Right-wing media are demonizing the National Council of La Raza in order to object to President Obama's recent appointment of Cecilia Muñoz as director of the Domestic Policy Council, accusing the organization of being an "amnesty" group with "racist" ties. These attacks are not new: Conservatives have long described the civil rights group as "the Ku Klux Klan Of The Hispanic People."
Obama Appointed Former NCLR Exec Muñoz To Head Policy Council
Muñoz Previously Served As NCLR Senior Vice President. On January 10, Obama named Muñoz as the new director of the Domestic Policy Council:
Cecilia Muñoz currently serves as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs where she oversees the Obama Administration's relationships with state and local governments. As Director of Intergovernmental Affairs under Valerie Jarrett, Ms. Muñoz leads a partnership between federal, state, local, and tribal governments that Governing magazine described as "more prominent and responsive than it ever was," citing praise from local and state elected officials from across the political spectrum. Under Muñoz's leadership, this partnership has brought the voices of local elected officials and the people they represent into the White House in the development and execution of policies to address local challenges in the economy, health care, disaster relief, and transportation infrastructure among others.
Ms. Muñoz also leads the Administration's efforts to fix the broken immigration system so that it meets America's 21st century economic and security needs. In addition, she serves as Co-Chair of the President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status, which has worked to not only continue to address the question of the island's political status, but also partnered with local officials to address immediate concerns over jobs and the economy, health care, education, the environment, energy, and infrastructure.
Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Muñoz served as Senior Vice President for the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation's largest Latino civil rights organization. She supervised NCLR's policy staff covering a variety of issues of importance to Latinos, including civil rights, employment, poverty, farmworker issues, education, health, housing, and immigration. Her particular area of expertise is immigration policy, which she covered at NCLR for twenty years. [Office of the White House Press Secretary, 1/10/12]
Right-Wing Media In Turn Slam NCLR As An "Open-Border And Amnesty Group"
Michelle Malkin: NCLR Is A "Radical Identity Politics-Driven Group." From her syndicated column:
Before joining Team Obama, Munoz spent two decades as chief registered lobbyist for the National Council of La Raza ("The Race"). Whose "middle class" does The Race represent? I've tracked the radical identity politics-driven group for years as it promoted drivers' licenses and in-state college tuition breaks for illegal aliens; opposed cooperative immigration enforcement efforts between local, state and federal authorities; and opposed a secure fence along the southern border.
Under Munoz, The Race advised the Mexican government on how to lobby for illegal alien amnesty in the United States. Mexico's Institute for Mexicans Residing Abroad rewarded her with its Ohtli Prize for her service to the country. Their country, not ours.
Who has benefited from Munoz's Beltway lobbying? No, not the American middle class. The biggest beneficiary has been La Raza's coffers. According to analysts at nonpartisan Judicial Watch in Washington, The Race raked in $4.1 million in federal subsidies in 2009 and more than $11 million in 2010. Much of that money came straight from the Obama stimulus boondoggle, and much of it went to mortgage counseling. [Creators Syndicate, 1/13/11, via MichelleMalkin.com]
Dobbs Blasted NCLR As An "Open-Border And Amnesty Group That Has Pushed Illegal Immigrants To Brazenly Defy U.S. Law." Reporting on the appointment of Muñoz, Fox's Lou Dobbs stated:
DOBBS: The president is in full campaign mode now. President Obama, this week, pandering to a key voting block, appointing a former amnesty lobbyist to head up his domestic policy council, Cecilia Munoz -- former executive vice president of La Raza, a open-border and amnesty group that has pushed illegal immigrants to brazenly defy U.S. law while demanding concessions from the federal government. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 1/11/12]
Drudge Report: "Obama Picks Amnesty Lobbyist For WH Policy Director." The Drudge Report highlighted Muñoz's appointment by accusing her of being an "amnesty lobbyist":
[Drudge Report, 1/10/11]
WND Attacked NCLR As "An Open-Borders Group That Lobbies For Mass Immigration And Amnesty For Illegal Aliens." In an article for the WorldNetDaily.com website, reporter Aaron Klein invoked progressive billionaire financier George Soros, "radical organizer" Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers, and the Tides Center to attack Muñoz and criticized her ties to "ACORN, MoveOn.org and other radical groups." Klein went on to accuse NCLR of being "an open-borders group that lobbies for mass immigration and amnesty for illegal aliens." [WorldNetDaily.com, 1/10/12]
Fox Promoted WND Attack On Muñoz, NCLR. The Fox Nation website highlighted and linked to Klein's article using the headline: "Obama's New Czar Tied to Occupy, ACORN, MoveOn":
[Fox Nation, 1/11/12]
IBD: Obama Chose "An Open-Borders Advocate And Former Leader Of The Hispanic Activist Group Favoring Amnesty." In an editorial headlined "Obama Plays La Raza Card In Key Appointment," Investor's Business Daily blasted Obama for "choosing to head his policy council with an open-borders advocate and former leader of the Hispanic activist group favoring amnesty." IBD continued:
The NCLR, whose name translates as "the race," is a tax-exempt nonprofit that describes itself as "the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States." It most recently led in vocal opposition against Arizona SB 1070, a law attacked by Attorney General Eric Holder as a discriminatory incarnation of profiling that usurped federal authority over immigration policy.
