« Estrada Withdraws, Schumer Waxes, Cynicism Wins | Main | Putridity has become policy »

MEChA: It's not just for anime geeks anymore

The Curmudgeonly Clerk has one of the best summaries of the ongoing Cruz Bustamante/MECha controversy. I'm going to have to take issue, though, with the fact that he's taking it seriously.

In a nutshell, the story centers on the Man Who Would Take on The Terminator having at one point belonged to an organization that, in crusty founding documents from the late, unlamented revolutionary '60's, talked about the 'liberation of the people of Aztlan' (basically, Aztec separatism), and had the amazingly racist 'slogan' Por La Raza rodo. Fuera de La Raza nada.' (Though there's some disagreement here, roughly translated "For the Race: everything. Outside the Race: nothing.")

Queue cries by the right that Bustamante belonged to a racist organization, that he should disavow MEChA's non-inclusive beliefs, and in general that this is all a big error of judgement. And queue various interpretations from the left on how the language doesn't mean what it means, it's not important, and it's not racist at all anyway.


In the interests of consistency, I'm going to have to back Bustamante on this one. Back when the entire Trent Lott debacle was going on, I made a point that his statements, taken in context, were no big deal: what a man says at a birthday party for an old friend who once ran for president is hardly dispositive of his political views. Arguing that it was racist 'in code' implied this kind of racist Machievillianism among Republicans that gives us far too much credit. Most of us can't string a sentence together coherently, much less 'encode' it with hidden racial hate speech so we can grinningly backslap each other in clear view of reporters.

Basically, if you thought Lott was a racist before the birthday, then damn, it was a racist statement. But if you didn't bring the baggage into the comment, it didn't have anything to do with race, but had a lot to do with party.

Similarly, the entire MEChA 'scandal' excites the hypersensitive right who expects the left to live up to the (thoroughly unrealistic) standards that the left demands of its victims. Finally, we've got a 'gotcha.' I mean, it's all in a document, it's all on websites, it's all thoroughly provable.

Except... c'mon. These are the founding documents of an organization that, if it's doing anything racist, is doing so in such a low-grade manner that it hadn't hit the radar screen prior to becoming a good excuse for Limbaughesque bile. Even casual inspection of the sites seems to indicate it mostly does 'good deeds' (at least as considered in left-wing campuses), 'consciousness raising,' and the other silly ephemera of campus politics. [1] If this is the KKK in latino wrapping, it's certainly a laid back and relaxed hate group. Can you commit a 'casual dislike crime' these days?

I'm certainly not an expert, but this tempest in a teacup looks to me like what was once a possibly radical '60's group has become... well, a nifty social club. I doubt if a tenth of its members could tell you what its founding documents are, much less quote them. Sure, maybe that whole 'Raza' thing should have been repealed (or maybe not), but is it really worth the effort?

Last night I went to the De Vinimus wine tasting here at Columbia, and I'd love to join the society. Now, with any luck, no one is going to point out at my eventual Supreme Court nomination that De Vinimus has historically discriminated against Antarctic vinters or advocated for growing Norwegian wines via slave labor. [2] I doubt they do these things, but I couldn't categorically swear that I've read their founding charters to make sure. (After eight glasses of wine at a good tasting, I'm not sure I'd be able to tell you if they did.) Given that, without further evidence that Bustamante is fronting for the succession of California, New Mexico, and Arizona, or trying to mandate Austrian-American indentured servitude, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt as an honorable politician.

What was done to Trent Lott was demeaning to sensible politics (although his responses were pretty talentless, as well), but it's no better when otherwise sensible conservatives decide we're going to indulge in foolish muckraking. We might not like Bustamante, but if this is the best evidence that he's biased racially, I'd shake his hand.

[1] Casual inspection of the Yale MEChA site also reveals it's bloated with gigantic images, slow to load, and in need of a redesign... but that's my old web hand talking.

