values of life, family, and home will serve as a powerful weapon to defeat the gringo dollar value system and encourage the process of love and brotherhood.

POLITICAL LIBERATION can only come through indepen-dent action on our part, since the two-party system is the same animal with two heads that feed from the same trough. Where we are a majority, we will control; where we are a minority, we will represent a pressure group; nationally, we will represent one party: La Familia de La Raza!

Awareness and distribution of El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán. Presented at every meeting, demonstration, confrontation, courthouse, institution, administration, church, school, tree, building, car, and every place of human existence.

September 16, on the birthdate of Mexican Independence, a national walk-out by all Chicanos of all colleges and schools to be sustained until the complete revision of the educational system: its policy makers, administration, its curriculum, and its personnel to meet the needs of our community.

Self-Defense against the occupying forces of the oppressors at every school, every available man, woman, and child.

Community nationalization and organization of all Chicanos: El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán.

Economic program to drive the exploiter out of our community and a welding together of our people’s combined resources to control their own production through cooperative effort.

Creation of an independent local, regional, and national political party.

A nation autonomous and free – culturally, socially, economically, and politically- will make its own decisions on the usage of our lands, the taxation of our goods, the utilization of our bodies for war, the determination of justice (reward and punishment), and the profit of our sweat.

El Plan de Aztlán is the plan of liberation!

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Walt Pohl 09.02.03 at 11:50 pm

Ratherworried: I have a two-part question for you.

1) Do you really think Cruz Bustamente has a secret agenda to make Calfornia knuckle under to Latinos?

and, if your answer to part 1 is yes,

2) Are you high?


rea 09.03.03 at 12:42 am

Well, there are a lot of screwy things about this rightwing-generated MECha controversy, but let me point out another one. The following passage is cited above as evidence of racism:

“With our heart in our hands and our hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture. Before the world, before all of North America, before all our brothers in the bronze continent, we are a nation, we are a union of free pueblos, we are Aztlán.”

The thing is, “mestizo” means a person of mixed race, usually a mixture of European and Indian. The children of unions of mestizos and Europeans are mestizos, in much the same way that the children of white and black unions were considered black. These people aren’t exactly racists–they’re more like advocates of racial mixing . . .


Russell L. Carter 09.03.03 at 1:14 am

The unstated logic appears to be that because the Civil War was won by the proponents of the Union, therefore the results of the Mexican-American war are justified by the same principles, and it is therefore ok to label all dissidents to the current state of affairs, irregardless of which war that caused some part of it, as ‘racist’. It doesn’t matter, say the Republicans, that the Mexican-American war was fought for the cause of strictly imperialistic racism, and the Civil War fought against racism based slavery: they’re morally equivalent, and ALL people who don’t like the results and conjure up alternatives are ‘racist’.

And I have to add that the Republican logic looks awfully weird viewed from the state that encompasses the Navajo Nation.

Bustam?nte participated in MEChA 30 years ago, it seems. It is not disputable that Mexicans were explicitly oppressed at that time, and it seems natural that a person of his ilk inclined to public service would spend at least some time exploring a variety of ideas that could later be termed a ‘youthful indiscretion’. I doubt he is as intelligent as Jurgen Habermas, but the principle would seem to be the same. Habermas has disavowed violence. Since no violence apparently has been promoted by MEChA, at least from the evidence of the “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán”, no disavowel is required.

This all stinks to high heaven of PC. Thanks Tacitus and pals for tearing up the 1st Amendment.


Gabriel Gonzalez 09.03.03 at 1:37 am

Much of the to-do here seems to arise out of a silly mistranslation. The expression “For the Race, Everything. For Those Outside the Race, Nothing” is not even a close translation of “Por La Raza, todo. Fuera de La Raza, nada.” The Spanish text translates as: “Through La Raza, everything. Outside of La Raza, nothing”, which is a self-directed exhortation quite a bit less sinister than the false English translations circulating would suggest. One must also consider the historical origin and meaning of the term “La Raza”, a Latin American term meant to be inclusive, not exclusive (although admittedly many Chicano organizations have misappropriated the term to mean Mexican).


