Streitz’s ‘ignorant’ claims misrepresent MEChA

Paul Streitz doesn’t seem to know much about MEChA, or immigrants, for that matter. That was clearly seen in his letter to the News yesterday (“Yale, a ‘third rate’ institution, promotes delusional stance on immigrant ‘take-over’” 12/5). My issue wasn’t with the fact that once again the News published an inflammatory editorial piece from someone who has nothing to do with the University — dialogue is great but ignorant attacks do not deserve attention. However, my problem lies in how uninformed Streitz is.

He has no grasp of sheer demographics and bases his argument on racial generalizations. He also clearly has no understanding of what any of the Spanish buzzwords he uses mean. Finally, he appears not to know anything about what El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) de Yale and National MEChA stand for.

Streitz claims that the “20 million illegally” in the country wave their Mexican flags and demand that Spanish be taught in American schools. This begs a number of questions: are we to assume that all immigrants in the nation, documented or not, are Mexicans? Or are all brown people Mexican immigrants? This would surely come as a surprise to all the European, African, Caribbean, Latin American and Asian immigrants. It’s important to note that MEChA isn’t a strictly-Chicano organization; we welcome everyone. Furthermore, it would have benefited Streitz to have taken those supposedly demanded Spanish classes in school, seeing as how he has no idea what Aztlán, La Raza, and Reconquista actually mean. An educated opinion is, after all, the best base for an editorial attack.

For example, the anti-European slogans that Streitz uses are not the views of MEChA or Mexicans at large. Streitz is actually quoting the Mexica Movement — a tiny activist group that seeks to “free” the indigenous peoples of the continent from apparently “illegal” Europeans. The Mexica Movement, in fact, repudiates MEChA, the concept of Aztlán and la Raza. They feel all of these are too Eurocentric. Does Streitz believe MEChA is in cahoots with the Mexica Movement, despite their basic ideological differences?

Streitz claims all illegal immigrants (they’re all Mexican) are “foot soldier[s]” for the Reconquista which is being promoted by the Mexican government. I guess I missed that press conference from Felipe Calderón.

What is the Reconquista anyways? It is the romanticized idea that the lands Mexico lost to the US at the end of the Mexican-American War through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo will one day be reclaimed. Sorry Streitz, but last time I was at a MEChA meeting, the farthest thing from our agenda was marching into the Southwest and flying a Mexican flag. This Reconquista rhetoric is nowadays used to strike fear into Americans that Mexicans are pouring over the border to reclaim the Southwest from the “gringo.” MEChistAs have better causes to worry about — like on-campus bigotry — than feeding that Reconquista delusion.

Using José Ángel Gutiérrez, one of the founders of the Raza Unida Party, Streitz tries to strike fear into white American hearts as he quotes how “we have got to eliminate the gringo … we have got to kill him.” Again, let me point out that Gutiérrez and the RUP are not directly connected to MEChA. Just because we’re brown, doesn’t mean we all share the same views. However, Streitz uses a quote from 1969 to make it seem like MEChistAs and Mexicans are out to kill white people. Sorry again, 38 years later and still no race war.

Streitz’s rhetoric about invading Reconquista armies, gringo-killing Mexicans and radical MEChistAs is hardly novel. Hopefully, critically-thinking Yalies can look past his generalizations. All these arguments and faulty assumptions bring me back to one point: What is MEChA de Yale about?

Our chapter was founded in 1969, with roots in Los Hermanos and the United Mexican-American Students group. MEChA’s purpose is to foster a Chicano community at Yale and in New Haven and to promote social, cultural, political and educational empowerment and awareness. Like El Plan de Santa Barbara, one of our founding documents, states, “MEChA is a means to an end.” Chicanos at Yale have come a long way from 1968 when our forefathers first showed up on the Old Campus. We are politically conscious students who understand the struggles Chicanos and all Latinos have had to deal with in this country. We are involved in immigrant rights, indigenous rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights and labor rights. We invite all interested Yalies to our MEChA 101 meeting at the beginning of next semester to learn more.

In conclusion, the goal of MEChA de Yale is not to have a Mexican flag flying over the Southwest, but to see Chicanos and Chicanas with Yale degrees.

Edgar Díaz-Machado is a junior in Pierson College. He is the Social Activities Chair for MEChA de Yale and the Este Aztlán representative for the National MEChA Coordinating Council.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Edgar for shedding light against the racist ignorance that flooded our newspaper yesterday.
    -Cassie Rodriguez
    SM '08

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the insight on MEChA and La Raza. It's nice to see intelligent people in higher education for a change.