When then-candidate Obama spoke to the NCLR national convention in 2008, he told the group what it wanted to hear -- that Latino "communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids." He also condemned those "communities taking immigration enforcement into their own hands," such as those that have passed state laws or local ordinances to check that those who are here are in fact here legally.
At this year's La Raza convention, Obama touted the federal Dream (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, a thinly disguised amnesty program that is part of "comprehensive immigration reform" designed to pit those who have successfully eluded the border patrol on a path to citizenship. [Investor's Business Daily, 1/11/12]
In Fact, NCLR's Mission Is "To Improve Opportunities For Hispanic Americans"
NCLR: "Our Mission Is To Create Opportunities And Open The Door To The American Dream For Latino And Other Families." On its website, NCLR emphasizes that its "mission is to create opportunities and open the door to the American Dream for Latino and other families":
Those familiar with the work of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) know that we are the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., and that we are an American institution committed to strengthening this great nation by promoting the advancement of Latino families. Our mission is to create opportunities and open the door to the American Dream for Latino and other families.
We proudly represent nearly 300 Affiliates -- community-based organizations providing a range of essential services to millions of Latinos and others in need. Since 1997, NCLR and its Affiliates have helped more than 22,000 low-income Hispanic families purchase their first homes. In addition, NCLR's network of 115 charter schools provides quality education to more than 25,000 Latino children every year. The health clinics we helped build and the lay health educators we trained provided care and information about prevention and detection of serious illnesses to nearly 100,000 people in 2006. Our Affiliates are working every day to help Hispanic immigrants integrate fully into American society by providing English-language classes, civics courses, and naturalization assistance. [National Council Of La Raza, accessed 1/12/12]
NCLR: Our "Work As A Civil Rights Institution Is About Inclusion And Participation In The American Dream." Responding to critics that argue NCLR supports a " 'Reconquista,' or the right of Mexico to reclaim land in the southwestern United States," the organization wrote that "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.' " It further stated:
Similarly, NCLR's critics falsely claim that the statement "Por La Raza todo, Fuera de La Raza nada," ["For the community everything, outside the community nothing"] is NCLR's motto. NCLR unequivocally rejects this statement, which is not and has never been the motto of any Latino organization.
NCLR's work as a civil rights institution is about inclusion and participation in the American Dream, including extensive efforts to assist new immigrants in the process of fully integrating into American life. In fact, NCLR and its Affiliates work everyday to provide English classes, support naturalization efforts, and offer other services that help integrate immigrants fully into American society.
Many of these critics claim that NCLR supports dividing up sections or regions of this country by race or ethnic heritage. In particular, this claim was made by one outspoken critic of NCLR, the late Representative Charlie Norwood (R-GA). As the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization, NCLR has a long, proud, well-documented history of opposing segregation based on race or ethnicity. [National Council Of La Raza, accessed 1/12/12]
NCLR: "Translating Our Name As 'The Race' Is Not Only Inaccurate, It Is Factually Incorrect." From NCLR's website:
Many people incorrectly translate our name, "La Raza," as "the race." While it is true that one meaning of "raza" in Spanish is indeed "race," in Spanish, as in English and any other language, words can and do have multiple meanings. As noted in several online dictionaries, "La Raza" means "the people" or "the community." Translating our name as "the race" is not only inaccurate, it is factually incorrect. "Hispanic" is an ethnicity, not a race. As anyone who has ever met a Dominican American, Mexican American, or Spanish American can attest, Hispanics can be and are members of any and all races.
