Tancredo Confuses Mottos, Logos, And Much, Much More

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As you probably already know, right wing, anti-immigration extremist Tom Tancredo went on CNN yesterday and accused Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor of being a member of a “Latino KKK” (known to people like John McCain as the perfectly uncontroversial National Council of La Raza).

What you might have missed was that Tancredo claimed NCLR’s motto (he actually called it a “logo”) says, “All for the race. Nothing for the rest.”

As it turns out, NCLR doesn’t even have a motto. According to Lisa Navarrete, the group’s vice president, the group has a mission statement–in English–which reads “to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.”The motto Tancredo‘s referring to seems to be a mistranslation of a slogan of sorts from the 1960s:”Por La Raza todo, fuera de La Raza nada,” meaning, literally, “for the race [or community], everything; outside the race, nothing.”

It’s a line that appears in a 60’s era manifesto called El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, which was influential to members of a separate group called MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán). Several decades ago, MEChA was a fairly radical student organization, whose mission was to return the lands of the southwest United States to Mexico–an idea called “reconquista.” Since then it has become, basically, the equivalent of a Mexican Students Association at most colleges across the country. ]

MEChA, as it happens, does have a motto: “La Unión Hace La Fuerza”, meaning, basically, “Unity Makes Strength.”

NCLR’s website is pretty clear about reconquista.

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.”

These are the sort of ambiguities that I suppose you miss, if you can’t tell the difference between a motto and a logo, or MEChA and NCLR, or, dare we say, people of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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