A little more on MEChA

by Ted on September 3, 2003

I don’t think that I have too much more to say about MEChA; there are a lot of people who I’m not going to convince. But I wanted to share this comment on Kevin Drum’s site from “J” :

Why won’t Bustamante make a statement against separatism or fascism or racism? First of all, it hasn’t been exactly established that this is a MEChA stance. I read the Juan Non-Volokh piece, and in his fisking of Barlow, he also made one mistake that I noticed immediately. He linked to the Berkeley MEChA website, which links to that Aztlan plan that everyone is quoting. However, and there probably is no way Non-Volokh could have known this, Berkeley MEChA is actually not the official MEChA of Berkeley — they split off from the regular MEChA. The regular MEChA branch, however, doesn’t have a website. The Berkeley MEChA is decidedly more radical. You can check out the Office of Student Life listing of student groups and see that there are two MEChA’s listed (this website is for last semester, neither MEChA has registered for the Fall yet). What this says to me is that each MEChA branch is likely to have its own statement of purpose, so someone needs to investigate the branch that Bustamante actually belonged to before they demand that he renounce anything.

I certainly didn’t know that. Hat tip to Henry, who tipped me off.



Dan Simon 09.03.03 at 6:46 am

So would you say that the Berkeley MEChA is more radical, or less radical, than the Judean People’s Front?

Just curious.


Doug 09.03.03 at 10:19 am

Ted, that’s assuming the people attacking Bustamante are actually interested in facts. The evidence suggests that they are not.

ps People’s front of Judea!!


RW 09.03.03 at 1:50 pm

I don’t know much about MEChA, but that reads (to me) like someone saying that everyone should look at each “Operation Rescue” chapter’s platform before assigning criticism. Though, I could be wrong (and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time). Anyway, this is less of an eye-raiser than Bustamente using the “n” word, IMO.


Arnold Kling 09.03.03 at 6:07 pm

Gosh, I don’t remember right-wing bloggers doing all this parsing about Trent Lott’s statement at the tribute to Strom Thurmond. Many right-wing bloggers gave Lott a really hard time.

It would be pretty simple for Bustamante to denounce the racist component of MEChA. It would be even simpler for left-wing bloggers to denounce the racist component of MEChA. But y’all would rather parse.


harry 09.03.03 at 8:32 pm

For a long time many MEChA chapters were effectively fronts for a small Maoist group which was faux-radical in some ways (Third-Worldist in the extreme), slavishly pro-Democrat in others. I was once involved in setting up a forum on the Democratic Party in LA with members of an independent MEChA, and the forum was packed by LRS MEChA people who (credibly) threatened the independent MEChA people and organisers of the forum with physical violence. I’ve never felt as physically insecure in a political situation except when confronting police officers. It sounds as if not that much has changed. So the analogy with Operation Rescue only holds if Operation Rescue people are as vile to each other as they are to the women they threaten at abortion clinics. The references to Monty Python are not inappropriate but there are real differences.


JRoth 09.03.03 at 10:27 pm

So this is the big thing over on the right side of the blogosphere now? That they’ve innoculated themselves by attacking Trent Lott (whom they never really liked, and who was transparently racist for 40 years before they deigned to notice), so now any time they accuse someone on the left of racism, everyone on the left MUST attack him or her?

Tell you what, folks. When you relentlessly attack Bush’s South Carolina strategy, Reagan’s “states’ rights” speech, Willie Horton ads, Texas redistricting, the racist majority supporting Judge Moses, and the racist, anti-government “Patriots” that Rove has catered to, we’ll consider calling student cultural groups “racist.” But frankly, by the time y’all are done attacking the mainstream racists on your side, I don’t know that you’ll have time to look for fringe extremists on ours.

PS – Did I mention Schwarzenegger’s board membership on US English, an organization so deeply racist that David freaking Horowitz (and a lot of other righties) resigned from the board? Please, arnold kling, point us to your outrage at that fact.


Arnold Kling 09.03.03 at 11:11 pm


I get it. No one on the right has any moral standing whatsoever until we bow down and apologize for every actual and perceived act of racism ever committed by anyone.