The term "La Raza" has its origins in early 20th century Latin American literature and translates into English most closely as "the people" or, according to some scholars, as "the Hispanic people of the New World." The term was coined by Mexican scholar José Vasconcelos to reflect the fact that the people of Latin America are a mixture of many of the world's races, cultures, and religions. Mistranslating "La Raza" to mean "the race" implies that it is a term meant to exclude others. In fact, the full term coined by Vasconcelos, "La Raza Cósmica," meaning the "cosmic people," was developed to reflect not purity but the mixture inherent in the Hispanic people. This is an inclusive concept, meaning that Hispanics share with all other peoples of the world a common heritage and destiny. [National Council Of La Raza, accessed 1/12/12]
Political Strategist Robert Creamer: NCLR Is "One Of The Nation's Most Respected Latino Organizations." In a Huffington Post op-ed, political strategist Robert Creamer, who "knew Cecilia for many years before her work in the White House," lauded the White House for the appointment:
Her appointment is great government -- and great politics.
Munoz, who has served since the beginning of the Administration as the Director of Intergovernmental Relations, has always been the key point person in the White House on immigration reform. Before joining the White House team, she served as a leader at one of the nation's most respected Latino organizations -- The National Council of La Raza. By tapping her as his top domestic policy adviser, President Obama assures that immigration reform will be at the center of the domestic policy agenda. [Huffington Post, 1/10/12]
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow: NCLR Is Not The "Latino KKK." In May 2009, former Rep. Tom Tancredo accused NCLR of being a "Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses." Responding to Tancredo's claim, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow noted that "the mission of the National Council of La Raza is 'strengthening America by promoting the advancement of Latino families.' " She added: "It's also the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States." [MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/29/09]
Right-Wing Have Long Demonized NCLR In Attacks On Latinos
Dobbs Blasted NCLR As An "Ethno-Centric" Group That Looks "With Disdain At The American People." On a September 2009 edition of his radio show, Lou Dobbs contended that the federal government hasn't been enforcing immigration laws in part because of groups "on the left" like NCLR and "all the other ethno-centric organizations," who "have just been looking with disdain at the American people." He added: "That's the real issue." [United Stations Radio Network, The Lou Dobbs Show, 9/18/09]
- A month later, Dobbs did an about-face and referred to NCLR as an "honest, reputable, [and] legitimate" organization. [United Stations Radio Network, The Lou Dobbs Show, 10/22/09]
Michael Savage: NCLR "Represents The Most Violent Elements Of The Hispanic Supremacist Movement." In a wide-ranging attack on NCLR reviving bogus "Reconquista" claims, radio host Michael Savage stated:
SAVAGE: Would you go back to your country of origin 'cause the Mexicans want Los Angeles, San Diego, Arizona, and New Mexico? And a half of Chicago? What if you went along with La Raza, which is a front group for the retaking of the Southwest. La Raza is a foreign entity as far as I am concerned. La Raza represents -- and they're in the White House by the way. La Raza represents the most violent elements of the Hispanic supremacist movement -- only they're the diplomats of the Hispanic supremacist movement. They put a nice face on it the same way that this peace flotilla did.
