Thursday, May 04, 2006

Reconquista! redux

Do you realize that in addition to fluoridating water, why, there are studies underway to fluoridate salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk, ice cream? Ice cream, Mandrake? Children's ice cream!...You know when fluoridation began?...1946. 1946, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.
-- Gen. Jack D. Ripper

You know, a conspiracy theory like Mexican 'Reconquista' is just too good to give up on easily, I guess -- especially when your whole enterprise is all about busily grasping at whatever straws might float your way.

So Gen. Michelle D. Ripper decides to swing away again, claiming she has proof, dammit, that "Reconquista!" is real:
On the Sean Hannity radio show Monday, I debated (or rather listened to five minutes of screeching by) a young member of the radical group MeCha. A student at the University of San Francisco, she denied that her group still subscribed to 1960s identity politics, then promptly delivered a full-throated rant about Mexico's right to reclaim American territory: "We believe that we have the right to be in this land…Aztlan is California! Aztlan is this country! This country was ours ... We didn't cross the borders. The borders crossed us ... This country is based on exploitation!"

On NPR's "All Things Considered," Gloria Ramirez Vargas, a politician in Baja, Calif., rallied her constituents with a similar cry: " Many Mexicans are nourishing the ground in the U.S. , but those lands were once ours. Those same lands, which now with intelligence, with love and with a lot of work, we are re-conquering again for our Mexico."

On leading conservative talk show station KFI in Los Angeles, hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou interviewed Tony Valdez, who also invoked "manifest destiny" as a rationale for supporting the sabotage of our immigration laws. He pontificated about 1846, recycled the "We didn't cross the borders" nonsense, inveighed against the war in Iraq, and exclaimed: "You took this country. You killed people in order to take this country for yourselves."

Valdez is a FOX News 11 reporter at KTTV in L.A.

OK, so let's review:

-- Malkin presents us with the usual parade of fringe signs from the marches, ignoring of course the prevalence of American flags and pro-American signs. None of the signs are about Mexico retaking U.S. lands -- though there are many that advocate the notion that the Southwest is part of Latinos' indigenous homeland.

-- She gives us three live examples that are supposed to represent people advocating that the Southwest be returned to Mexico. Who are they? A student. An obscure local politician. And a TV reporter.

But note that only one of them (Ramirez Vargas) seems to actually advocate that. The reporter is talking about past injustices. The MEChA member is advocating the concept of Aztlan, which essentially holds that the Southwest is part of her people's indigenous homeland. She says nothing about "Mexico's right to reclaim American territory." Malkin's putting words in her mouth.

And note: None of them -- not one -- uses the phrase "Reconquista." Nor do any of the signs she cites.

Let's revisit Malkin's original claim:
Aztlan is a long-held notion among Mexico's intellectual elite and political class, which asserts that the American southwest rightly belongs to Mexico. Advocates believe the reclamation (or reconquista) of Aztlan will occur through sheer demographic force. If the rallies across the country are any indication, reconquista is already complete.

Are any of the people Malkin cites "among Mexico's intellectual elite and political class"?

Er, no.

Can she cite any examples of those "elite" -- or hey, even some shoot-from-the-hip right-wing pundit -- advocating "Reconquista"?

Er, no.

As for MEChA, there is no instance of "Reconquista!" advocacy on its record. The phrase does not appear in either El Plan de Santa Barbara or El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan, two of the 1969-era documents that get the "MEChA is racist" crowd all worked up. Nor can you find it in the more comprehensive, and current, "Philosophy of MEChA". None of them talk about returning Southwest territory to Mexico.

Indeed, as I pointed out way back when, the actual record of MEChA's activism is largely one of all-American advocacy. As one commenter I cited put it:
MeCHA has been an integral part of student life for decades; many, if not most, of my Chicano friends and acquaintances were involved with it; it was then and probably is now an advocacy organization which worked to bring Chicanos (now Latinos) into the educational institutions, to feed and clothe underprivileged children in the community, including those of the migrant farmworkers, was involved with Caesar Chavez in advocating for better working conditions for the migrant workers, and provided tutoring, mentoring, and fellowship for students, as do many other student organizations.

I don't think the Minutemen can say the same.

Perhaps more to the point, as I explored in detail then as well as more recently, where did the idea of "Reconquista!" originate?

Gen. Malkin won't tell you, Mandrake.

That's because it originated on the extremist right. It appears to have been coined, as a term applied to the current immigration wave from Mexico (the original Reconquista involved Spain's reacquisition of formerly Muslim lands), by Glenn Spencer, who runs the white-supremacist American Patrol organization. You know: the fellow who helped originate the concept of anti-Latino border patrols.

The kind of fellow who says things like:
"If the Border Patrol had done its job, using the technology that is available to us, we could stop these people," Spencer said in November, when he was a guest on the Donahue show. "This is an invasion of the United States!"

The kind of fellow who hands out videotapes of his conspiracy theory in Congress -- with a notable courier:
Spencer sent every member of Congress a copy of his videotape — "Bonds of Our Nation" — that purports to prove the Mexican government and Mexican-Americans are plotting to take over the American Southwest and create the nation of Aztlán. Hand-delivering the videos was Betina McCann, the fiancé of neo-Nazi Steven Barry.

The kind of fellow who fires shots into his neighbor's garage door:
After a neighbor reported hearing two shots fired and a weapon cocked outside her home, local officers drove out and found that bullets had been fired into the woman's garage door. Spencer, claiming that he opened fire after hearing suspicious noises outside, was arrested on three felony counts of disorderly conduct with a weapon, one felony count of endangerment and one count of misdemeanor criminal damage. A few days earlier, following a series of death threats against Spencer, his home headquarters had been burglarized, Spencer claimed.

Ah, yes ...
I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love...Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I-I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women, er, women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake ... but I do deny them my essence.

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