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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