A little Mexico detour, because I'm wondering: Do news media outlets refer to the NAACP as “The Colored People” or the AJC as “The Jewish Committee”? No, they don’t. Yet while covering this month's NCLR conference in San Diego many outlets including the L.A. Times, Washington Post, and other generally reputable sources like RealClearPolitics felt it okay to refer to NCLR as "La Raza." This means that the mainstream press has adopted the semantics tricks of the right-wing propaganda machine to conflate together two very different things: NCLR -- the largest and most middle-of-the-road, big-money-backed, non-partisan Hispanic (their word) advocacy organization in the United States, and the codeword for reconquista hallucinations advocated only by an extremely small, extremely fringe, and extremely irrelevant batch of Chicano nationalists.
Doing this plays directly into the ignorant fears of paranoid immigrant-bashers. The double-standard is unacceptable. Because there are real dangers of coding and bigotry at play here: look at what just happened in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Another hate-fueled illegal immigrant lynching. Listen to the story at Free Speech Radio News. A week later, still no arrests.
We have opportunists like Lou Dobbs and the soft racism of politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger to thank for laying the rhetorical groundwork for such a climate. It needs to stop. "La Raza," once for all, is an historical term. Its use in the NCLR name merely reflects the period of the organization's founding: the 1960s. (Does anyone in the NAACP even utter the words "colored people" anymore?) It's a question ultimately of accuracy, as Carla Marrinuci blogs at SFGate.
On its end, NCLR generously takes the pains to answer its uninformed critics, but one needs only to look at the Mexican American Princes to understand just how "dangerous" are the ambitions of modern Latinos like the kind who gathered in San Diego last week to hear speeches by Barack Obama and John McCain.
* Above, Obama at the 2007 NCLR conference in Miami Beach.