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MEChA, Villaraigosa And The LA Mayoral Campaign By: Allan Wall
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, May 24, 2001

IMAGINE THAT a former member of a racist, anti-American organization, who has never repudiated that organization, were running for mayor of one of America's largest cities. Wouldn't that be considered a major scandal? Wouldn't such a politician be shunned by the mainstream, condemned in newspaper op-eds across the nation, and attacked for his past by his opponent?

Now imagine a second scenario. Imagine that a former member of a racist, anti-American organization, who has never repudiated that organization, were running for mayor of one of America's largest cities. But in this scenario, such a politician's past is largely ignored by the mainstream media and even by his opponent. Could such a thing be possible?

Yes, such a thing is possible and is in fact happening right now in Los Angeles, California. One of the two principal mayoral candidates is Antonio Villaraigosa, who in his college days was president of the UCLA chapter of MEChA. At the time of this writing, Villaraigosa has refused to renounce his membership in the MEChA, and has even said he is proud to have been part of the group. Villaraigosa's past is being ignored by the LA Times, the LA Daily News, and even his opponent for mayor, James Hahn.

MEChA is an acronym for "Movimiento Estudiantíl Chicano de Aztlán" - Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan. The goal of Aztlan is the secession of the Southwest U.S.A., which it calls Aztlan. The MEChA Constitution clearly calls for "the struggle for the self-determination of the Chicano people for the purpose of liberating Aztlán". Another key document , "El Plan de Aztlan", states that "Aztlan belongs to those who plant the seeds, water the fields, and gather the crops and not to the foreign Europeans. We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent....We declare the independence of our mestizo nation...Nationalism as the key to organization transcends all religious, political, class, and economic factions or boundaries. Nationalism is the common denominator that all members of La Raza agree upon." The MEChA slogan "Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada" (Everything for the Race - Nothing oustside the Race) -what is that if not racism? According to Miguel Perez , mechista of Cal State Northridge, "The ultimate ideology is the liberation of Aztlan....Non-Chicanos would have to be expelled....opposition groups would have to be quashed because you have to keep the power." "National revolution" was the theme for the 1997 MEChA conference, which called for becoming " a nation within a nation with a national plan of action as new soldiers in our struggle for national independence and an emerging XICANO nation." Simply judging from its own documents and statements, MEChA is a racist, anti-American separatist hate group, and actually shares much in common with such groups as Aryan Nations, and the White Aryan Resistance, another California-based organization.

Even the rhetoric of the groups is similar.  White Aryan Resistance declares that "We do not recognize a border between White nations" while MEChA declares that "We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent". Same rhetoric - only the race is different.  But while White Aryan Resistance is deservedly shunned, MEChA is welcome and firmly established on tax-supported universities and high schools throughout the Southwest and beyond.

(For more information on MEChA, I invite the reader to check out their websites.  And don't worry about how you're going to read it.  Although mechistas claim to be Aztecs, the vast majority of their literature is written in English, rather than in Nahuatl, the language of the real Aztecs).

Some may object that not all members of MEChA are radical separatists. I don't doubt that. Every such group has its hard-core radicals, plus a large segment of members who join for social reasons, ethnic pride, or simply to be a part of something. But you could say the same thing about the White Aryan Resistance or Aryan Nations! Regardless of the mixed motivations of their members, such groups are judged by their official ideology. So why not MEChA?  Besides, Villaraigosa was president of the UCLA chapter of MEChA, indicating that he probably was a hard-core member.

Others might deny that Villaraigosa's past association should matter now. After all, he's not a member of MEChA now. Should politicians' activities of decades ago be held against them? Good question. Just ask Bob Kerrey, whose Vietnam activities have recently been debated in the press. Or Bill Clinton, whose long-ago draft dodging was an issue in the '92 campaign. Or George W. Bush, whose long-ago cocaine and alcohol abuse was brought to light during the Y2K campaign. Why should Villaraigosa, aspiring to be the mayor of America's second-largest city, be exempt?

If Villaraigosa repudiated MEChA and apologized for his participation, that would be one thing. But not only has he not repudiated the group; he has actually stated that he is proud to have been a member.

What's troubling is the near-total press blackout of Villaraigosa's past . Aren't reporters supposed to be investigating, questioning, and if necessary challenging and calling to account those who would be leaders? Or are there certain issues that are taboo for the press? Can anyone seriously doubt that a politician who had been a member of a white racist organization would be under a lot more scrutiny?

There are some voices speaking out to inform the public about Villaraigosa's past, their challenge is  to break through the media blackout.

LA resident Hal Netkin operates a website designed to make it a campaign issue. In today's atmosphere of racial McCarthyism and public apathy, Netkin's personal activism is an encouraging example, I encourage readers to visit Netkin's website so see an example of citizenship in action.

Maybe if more residents of Los Angeles spoke out , Villaraigosa's past could become a major campaign issue. But with ballots scheduled to be cast on June 5, time is running out. Will Villaraigosa be called to account for his past, or get a free ride all the way to the mayor's office? Concerned Americans, and not only those who live in California, should be paying attention.

Allan Wall (allan39@provalue.net) recently returned to the U.S. after having resided many years in Mexico.

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