Saturday, August 16, 2003

Bustamante and the bigots

Is Cruz Bustamante, the Latino Democrat who recently moved into the lead in the race to replace Gray Davis as California's governor, a secret racist?

Republicans -- stung, perhaps, by the steady drip drip drip of news about the unsavory associations of their favorite candidate, Arnold Schwarzenegger -- have begun trotting out this meme. Is there any truth to it?

In a word, no -- though Bustamante himself would probably do everyone a favor by clearing it up definitively.

The chief accusation revolves around Bustamante's supposed connections to La Voz de Aztlan, a publication produced in Los Angeles that is openly racist (that is, it favors Latino racial supremacy) and is viciously anti-Semitic. A quick perusal of its site contents may leave you reeling. (Among the links it provides is the complete text of the notorious "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.")

Bustamante is not a known supporter of the publication, nor does he have any known political ties to its publisher.

What conservatives point out -- particularly Lowell Ponte in David Horowitz's considerably-less-than-reliable Frontpage magazine -- is that when he was in college at Fresno State University, Bustamante became involved in "Moviemiento Estudiantil Chicano de AZTLAN," or the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan, known by its acronym MEChA.

Among MEChA's idealistic positions was the belief that California and the southwestern United States -- lands that were taken from Mexico at the end of the Mexican-American War -- constituted "Aztlan," which the "Mechistas" hoped to someday reclaim for Chicanos, or "la Raza."

Since that time, the Aztlan beliefs mutated in some cases into the virulent racism of La Voz de Aztlan, whose publisher is an ex-Mechista like Bustamante. However, the entire La Voz organization, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, is constituted of about a dozen people. Bustamante has never been involved, nor does he have any continuing connections to anyone who is.

Moreover, there is simply no evidence that at the time Bustamante participated in MEChA that it espoused the kind of naked racism and virulent anti-Semitism as can be found in La Voz. Nor is there a smidgen of evidence that Bustamante ever held such views or endorsed them. The best that Ponte can do is to demand that Bustamante publicly disavow such groups.

This is, incidentally, precisely the kind of "guilt by association" of which right-wing characters like Horowitz and others regularly accuse the left and civil-rights organizations like the SPLC. But unlike the associations that the SPLC finds, say, between mainstream Republicans like Trent Lott and neo-Confederate organizations, the evidence to support such linkage is not only extremely thin in Bustamante's case, it is nearly non-existent.

It probably would help clear the air if Bustamante were to make his position regarding La Voz de Aztlan unmistakable.

However, even without such a statement, the "connections" to La Voz evaporate when one consults the publication's own positions regarding Bustamante:

He is described, variously, as "totally useless to our community and has done nothing to improve the lives of La Raza" and "a known lackey of the Jewish dominated Democratic Party in Alta California." In its most recent commentary, it had this to say:
Cruz "El Gordito" Bustamante of the corrupt Democratic Party is not a viable alternative. He is a lackey and a mere hispanic "replica" of the incompetent and crooked Gray Davis who is called "Our Jewish Governor" by the Jews of California. Bustamante is a college dropout who just last year bought a degree in chicano studies. In 1997, when then-Governor Peter "Pito" Wilson said he would support legislation that would permit executing 14 year olds, then-California Assembly Speaker Cruz Bustamante said he would support executions for "children" as young as 13. Bustamante was given marching orders to run for governor by the Jewess and US Senator Barbara Boxer. The Jewish dominated Democratic Party of California wants a fallback position in case their "Jewish Governor" Gray Davis is ousted.

Is this Ponte's idea of a "close association"?

By the logic with which Cruz Bustamante is "connected" to these haters, George W. Bush could be similarly "connected" to the Ku Klux Klan.

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