[2] And if that's the worst my political opponents can site after three years of blogging, I've not had enough fun at law school.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Post a comment

NOTICE TO SPAMMERS, COMMENT ROBOTS, TRACKBACK SPAMMERS AND OTHER NON-HUMAN VISITORS: No comment or trackback left via a robot is ever welcome at Three Years of Hell. Your interference imposes significant costs upon me and my legitimate users. The owner, user or affiliate who advertises using non-human visitors and leaves a comment or trackback on this site therefore agrees to the following: (a) they will pay fifty cents (US$0.50) to Anthony Rickey (hereinafter, the "Host") for every spam trackback or comment processed through any blogs hosted on threeyearsofhell.com, morgrave.com or housevirgo.com, irrespective of whether that comment or trackback is actually posted on the publicly-accessible site, such fees to cover Host's costs of hosting and bandwidth, time in tending to your comment or trackback and costs of enforcement; (b) if such comment or trackback is published on the publicly-accessible site, an additional fee of one dollar (US$1.00) per day per URL included in the comment or trackback for every day the comment or trackback remains publicly available, such fee to represent the value of publicity and search-engine placement advantages.

Giving The Devil His Due

Choose Stylesheet

What I'm Reading

D.C. Noir

My city. But darker.
A Clockwork Orange

About time I read this...


Projects I've Been Involved With

A Round-the-World Travel Blog: Devil May Care (A new round-the-world travel blog, co-written with my wife)
Parents for Inclusive Education (From my Clinic)

Syndicated from other sites

The Columbia Continuum
Other Blogs by CLS students

De Novo
Theory and Practice
Liberal Federalism?
Good News, No Foolin'

Nancy Pelosi covers her head and visits the head of John the Baptist.
Vlogging in from Austin.
Omikase/"American Idol"

Jeremy Blachman's Weblog: 2007
Happy Passover
Looking for Advice re: LA
Google Books

Stay of Execution
What I've Learned From This Blog, or My Yellow Underpants
The End
Mid Thirties

Legal Theory Blog
Program Announcement: Summer Programs on the Constitution at George Washington
Book Announement: Political Foundations of Judicial Supremacy by Whittington
Entry Level Hiring Report

The Volokh Conspiracy
Making the Daily Show:
Civil unions pass New Hampshire House:
Profile of Yale Law Dean Harold Koh:

Crescat Sententia
Hillary II
Politics and Principal/Agents

Law Dork
Election Approaches
Following Lewis
New Jersey High Court: 'Same Rights and Benefits'

Surveying the revival
Birds of paradise

Half the Sins of Mankind
Cheney Has Spoken Religious conservatives who may ...
Does Ahmadinejad Know Christianity Better Than MSN...
Borders as Genocide In discussions of climate chan...

For lovers of garden gnomes...and any China-freaks out there
We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

Does SOX explain the flight from NY?
More Litvak on SOX effect on cross-listed firms
What did the market learn from internal controls reporting?

The Yin Blog
Iowa City = Riyadh
Jeffrey Rosen's "The Supreme Court"
Geek alert -- who would win between Battlestar Galactica and the U.S.S. Enterprise?

Letters of Marque
And there we are

Signing Off

Dark Bilious Vapors
Jim (The Waco Kid): Where you headed, cowboy?
Bart: Nowhere special.
Jim: Nowhere special. I always wanted to go there.
Bart: Come on.
--"Blazing Saddles"

Technical Difficulties... please stand by....
The Onion should have gotten a patent first....

Legal Ethics Forum
Interesting new Expert DQ case
Decency, Due Care, and The Yoo-Delahunty Memorandum
Thinking About the Fired U.S. Attorneys

Ex Post
Student Symposium- Chicago!
More Hmong - Now at Law School
Good Samaritan Laws: Good For America?

Appellate Law & Practice
Those turned over documents
CA1: courts can’t help people acquitted of crimes purge the taint of acquitted conduct
CA1: restrictions on chain liquor stores in Rhode Island are STILL okay

the imbroglio
High schoolers turn in plagiarism screeners for copyright infringement
Paris to offer 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations to rent by the end of the year

The Republic of T.
The Secret of the Snack Attack
links for 2007-04-04
Where You Link is What You Get

Distractions for stressed law students

The Other Side: Twisted AnimationsSomething Positive, a truly good webcomic

Syndicate This Site



Stop Spam Harvesters, Join Project Honey Pot