Fear of a Brown Planet: A Wave of Minority Politics Is Cresting in California-White Minority Politics

By Lovato, Roberto | The Nation, June 28, 2004 | Go to article overview

Fear of a Brown Planet: A Wave of Minority Politics Is Cresting in California-White Minority Politics


Lovato, Roberto, The Nation


The enemy preaches "race hatred," according to FrontPageMagazine's David Horowitz. It aims to undermine the very foundations of Anglo-American civilization--and perhaps, through sheer numbers and singleness of purpose, it will succeed. Horowitz was the featured speaker at a March rally held on the UCLA campus, where attendees denounced the "brainwashing," "evil propaganda" and "institutional racism" of their adversaries in a looming cultural war.

These white Republicans are at the forefront of a new wave of minority politics: white minority politics. Though rooted in California, this new politics of fear is cropping up across the country as its promoters redefine who is racial victim and who is racial oppressor, neatly inverting--and co-opting--the arguments and terms of the civil rights movement. The occasion for the UCLA rally was the campaign against what a recent article called "one of the most prominent and powerful organizations in the United States": the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, known as Mecha, a national Chicano student group founded during the identity and power movements of the early 1970s.

Former California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cruz Bustamante was the most high-profile Latino politician to come under attack for association with Mecha last year, though City Councilman and former LA mayoral hopeful Antonio Villaraigosa and dozens of other Latino politicos have also been targeted. At issue are references in Mecha's founding documents to "La Raza," a concept popularized by the early twentieth-century Mexican intellectual Jose Vasconcelos, which translates literally as "the race" but refers figuratively to Latinos born of the Spanish conquest of Indians. Casting this vocabulary of racial solidarity as a pernicious ideology of racial supremacy, UCLA's Republicans have raised a war chest of more than $28,000 to accomplish what Stanford University's Republicans have already done: cut off Mecha's funding. Meanwhile, university Mechas in other states, including Colorado, Texas (offices of UT El Paso Mecha were vandalized late last year) and New Mexico are facing similar challenges.

Alamo-like fears of a Latino takeover are emerging in jittery white enclaves across this national-security-driven country, in which one of every four Americans will be of Latino descent by 2050, according to a census report released this past March. Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Representative and chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, has since 9/11 regularly conflated Latino immigrants with "terrorist criminals" at meetings like one recently held in the predominantly white Los Angeles suburb of La Canada. At that event, organizers displayed an unmanned aerial vehicle that they hope will track Latino immigrants at the border the way it tracks enemy combatants in Iraq. Tancredo also rails against Latinos who threaten "our civilization" with textbooks that describe "defenders of the Alamo as slave owners, land speculators, and Indian killers."

The Sierra Club recently fended off a hostile takeover by a new breed of well-heeled, anti-immigrant, anti-Latino activists who believe they're defending American civilization against the balkanizing and breeding barbarians from the South. Mediagenic scholars like commentator and bestselling Mexifornia author Victor Davis Hanson provide intellectual cover for this hate-based movement with frequent appearances on television, radio and lecture circuits and on the Internet. (Hanson's work is supported by the Claremont and Hoover institutes, both of which receive significant funding from the Olin Foundation, which has also supported notorious Bell Curve author Charles Murray and the war think tank Project for the New American Century, or PNAC.) Cable TV ranters Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity have added their voices to the chorus warning against the Latino menace. Most recently, national security guru Samuel Huntington called US Latinos "the single most immediate and most serious challenge to America's traditional identity" in his new book, Who Are We? …

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Fear of a Brown Planet: A Wave of Minority Politics Is Cresting in California-White Minority Politics
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