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.