More About MEChA from the Hoover Institution

Excerpt:

Mexican American activists reject assimilation, insist on bilingualism and multiculturalism, and lay claim to Southwest America as belonging to Mexico! Wave after wave of illegals push inexorably into the United States and find refuge in Spanish ghettos. Many Mexican American politicians and activists claim to speak for these new immigrants. Their message is not pushing assimilation but rather the protection of Spanish language and culture and the theme that the Southwest United States belongs to the descendants of Mexicans who lost the war of 1848.

Thus Rodolfo Acuña's Occupied America claims the Southwest for Mexicans. Chicano activists (Chicanismo) push not only for civil rights for illegal Mexicans but also for the return (reconquista) of the lost provinces to form Aztlán. Chicanismo demands Spanish language and culture education, not English or American cultural schooling. The Movimiento Estudiante Chicano de Aztlán (MECHA) in 1970 formed a political party, La Raza Unida, won control of Crystal City, Texas, and tried to make it into a Chicano city. The party split and has had little political impact since but could easily revive in California or Texas. MECHA survives in dozens of Chicano studies programs in the western United States. Chicano leaders have been courted by the Democratic Party and appear to have a bright future there. Add the newly made Spanish-speaking citizens of 1996 to Chicano activists and Latino politicians, and the situation becomes explosive. For example, 30 percent of the population of California is Latino; by 2000, the number will be 40 percent.

Mexican American leaders are split; on the one hand they emulate African Americans and see themselves as an aggrieved racial group demanding group rights and preferment, but on the other they boast of how they are like previous ethnic groups. The Mexican American leadership is certainly ambivalent: Chicano nationalists claim to be the inheritors of Mexican civilization and want to restore Aztlán, but others want to assimilate, have their children learn English, and become Americans as other immigrants did. Unfortunately a few Mexican American politicians such as Art Torres, a former California state senator, play the race card often. MECHA accused the Republican Party of being made up of racist/fascist European settlers.(48) The virulent, antiwhite high school textbook, Five Hundred Years of Chicano History in Pictures, boasts of Chicano "resistance to being colonized and absorbed by racist empire builders." Throughout Chicano studies programs in college and universities, one sees " a process of racialization and reawakening ethnic consciousness." These feelings are "reinforced and given a political twist by organizations like MECHA, by Chicano Studies departments, by the intrusions of Mexican politicians, and above all by an unceasing flow of new immigrants."(49) Both parties court the Latinos, the Anglos even sang Viva Mexico! at a meeting of the National Council of La Raza. No criticism was made when the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials boasted of the rising Latino demographics, "We will overwhelm."

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