I don’t know anything about Schwarzenegger. I’m not from California, but I doubt that I would vote for him if I were. I don’t believe in the populist hero myth.

I hope that the recall loses, because I want to see Davis serve out his sentence–er, term.


Ricky 09.04.03 at 1:21 am

Looks like there’s plenty of innoculation going ’round.


Barry 09.04.03 at 2:49 am

This stance by the right that Bustamanta must apologize or publicy disavow MEChA reminds me of that story about LBJ. The one where he wants the rumor spread about his opponent in a race committing beastiality. When his aid says, ‘we can’t accuse him of that’, LBJ was supposed to have said, ‘no, but we can make him deny it’.


Conservative Crust 09.04.03 at 2:54 am

Everyone wants to eat that cake of theirs. Here’s the logic that I could discern from the convoluted posts and comments on Bustamante: student “cultural groups” aren’t racist because they’re in the minority and therefore have a natural right to identify more strongly with their race/ethnicity; and conservative bloggers have a natural right to criticize ex-student cultural group members running for governor because they are in the minority of media opinion. To test this, just ask yourself, “Is Bustamante going to reclaim CA for Mexico?” (Probably not, and if he did, better for the rest of the nation anyway); “Are the opinions of conservative bloggers going to make their way into CA news recall coverage?” (Not a chance, and if they do, nobody here watches the news anyway).

So at least be consistent. Either minorities have rights or they don’t. Hispanics may be the minority in universities, but conservatives are the minority in the media. But of course there are different standards, right? (Not because it fits your agenda though.)


zizka 09.04.03 at 3:37 am

Harry’s story (one MECHA group threatening the other) verifies that “Mecha” is decentralized and that there’s no control over who can call themselves Mecha, since there’s no authoritative governing body. Given everything we know about Bustamante, I would strongly expect that he was a member of the threatened rather than the threatening Mecha, just as I would expect that in Berkeley he would be a member of the mainstream Mecha rather than the Maoist Mecha, and in the same way that he is an hated enemy rather than a friend of the “Voz de Aztlan”.

So what is the thing that he should apologize for? Being a member of a group which is under attack by a different group using the same name?

I remain convinced that this is an unworthy issue being promulgated by partisan hacks, and that the most appropriate response is to treat it as enemy trash talk, rather than as anything serious.


Walt Pohl 09.04.03 at 9:45 am

I can’t believe this issue goes on and on. Does Cruz Bustamente believes that California should be returned to Mexico, or should be an independent Hispanic-ruled state, or whatever other wacko craziness people are finding on websites? Obviously, no. So where’s the issue?


Arnold Kling 09.04.03 at 4:59 pm

“Does Cruz Bustamente believes that California should be returned to Mexico, or should be an independent Hispanic-ruled state, or whatever other wacko craziness people are finding on websites? Obviously, no. So where’s the issue?”

That’s exactly what many of Trent Lott’s supporters were saying about him–“We know he’s not a racist, so where’s the issue?” I think that they were arrogant and insensitive to the people he offended. Maybe you think they were right.


Anarch 09.05.03 at 5:52 am

I posted this on Calpundit, but as I’m still in a crotchety mood I’ll echo it here:


However, and there probably is no way Non-Volokh could have known this, Berkeley MEChA is actually not the official MEChA of Berkeley — they split off from the regular MEChA.

Grrrrrrr. Well, I’m in a crotchety mood right now, so I’d like to note that I pointed this out here at Calpundit on August 16th, which I then linked on Tacitus on August 29th and which, fwiw, I repeated on Crooked Timber on September 2nd.

And, for reference, here’s the 1998 Daily Cal article detailing this split between the Berkeley Mechistas, one last time.


Walt Pohl 09.05.03 at 7:11 am

Arnold: Actually, the simplest explanation was that Trent Lott was a racist. (The next simplest explanation is that he has no idea why Strom Thurmond ran for President in ’48, which in its own way would be pretty shocking as well.)

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