Friday, February 01, 2008

Spreading the bullshit

-- by Dave

Yesterday Glenn Beck teamed up with Minutemanmeister Jim Gilchrist to spew anti-Latino bigotry in the form of the decrepit and discredited claim that Latino advocacy groups are actually "racist" -- a claim that actually has its origins in the white-supremacist far right:
GILCHRIST: La Raza and MEChA are, in my opinion, the largest organized racial supremacy group in the United States today. And if we're going to have a La Raza Plaza sign, what's next? A KKK Plaza sign, a Black Panther Plaza sign? This goes right to the heart of free speech.

The broadcast raised a number of eyebrows for its outrageousness. But the truth is, this entire line of argument -- despite its utter falsity -- has become a standard talking point for conservatives.

You can find it everywhere -- even, for instance, in Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism:
Certain quarters of the left assert that "Zionism equals racism" and that the Israelis are equivalent to Nazis. As invidious and problematic as those characterizations are, why aren't we hearing similar denunciations of groups ranging from the National Council of La Raza -- that is, "The Race" -- to the radical Hispanic group MEChA, whose motto -- "Por La Raza todo, Fuera de La Raza nada" -- means everything for the race, nothing outside the race?" Why is it that when a white man spouts such nonsense it's "objectively" fascist, but when a person of color says the same thing it's merely an expression of fashionable multiculturalism?

Well, as I pointed out at the time:
This is factually false on several counts.

-- First, the slogan "Por La Raza todo, Fuerna de La Raza nada" is not the MEChA "motto." (It was simply a slogan crafted by late '60s Chicano radicals who used it in a handful of early MEChA documents.) MEChA's actual motto is La union hace la fuerza, or "Unity creates power."

-- Second, Goldberg (whose language skills, as Jeet Heer has observed, are something of a problem for his text anyway) mistranslates the slogan -- though, as we noted when exploring the MEChA meme, he is hardly the first to do so. In addition to Michelle Malkin's use of this mistranslation, it has subsequently appeared in a multitude of conservative attacks on MEChA, both in the mainstream media (see, for example, Bustamante's Fox interview, cited by Mickey Kaus, at which he was obviously baffled by the distorted translation) and throughout the blogosphere.

The slogan is intended as a declaration of fealty to one's community and their cultural heritage. Its syntax is clearly inward, not outward, in orientation. A more accurate translation would read, "In service of my people, everything; [for] apart from my people, [I have] nothing."

-- Third, "La Raza," as the Wikipedia entry accurately explains, is correctly translated not as "the race" but "the people," since it refers generically to "the people of Latin America" (or more narrowly, "of Mexico"). It's generically a multiracial term, not a racist one.

The most amusing part of Gilchrist's rant came a little further in the interview:
BROOKS: Well, speaking about bigotry, Jim, I've read that the Anti-Defamation League, ADL, has gotten involved in this campaign. What dog do they have in this fight?

GILCHRIST: Fundraising. Anti-Defamation League, like the Southern Poverty Law Center, are professional fundraising groups. And if they can proliferate hate by using people like Mark Krikorian and the Center for Immigration Studies or Jim Gilchrist, Minuteman Project, as a target for their hate, they can raise millions of dollars.

BROOKS: They monitor hate groups. They monitor hate groups. I mean --

GILCHRIST: They don't. They participate in encouraging and proliferating hate. These are not groups that you want to get -- you rely on for any valid information.

Especially not when they use a mountain of evidence to make abundantly clear what a pack of hateful, xenophobic vigilantes Jim Gilchrist and his friends are.

You'll note, perhaps, that Gilchrist's line of argument in dismissing the SPLC and ADL is awfully similar to Jonah's in dismissing my critique of his work as well -- attack the messenger's motives, and don't discuss the facts in question.

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