This article was originally written and posted at Baldwin Park Democrat.
The Republicans opposing U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the United States Supreme Court continue in their efforts to alienate the entire Hispanic American community. The newest target? La Raza. (La Raza is often incorrectly translated as "the race"; the more correct English translation would be "the people" or "the community").
Republican and former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO), in the latest right-wing bigoted anti-Hispanic-American attack on Judge Sotomayor, said this yesterday on CNN
If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino - it's a counterpart - a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses. If you belong to something like that in a way that's going to convince me and a lot of other people that it's got nothing to do with race. Even though the logo of La Raza is "All for the race. Nothing for the rest." What does that tell you?"This statement by former Representative Tancredo (it will probably be repeated by Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, et al), as so much coming from the uninformed, bigoted, right wing of the GOP, is categorically untrue and has no basis in fact. They want to believe it, so in their minds it is true. But a five minute Goggle search on the Internet would show just how wrong they are.
La Raza in no way resembles the bigoted and violent KKK as suggested by Republican Tancredo; in no way whatsoever. If it resembles any organization in modern U.S. history it would probably be the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP.
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) – the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States – works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. Through its network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations (CBOs), NCLR reaches millions of Hispanics each year in 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. To achieve its mission, NCLR conducts applied research, policy analysis, and advocacy, providing a Latino perspective in five key areas – assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health. In addition, it provides capacity-building assistance to its Affiliates who work at the state and local level to advance opportunities for individuals and families.Founded in 1968, NCLR is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization headquartered in Washington, DC. NCLR serves all Hispanic subgroups in all regions of the country.
La Raza's Work-Topics, Programs and Policies center around the following issues:
- Advocacy and Electoral Empowerment
- Civil Rights and Justice
- Community and Family Wealth Building
- Employment and Economic Opportunities
Another misconception about NCLR is the allegation that we support a "Reconquista," or the right of Mexico to reclaim land in the southwestern United States. NCLR has not made and does not make any such claim; indeed, such a claim is so far outside of the mainstream of the Latino community that we find it incredible that our critics raise it as an issue. NCLR has never supported and does not endorse the notion of a "Reconquista" or "Aztlán." Similarly, NCLR's critics falsely claim that the statement "Por La Raza todo, Fuera de La Raza nada," ["For the community everything, outside the community nothing"] is NCLR's motto. NCLR unequivocally rejects this statement, which is not and has never been the motto of any Latino organization.
NCLR's work as a civil rights institution is about inclusion and participation in the American Dream, including extensive efforts to assist new immigrants in the process of fully integrating into American life. In fact, NCLR and its Affiliates work everyday to provide English classes, support naturalization efforts, and offer other services that help integrate immigrants fully into American society.
Many of these critics claim that NCLR supports dividing up sections or regions of this country by race or ethnic heritage. In particular, this claim was made by one outspoken critic of NCLR, the late Representative Charlie Norwood (R-GA). As the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization, NCLR has a long, proud, well-documented history of opposing segregation based on race or ethnicity. Toward that end, we have actively contributed to the enactment and enforcement of fair housing and other civil rights laws and supported numerous measures to ensure that all Americans have the freedom to choose where to live.
La Raza has not had, nor has today, any such motto. But for whatever reason, stupidity, willful ignorance, or intentional distortion, former Representative Tancredo would have you believe that it is and always has been the motto of the NCLR. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Republican Tancredo is wrong, absolutely wrong, about La Raza and about Judge Sotomayor. If Judge Sotomayor does belong to La Raza, it would be an asset rather than an impediment to her successful appointment as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.Continuing this untruthful and blatantly bigoted line of attack on La Raza and on Judge Sotomayor is just another nail in the Republican coffin of self-destruction.