Anarch 09.03.03 at 3:59 am


The Berkeley chapter of MEChA split in 1998 when a group of around 6-8 students decided mainstream MEChA wasn’t radical enough for them. I’m guessing that that O’Reilly interview was conducted with the schismatic Mechistas and not with the MEChA chapter proper.

Added in proof: Here’s the Daily Cal’s article on the split. I wasn’t able to discover the “Berkeley MEChA”s relationship to MEChA or to “MEChA de UC Berkeley”, the established (official?) MEChA chapter at Berkeley.


Anarch 09.03.03 at 4:06 am

Excuse me: Nine students walked out, not 6-8 as I said above. My apologies.

[I have no idea how big MEChA is/was before the split, or how the two organizations have grown since then.]


Matthew 09.03.03 at 4:22 am

Ethnic separatism by a minority group is qualitatively different from legally enshrined segregation as practiced in the American South or apartheid-era South Africa.

The Serbs were a minority group in Bosnia, so I guess their attempt at separatism wasn’t nearly as bad as Apartheid. Gotcha. Say, when did liberals stop believing in pluralism?


msg 09.03.03 at 5:16 am

I don’t know anything about Bustamante’s politics. I think the odds are pretty high he did some deals along the way. He endorses Lieberman. But he is hispanic, Latino, Mexican. Mestizo the way a lot of Californianos use it means the Indian Spanish mix. But if you look at most of the ‘Mexicans’ washing dishes banging nails running leaf blowers, they’re Indians. With Spanish surnames. I remember a labor bus hit by a train back in the 60’s. Those guys were working for next to nothing, then they were gone. The Salinas valley press treated it like a truck load of chickens spilled on the highway. There’s no historical record of what it was really like, it’s all in the memories of people who were there. Then they get old and the history’s gone. Talking about it is reliving it. So it isn’t there in the minds of the young, in the minds of the sheltered and privileged who never saw it when it was happening. It’s off topic I know. But really that’s what we mean when we say racism. It’s been bowdlerized to mean you couldn’t get a job, or a nice house. But it was much much worse than that.


John 09.03.03 at 5:24 am

Bosnian Serb oppression of Muslim Bosnians was bad because the former were supported by the much larger population of Serbia proper. Even if you believe that the Mexican government is going to support these ridiculous plans, that’s nowhere near the same thing. But why am I even arguing?

Look: all racial separatism is, at the very least, distasteful. Racism, is, in particular, awful. On the other hand, black people hating white people for oppressing them for centuries can surely be seen to be *less bad* than white people hating black people for being genetically inferior, especially given that white people have had, and continue to have, the upper hand in this country.

But what’s the point of arguing this to people who are clearly doing their best not to understand what I’m saying?


Brian Weatherson 09.03.03 at 5:39 am

From the department of interesting analogies department:

The Serbs were a minority group in Bosnia, so I guess their attempt at separatism wasn’t nearly as bad as Apartheid.

Er, the whites were also a minority group in South Africa, at least if ‘minority’ here just means smaller, which is the only way to make the statement about the Serbs come out true. So I’ve got no idea what the argument is here.

It’s sloppy terminology (at best) to use ‘minority’ to mean ‘oppressed’, but that’s pretty clearly what’s meant in these contexts – or so I’ve always assumed.


Another Duncan 09.03.03 at 1:35 pm

Seems to me that a mutual aid and self-help group organised by and for an ehtnic minority is viewed by some members of the American right as a hate filled racist conspiracy. Projection anyone?


Rob Lyman 09.03.03 at 3:51 pm


I’m not prepared to let anyone off the hook for hating me.

If someone with a similar skin tone to me did something bad to someone with a similar skin town to some other guy, that doesn’t justfy that other guy’s hate for me in any way, shape, or form.

Hate is still hate; racism is still racism; racialism is still racialism.


Dexter Descarte 09.03.03 at 8:24 pm

Seriously though, if Bustamante is really a member of what is certainly… [an] organization that has now or in the past advanced a race based agenda in favor of segregation…

Uh, like the United States? Both major political parties? The Southern Baptist Convention? The Catholic Church? We’re all members of at least one organization that “has now or in the past advanced a race based agenda in favor of segregation”.


james 09.03.03 at 8:53 pm

Here is a website claiming to be the MEChA National Webpages. There is also a National Constitution. If this site is genuine, the MEChA organization is centrally organized.


