Defending Cruz…For Once

OK, it’s time to make a confession. I’m remiss in not getting to this sooner, but Joe Katzman yanked my chain on it, and it’s time to say something.
I was a member of MEChA. Yup, back in my college days in the early 70’s, back when it was being started. As you may have noted below, I have a bunch of Hispanic in my background (even though my Spanish – now almost all gone in favor of French – sounds like California elementary-school Spanish, which it is), and while at school, I tended to hang out with the political kids. I was a member for a quarter or two, until my political interests became more theoretical, and I realized that talking identity politics with a bunch of poor Latino kinds from the Central Valley was a little hypocritical for the half white boy from Beverly Hills.
So MEChA.
Back in the early days (as I dimly recall), the black students were well-organized, and they had their positions down. Simply being black trumped all other political arguments (remember this was at U.C. Santa Cruz, where Huey got his PhD). The Latino students felt …. how else can I say it? … left out. Brown Power and Chicano identity issues were beginning to get attention, and so, voilá, MEChA.
My recollection was of a group with three themes: a political identity discussion group, a fairly mainstream ethnic ‘interest group’ and mutual support group, seeded with a tiny group of radicals, lacking only the courage to cross the line into terrorism. While that described MEChA, it also pretty much described every left-of-center campus political group, Jewish, Christian, feminist, gay, etc. etc. during the early 70’s. Whatever brush MEChA can be tarred with can equally apply to the entire range of the campus Left from about 1969 to 1978, the time with which I had contact with it. By ’78 it had become institutionalized, as we see it today, with the ASB budgets diverted to identity-politics-pork.
But in the early years, it definitely held an edge.
Anyone my age (50) ought to be able to look back on a campus littered with fervent leaflets talking about the imminent collapse of Western civilization as THE REVOLUTION arrives. I’m pretty sure that the undergraduate engineering group did some as well, I know the physics support group did.
I’m sure there were some nutball Aztlan fanatics among the early members of MEChA. I’m equally certain that for the most part it served as a benign support network for a bunch of poor Latino kinds, newly offered the opportunity of a U.C. education thanks to affirmative action, who have gone on to become realtors, dentists, Rotary members, and semi-corrupt state politicians.
So while I’m no fan of Cruz in many departments, this is certainly a weak attack to make, and I can personally attest to that.

8 thoughts on “Defending Cruz…For Once”

  1. AL–
    I’m a libertarian/economic righty white guy of your same age group.
    Personal experience comments such as yours (re being in MEChA in the 60s/70s) are invaluable in keeping the superheated rhetoric down to a dull roar.
    Thank you and God bless the Blogosphere.

  2. I’m no fan of Cruz and even I think this is a lame attack. I mean, really, who among us that are over 30 has not changed his/her politics somewhat since college or our late teens/early twenties?

  3. Cruz Bustamante is making his own problems on this issue. When asked about the slogan “For the race everything. For those outside the race, nothing.” CB refused to address it and instead talked about his election platform.
    This is a problem many politicians seem to have. If he would respond with something to the effect that he once supported it but now realizes that it’s wrong or that he supported the group but not the slogan then the issue would go away. Instead he’s going to avoid it and people will continue to ask about it because they think he’s hiding something.

  4. AL
    OK, fine, most of us have been associated with some craziness in our lives.
    But, see, if someone pointed out to me that I had been “associated” (whatever that means) with radicals, or nutjobs (and I have, in some measure, associated with such people), I would disavow their radical statements in a heartbeat. Hell, I disavow MY OWN statements in some cases, since my beliefs have evolved over time.
    But Bustamante isn’t doing that. And that bothers me. It sholudn’t be hard for him to say what krahl suggests.
    Think about all the Republicans who were (and are!) accused of “speaking in code” to appeal to white racists. Is Bustamante not, in failing to clearly separate himself from anti-anglo sentiment, just as guilty of “speaking in code”? And if he’s afraid to speak out clearly against racial separatism, what does that say about his base?
    We all did some foolish thing in our youth, and in many cases we did sensible things which might be distorted by political enemies to look foolish. But C.B. is an adult now, and if he wants to be governor, he needs to show a little bit of manly courage.

  5. Yes, we’ve all made mistakes and changed fashions and spouses and politics since our callow youth period. But just about all of us can furnish reasonable explanations why we made each of those decisions. The failure of Mr. Bustamante to disavow the nastier parts of the MEChaA principles, which still flourish on their websites all over the country, means he either supports them, or is putting off any decision about publicly announcing disavowal until he feels that it won’t hurt his chances for the votes of the identity politics bigots. At any rate, he’s not made any reasonable explanation to date of turning away from that racism.

  6. Any man under 30 not a Liberal has no heart and every man over 30 who is not a conservative has no brain?
    No one gives a crap… been there… done that… ex-peacenik beat up at PSU over Kent State myself…
    What drives us to distraction is the ‘pass’ BustaMEChA gets for this in spite of his obvious failure to address the issue.
    It’s called ‘MediaBias’.

  7. Hey, wait a minute. Being a fellow alum with Cruz himself at Fresno (well, about 10 years ahead of him, but the 60s and their political stupidities were already in full swing), I object to your sneer “I’m pretty sure that the undergraduate engineering group did some as well”. Not bloody so.
    While much of the campus did wallow in political hogwash about THE REVOLUTION and ‘relevance’ – meaning, if it aint lefty it should be suppressed – over in the engineering department and a few others, some of us were still pursuing an education, rather than an indoctrination. Please don’t presume to speak for us.

  8. Look, I was at SF State in the 60’s, where I heard the BSU “Kill all the white men!” crap for five semesters.
    I was at Cal State Northridge in the mid 70’s, where I heard the Aztlanists rant “Kill all the white men!” crap for three semesters.
    The only difference is that you had to listen in to hear the Chicanos spouting this crap. You had to attend meetings, listen to conversations in the cafeteria, challege them in class.
    Yes, they weren’t personally mean, the way the BSU’ers were. In fact, they didn’t understand why anyone would be offended at all. After a discussion about chopping off the heads of whites and nailing them to wooded racks, the way the Aztecs did, one said, “Like, we don’t mean you!”
    Sure.
    Cruz needs to own up and apologize.

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