Hecklers Highlight Silence of Major Latino Organizations Around War

June 30, 2008

I was in Washington cafe yesterday when hecklers from Code Pink interrupted Sen. John McCain no less than 3 times during a major speech to Latino voters and elected officials. Shortly after the event, several of protesters marched triumphantly into the coffeeshop I was sitting in on P Street after they stole the media thunder of the event organizers, the Nation Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO). NALEO was trying to highlight Latino voting power and unprecedented participation in this year’s elections.

Despite NALEO’s attempts to let the media know that it was the white women and not members of their organization, many of the mainstream media basically reported as if Latinos had dissed the GOP candidate. While many, if not most, of us do, in fact, find McCain and other warmongers more than worthy of attack for their seemingly infinite ability and desire to send other, mostly poor people’s children to kill and die in war, we should prioritize accuracy and fairness.

Yet, while I find Code White…..I mean Code Pink as problematic as other “progressive” organizations when it comes to issues of race and inclusion, I must say that watching and listening to the middle class white women-and not the working and middle class Latinos in the audience-yell in garbled Spanish, “Ya basta con la matanza” (Stop the Killing) as they denounced the war and its supporters inspired a rather odd mix of bother and shame; It reminded me of something I’ve been wanting to talk about for some time: How NONE of the national Latino organizations in the U.S. have come out against the war. NONE.

Though I have longtime friends and colleagues at most of them, it saddens me to report that, to date, none of the major Latino organizations-NALEO, LULAC, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), MALDEF, Southwest Voter Registration (leaders of SVREP have, however, taken positions) have come out against the Iraq war.

Such silence raises questions not unlike those raised around the trials and tribulations of disgraced former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. As stated here previously, leaders of organizations like LULAC and NCLR not only didn’t denounce Gonzales, they were important players in the campaign to get him appointed the country’s first Latino Attorney General-even after revelations of Gonzales’ leadership in legalizing the torture like that perpetrated in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo came out. In an indicator of the nuance and differentiation that exists in the Latino political universe, Southwest and MALDEF came out against Gonzales.

And , in addition to enabling someone who, in a more just and fair world, would be locked up for life as a war criminal, some of these Latino organizations are also taking money from and providing a platform to the most violent and wasteful institution in the United States: the Pentagon. As I’ve reported here , the Pentagon is spending BILLIONS to save itself by recruiting unprecedented numbers of young Latinos for the cause of war and plunder. Money to improve decrepit schools that are supposed to prepare our kids for life, schools that are pushing our kids out, is instead being used to bolster the institution that will prepare them for death-and no Latino organization of any stature is saying anything about it. In their efforts to survive, huge numbers of Latino media outlets have allowed themselves to become mouthpieces of the Armed Forces by accepting hundreds of millions of dollars to print, beam and broadcast Pentagon ads targeting Latinos (ie Army of One, Yo Soy El Army, etc.)

We should not, however, paint all Latinos or all Latino organizations with the same brush of silence about war. MANY, many individuals like Camilo Mejia and many organizations like Project YANO and others are fighting the good fight against the Pentagon in its war for the hearts and minds of our kids.

So, when you see and listen to the silence in the audience in the video below, please remember that is the silence of the few, as polls have, for some time, indicated that the vast majority of Latinos opposes the war madness perpetrated by the likes of John McCain.

11 Responses to “Hecklers Highlight Silence of Major Latino Organizations Around War”

  1. bfp Says:

    Speak it. Speak it loud. Thank you so much for this–SO true and SO irritating.

  2. John Doe Says:

    Thank you for sharing this, I was at the event and was bother by the reaction of the audience they booed the protesters as if their message was wrong. I know some will will come out in NALEO’s defense and say that it was not the time or place but please someone tell when is the correct time and place?

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  7. Dr. Andres Anglade Says:

    Accusing McCain of having “the ability to send others to war” shows how little the writer knows about Sen. McCain. Not only was he a prisoner of war during Vietnam, but one of his sons is serving in Iraq and the other is graduating from the Naval Academy and probably will be heading in that direction. How about Obama’s flip-flop on Iraq? Now he sounds the same as President Bush on the war. No soldier wants war but like it or not, the reality is that we are in Iraq and cannot leave TODAY! Until we change our one person a car and large SUV mentalities we have to be invloved in the Middle East and our troops will have to be ready for anything in that area to protect the safe passage of the oil resources of the area. That is the reality that even Obama, after talking so much is realizing now, but of course if you have a total anti-Bush or anti-Republican mentality, reality is beyond you. As an Independent voter i want a President that knows what is at stake and doesn’t change his mind constantly, and at this moment that candidate is not Sen. Obama

  8. NO2MCSAME Says:

    Dr. Andres Anglade,

    Based on your name, I am assuming you are NOT of Anglo-Saxxon decent? Oh, you may prentend to be or maybe have even assimilated yourself into a Republican Driven Philosophy that ONLY values the color white & green, but I assure you, you are are going to get a serious wake-up call, some day you will (all things come around – karma, baby). Likely, you have never served in the military either, so PLEASE don’t you EVER speak about War, when you don’t know what it is like to have to leave your children and familiy (which I have). Bush & McCain are WAR MONGERS & twisted/greedy opportunists! Someday you might even have to get off your high stool and go fight for your OWN freedom & not have minorities like me available or willing to do it for you.

  9. Dr. Andres Anglade Says:

    My friend I happen to be a COL. US Army ret. Unlike you, I was called and then volunteered to serve the best country in the World. Unlike you I have lived where you have to look under your car for bombs (placed by the way by EXTREMIST MUSLIMS), lived under a 10PM curfew and my children went to school in buses guarded by armed soldiers. And yes I am a minority and proud of it.

    Like now with Joe The Plumber , the only resource of people without FACTS is to kill the messenger, and avoid the message.

    Yes like Obama and his followers you don’t care that while Sen. McCain wa a prisoner in Vietnam, Obama’s buddies Ayers and Dorhn were plotting to put bombs in our Capitol, our White Hpuse, our Pentagon and in Police HQ in NY.

    And I am expected to vote for Obama!


  10. robvato Says:

    Dr. Anglade, but with all due respect, you neither know me nor my experience . And you sound like a Cold Warrior still reeling from the Vietnam syndrome, in other words, something of a loser shooting a rusty gun in the dark. But thanks for visiting.

  11. Dr. Anglade Says:

    When people cannot discuss the facts they resort to personal attacks. It shows who they are! No need to know you, with your reponse you said it all!

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