Please draw your own conclusions.


John 09.03.03 at 9:47 pm

Yes, minority was a poor choice of words. I should have said “oppressed”. As far as letting people off the hook for hating one, i agree, any kind of racially motivated hatred is wrong. And the idea that only white people can be racists is silly. But racism by white people is a lot more charged than racism by non-white people in American society, just because, in the past, white people have oppressed non-white people, and not vice versa.

Further, my point had to do with racial solidarity, rather than racism per se. Racial solidarity among black people was what produced the civil rights movement, at least in part. To say that this is morally comparable to “white pride” movements which are basically just fronts for white supremacism and racism is offensive.


Andrew Ian Dodge 09.03.03 at 10:06 pm

The hypocrisy on show in this piece and in some of the comments is staggering…


Outlandish Josh 09.03.03 at 10:16 pm


Well written, well researched, well timed. You are a scholar and a gentleman. Cheers to you.


Xrlq 09.04.03 at 2:13 am

The Right Wing™ didn’t create MEChA or draft its constitution or its racist slogans. Blame MEChA for its own racist tendencies; don’t blame its critics for merely pointing them out.

And your creative translation of “mestizo” is way off the mark. By identifying themselves as “mestizos,” they are simply pointing out how their own race came into being, and then only if they are consciously thinking about the etymology of the word (which, in all likelihood, they aren’t). They’re certainly not advocating the “mixing” of any races on a going-forward basis.


You owe it to the readers to either (1) explain what part of the First Amendment you think protects MEChA (or anyone else) from being criticized by Tacitus (or anyone else), or (2) admit that you were on crack when you made that extremely silly comment.


S.A. Smith 09.04.03 at 7:41 am

Forget whether MEChA is a racist organization. I think one could argue either way.

However, in a state where illegal immigration from Mexico is an issue of increasing importance, it’s absurd to call it a “bullshit” or trumped-up issue. I’m a life-long Democrat (more moderate these days) and California citizen and I think it’s a matter of credibility.

I’d like to ask my more left-leaning friends, if a white Republican had revealed himself to be a casual user of the “N-word,” as Bustamante has, would the issue of his attitude on race, in the most diverse of states, also be a “bullshit” issue?

Just be honest. Bustamante is getting something of a pass by most of the more liberal media outlets (the Chron/Times/Bee) because they don’t want to do excessive damage to his chances of winning; nor do they want to be perceived as being anti-latino or anti-immigration, which is a real danger in California for anyone who expresses the un-PC view on such things.


S.A. Smith 09.04.03 at 7:52 am

One more thing, does anyone know whether MEChA speaks to the people who populated “Aztlan” before a bunch of Spandiards happened along and told them they were now living in Mexico?


Ratherworried 09.04.03 at 5:25 pm

Ratherworried: I have a two-part question for you.

1) Do you really think Cruz Bustamente has a secret agenda to make Calfornia knuckle under to Latinos?

and, if your answer to part 1 is yes,

2) Are you high?

The answer is no…which leads me to your question…Does it matter to you why he has joined a racist organization?

I assume you might have a problem with a Republican joining a radical right wing group that espoused creating a ‘whites-only’ enclave. Despite the fact that the politician might have no intention of ever trying to implement the organization’s position.

Is this your best defense for this outrageous behavior?


Now go crawl back under your rock.


Blogreader 09.04.03 at 8:48 pm


I thought your article was very fair and balanced. I live in California and even though I’m not a Bustamante supporter per se, I was wondering about this issue. I agree with you that this is a Bullshit Story. However, you bring up the fact that the story is politically motivated, which I agree with. My question then is, why isn’t anyone looking at Dubya’s affiliation with the Skull and Bones Society; and how that might have effected his pattern of lying and reveal his true agenda?



Duke 09.05.03 at 7:06 am

“ratherworried” brings up the point that nobody has explored: what do the original inhabitants of “Azatlan” think about their land being reclaimed by the Spanish invaders?

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