  • Anonymous

    Paul Streitz thinks Harvard's MEChA is better than Yale's MEChA.

  • Anonymous

    Great editorial Edgar!
    - Funmi Showole

  • Anonymous

    I thank the author for shedding light into the distinction between MEChA (a legitimate but controversial organization) and the more extreme Mexica Movement. It is also worth pointing out that MEChA is not blameless and there have been quite a few occassions of MEChA members being implicated in criminal activities:

    (1) On May 11, 1993, Chicano students at UCLA caused damage to the Faculty Center estimated between $35,000 to $500,000 during a riot which ensued following the university administration's rejection of the creation of a Chicano Studies program.

    (2) In 2002, MEChA members were implicated in the theft of an entire press run of a particular issue of the UC Berkeley conservative newspaper California Patriot which was featuring an article that labelled MEChA a "neo-Nazi"-like organization.

    (3) On May 18, 2006 MEChA members claimed (in writing) to have destroyed the entire press run of the May 18, 2006, issue of the Pasadena City College newspaper.

    I do not mean to delegitimize the entire organization and I am sure that these incidents do not reflect all that MEChA is about. My guess is that different chapters probably have different methods. Still, it is important that people be aware of these extreme elements to know that Streiz presents a legitimate viewpoint (although obviously a viewpoint that one can disagree with).

  • Anonymous

    As a member of Mexica Movement, I have yet to see any concerted effort by Mecha chapters to do any real activism on a large scale (besides exchanging resumes and hosting dead-end conferences). The fact that Mexica Movement posters, slogans, and actions get noticed above and beyond Mecha is the proof in the pudding of Mecha's abject failure as an organization. Mecha could have been something genuinely progressive, but sadly, is now mainly a resume padding and dating service. As a former 90's member of Mecha in Sacramento, CA, I can attest to the ideological-actionable bankruptcy of Mecha. Its leadership is infested fresh rotations of cowards, posers, and opportunists spouting old slogans today, only to disappear into the horizon after graduation tomorrow, never to be seen again. Mexica Movement, by contrast, dares to say what many think, but are too cowardly to say. We are not still driving around on the vapors of outdated 60's cliches, we don't take European borders as our mandate (including the small potatoes thinking of "Aztlan"), and we puncture the lies behind false labels like "Raza", "Hispanic", and "Latino." No wimpy messages here. Wimps can have Mecha. Just ask Streitz which organization worries him more.
    - Manuel Alderete
    Mexica Movement
    Los Angeles, CA

  • Anonymous

    re: 12:28pm on December 6, 2007

    I don't see how those incidents legitimize Streiz's claims that Harvard is better than Yale or that immigrants or Mexicans are conspiring to take over the southwest.

  • Anonymous

    Great job Edgar; the neverending defense of MEChA from ignorance continues. ~ Omar Medina

  • Anonymous

    Earlier comments posted here from the likes of Josh and Irma demonstrate the offensive, collective brain-washing so prevalent amongst the college kiddies at Yale and Harvard. And Mr. Edgar Diaz-Machado is a fine example of another highly manipulative MENChA indoctrinator…He claims his organization is really most concerned with "like on-campus bigotry". Oh sure Mr. Diaz-Machado, And what are the beyond-campus priorities of your older brothers and sisters in MENChA?
    Mr. Paul Streitz may be referencing a couple of Harvard's exceptions to the collective speak-"All Immigration-GOOD" brain washed mantra but, I believe he would agree that Harvard too breeds NAU (North American Union) groupies. Most college students choosing classes and degrees in "Latin American Studies" and "Foreign Relations" are graduating as pre-qualified officers and chimps for the One World future. They are by virtue of their institutional credentials happy campers for NAU and of the CFR. Robert Pastor is their Big Daddy! These young adults now assuming positions of responsibilities which will shape this nation's future have grown up being purposefully and totally indoctrinated into this group-think lovefest for "Diversity/Multi-Culturaism", ad nauseam. Josh and Irma are pitiful examples of that. Their lack of original and independent thinking, along with their tired mantras and hyper-ventilated gasps of "racism" illustrate their dullness and their successful indoctrination, or perhaps merely their ignorance. CFR elitist are salivating. Robert Pastor's kool aid sipping, tripped out zombies are many. We need strong and honest voices to expose the greed and corruption driving these pompous Illegal Immigration promoters and NAU mongers. Thank goodness for the independent voices at Harvard and for Mr. Streitz's comments. Our
    sovereign Republic is on the chopping block! Meanwhile
    kowtowing Yalies fiddle with names and numbers, twiddle with sticks.

