McCain at NCLR--Bad, but Not Surprising
John McCain has taken a lot of flack from conservatives for his decision to make a speech at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a liberal Hispanic advocacy organization. They claim that it advocates open borders, and that it’s name, which can be translated as National Council of the Race, is divisive and racist. