Fair and Unbalanced Racism     -     08/29/03
     By      Rodolfo F. Acuna

     Fox News and the O'Reilly factor have touched off a tempest in the
     proverbial teapot by denouncing California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante for
     not renouncing his affiliation with a Chicano student organization of
     which he was a member in the 1970s. These so-called journalists equate
     MECHA with the Klu Klux Klan and violence, which at a time of general
     hysteria over terrorism is irresponsible.

     Moreover, the accusations happen to be unfounded and lack any probative
     value; one would expect more of professional journalists who are
     supposedly dedicated to search for the truth using an object
     methodology. Indeed, the instances that Fox News and its gaggle of talk
     show hosts cite where not MECHA events but events sponsored by other
     organizations. The one event that Fox News cites as violent was a July 4
     demonstration in 1996 where they said Mechistas attacked black and white
     Americans protesting illegal immigration. The truth is that many
     groups were present at this demonstration, and it was racist nativist
     groups that attacked them.

     Moreover, they accuse MEChA of association with anti-Semitic groups like
     Nation of Aztlan. Here again Fox News is guilty of distorting the facts
     and guilty of sloppy reporting. There no such group as the Nation of
     Aztlan and most MECHAS have severed ties with any group with sexist,
     anti-Semitic or homophobic agendas.

     Fox News and OReilly also mistakenly say that MEChA's motto is "for the
     race, everything. For those outside the race, nothing." Again, they have
     gotten wrong; actually the motto of MECHA is "La union hace la fuerza"
     (Unity creates power). Further the gaggle charges that MECHA has 300
     chapters in universities across the U.S. making the false assumption
     that they have a national organization with a national office. 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.
     These alleged journalist also charge that the organization is dedicated
     to the creation of the Nation of Aztlan; this is a ridiculous charge.
     Most MECHAs are dedicated to creating a space on the university campuses.

     The organization is anything but anti-Semitism and antiblack; some of
     its members are black and others are Jews. At California State
     University Northridge MECHA has formed coalitions with various groups.

     Despite the facts, the racist nativists are calling on Bustamante to
     renounce his membership in MEChA, an organization that he belonged to
     more than 30 years ago. They say that his membership in MECHA is
     certainly more relevant than Arnold Schwarzenegger's father being a
     Nazi. I really find this to be offensive. First because it trivializes
     an ideology that murdered six million people, and second because no one
     in the Latino community is stooping to this sort of demagoguery.

     In my youth, I naively believed that the only hope for democracy was
     higher education and the so-called Fifth Estate. In part I became a
     historian because of this naivety. Through the years, I had tremendous
     respect for journalist such as Edward R. Murrow.

     This respect has dwindled as journalist today have abandoned objectivity
     and the search for the truth, instead searching for ratings by playing
     on the fears of Americans. I would hope that other journalist would show
     more professionalism and base their reports on fact. The truth be told,
     if I were to grade the Fox coverage it would be a fail. In the first
     three paragraphs it makes five errors of fact. So much for fair and
     balanced coverage; so much for professionalism.

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