    Lil' Bama Lama

    P.S.Hope all of you MENChA doubters at Yale will take Mr. Edgar Diaz-Machado up on his little invitation for the "cookies and milk" MENChA meeting. Then you can meet his "feel good" MENChistA team players. Get on board the campus witch hunt for bigots! See if you can engage the quasi-hermanos and hermanas of MENCHA and LA RAZA in any sort of intelligent conversation about the social and monetary costs of their cultural "empowerment"? Why are they pushing "Hispanic" "Latino", or "Chicano/a" power? What's in it for them? Ask them about the many elite, and wealthy Mexican families in Mexico. The richest man in the world is a Mexican-Perhaps you LA RAZA and MENChA promoters should ask him to share his wealth, he's your hermano after all, si? Does he contribute to your organization? If so, how much? Why do people live in cardboard shacks in Mexico City? Why do Mexican drug lords control police and politicians all over Mexico? Is that the sort of Latino Culture you are hoping to bring to power in our United States? Why is the Mexican government so corrupt? Why don't you take your MENCHA pals and move your entire organization to Mexico and Central and South America and work on the governments in those countries. Please go to the MENChA meeting
    and ask a few of these questions…

  • Anonymous

    how are we supposed to take someone's opinion seriously if they can't even spell MEChA?
    MEChA's purpose isn't to intervene in foreign governments, read El Plan de Santa Barbara, MEChA's purpose is to support Chicanos in higher education.
    as for the on-campus bigotry, are you even a member of the Yale community to write it off?
    educate your thinking.

  • Anonymous

    Streitz clearly does not know what he's talking about, but that does not mean that there are not real controversies concerning MEChA.

    A Question for Mr. Diaz-Machado.

    You mention El Plan De Santa Barbara as one of your founding documents. This is a fact to which all knowledgeable individuals would stipulate..

    What is your chapter's view on El Plan De Aztlan, which it is my understanding MEChA considers among the group's founding documents, an affiliated precursor document, or otherwise canonical. Similarly, what is your chapter's view on the apparently-canonical (or at least widely-accepted) "Philosophy of MEChA" document that is prevalent on MEChA Chapter web sites as well as the apparent national site, which reaffirms the role of El Plan De Aztlan.

    If this is not the case, does MEChA at Yale have an opinion about the contents of El Plan De Aztlan?

  • Anonymous

    re: 12:28pm on December 6, 2007

    Um, did you really cite two events, only one of which had any extreme content, as your 'proof' that Streitz's artilce was valid. If damage to public property plus stealing some newspapers is tantamount to being an extremist group than i guess there are thousands of Frats and Sororities that we should keep a watchful eye on in case they try to overrun America.

  • Anonymous

    I think one of the problems for Mecha is the historic radical rhetoric that seems to continue today in its organizing documents. When someone says they are against racism but for their race first it seems like a contradiction. I understand the need to rally around ones ethic identify for betterment as well as a desire to not give up ones culture and heritage. The organizing documents would be better if they indicated that not all people outside la Raza are against la Raza. I like hispanic/mexican/lantino/chicano culture very much but the strident language of your documents that cite rights to land imply that I cannot not part of the Plan or La Causa because I am not chicano. This makes me dislike your organization and feel threatened by it. Groups have to be cautious that intense love for ones identity and ethnic group or way of life does not become or appear to be hate or dislike for others.

    Here are a few examples from your national website….

    http://www.nationalmecha.org/philosophy.html

    Finally, as Mechistas, we vow to work for the liberation of Aztlán, leading to socioeconomic and political justice for our Gente. M.E.Ch.A. then, is more than a name; it is a spirit of unity by comadrismo/carnalismo, and a resolution to undertake a struggle for liberation! Tierra y Libertad!

    As Chicanas and Chicanos of Aztlán, we are a nationalist movement of Indigenous Gente that lay claim to the land that is ours by birthright. As a nationalist movement we seek to free our people from the exploitation of an oppressive society that occupies our land. Thus, the principle of nationalism serves to preserve the cultural traditions of La Familia de La Raza and promotes our identity as a Chicana/Chicano Gente.