So La Raza gets into the White House under this enemy of the American way Obama, and La Raza now is trying to not only erase the border but erase your reality of the drugs, the weapons, the crime that are coming over the border. [Talk Radio Network, The Savage Nation, 6/4/10]
Savage: Latino Advocacy Group Is "The Ku Klux Klan Of The Hispanic People." On his radio program, Savage labeled NCLR as "the Ku Klux Klan of the Hispanic people," adding that NCLR "is the most stone racist group I've ever seen in this country." Savage later noted, however, "It's true they haven't hung anybody." [Talk Radio Network, The Savage Nation, 5/17/07]
Beck Called NCLR A "Nasty, Take America And Give It To The Mexicans" Group. On his radio show, Beck listed NCLR as part of the "nasty, take America and give it to the Mexicans groups." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 9/30/10]
Beck Suggested NCLR Is Similar To "Bloodthirsty," "Notoriously Violent Drug Gang" MS-13. On his former Fox News show, Glenn Beck sought to quell criticism of the tea party as racist by pointing to NCLR. He said of the organization: "La Raza -- I mean, you want to talk about a racist statement. If I called an organization, 'The Race,' -- wow. That's -- anyway." He then went on to equate NCLR with MS-13, which he explained was a "bloodthirsty," "notoriously violent drug gang." He also compared the group with "neo-Nazis" and claimed it's "a danger to society." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 4/19/10, 4/19/10]
WND's Farah Called NCLR "A Racist Hate Group," Compared Group To KKK And Neo-Nazis. From a May 30, 2009 column by WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah, headlined "A racist for the Supreme Court":
[Sonia] Sotomayor is a member of the National Council of La Raza. What is La Raza?
It bills itself as a "civil rights" organization. It would be more appropriate to say it disguises itself as such. It camouflages itself as such. It hides its real purpose and true intents as such - with the willing and skillful assistance of many of my media colleagues.
In reality, La Raza is a racist hate group - a band of "Hispanic supremacists," if you will, though it is seldom characterized that way.
It is no more a civil rights group than the Ku Klux Klan is a group promoting the civil rights of white people. It is no more a civil rights group than the neo-Nazi scum who marched a generation ago at Skokie, Ill., with the legal protection of the American Civil Liberties Union, another misnamed organization. It is no more a civil rights group than the Aryan skinheads who victimize Jews and others they detest in trying to lift themselves up from the gutter.
La Raza is part of the movement in this country to destroy it from within by dividing and "reconquering."
Its members and leadership are linked directly to those who believe the Southwestern U.S. was unjustly seized from Mexico in the 19th century. It should, they believe, by any means necessary, be reconstituted either as part of that thoroughly corrupt, socialist regime fled by tens of millions of refugees or as an independent, autonomous, Spanish-speaking socialist state - like the mythical land of Aztlan.
The only real differences between La Raza and the neo-Nazis and the KKK are its wealth, power and level of sophistication. [WorldNetDaily.com, 5/30/09]
Sean Hannity Falsely Claimed NCLR "Has Called For Mexico To Annex Southwestern States." On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that NCLR "has called for Mexico to annex southwestern states." [Fox News, Hannity's America, 2/26/09]
- Following Hannity's false claim, NCLR president Janet Murguía blasted Hannity in a letter to Fox Executive Vice President John Moody demanding "an immediate on-air correction." Murguía stated: "NCLR has never made the statement and does not support the views Mr. Hannity attributes to us, as even a cursory review of our public statements or website would substantiate. Such conspiracy theories would be silly if they were not so often used to create fear and distrust of all Hispanics living in America. While Mr. Hannity is well within his rights to disagree with the views of our organization, he is not entitled to lie about us." [Media Matters, 2/27/09]
Shapiro Wrote Entire Column Filled With False, Misleading Attacks On NCLR. Syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro called NCLR "a radical and in some cases quasi-criminal group" and falsely smeared former NCLR board member Mari Del Carmen Aponte as "an alleged former spy for Fidel Castro." He also falsely claimed that a statement urging Hispanics to "[reclaim] the land of their birth" was a "founding document" of NCLR; baselessly asserted that a proposed federal education funding increase was part of an effort "to funnel money quickly and furiously into NCLR coffers"; and ignored evidence contradicting claims of a "kickback scheme" involving an NCLR affiliate. [Creators Syndicate, 12/16/09, via Media Matters]
Fox's Gibson Suspicious That Latino Advocacy Groups Are Set On "Retaking Old Mexico Territories ... By Pure Birth Rate." While saying that he was citing an internal NCLR email, John Gibson claimed on his Fox News show that he was suspicious that advocacy groups like NCLR favor "the so-called reconquista," which Gibson described as the "retaking of old Mexico territories, which are now part of the United States, by pure birth rate." Gibson also asserted that NCLR "is a group dedicated to the betterment of the race," adding, "good, but try being American while you are at it, guys." [Fox News, The Big Story with John Gibson, 4/3/06]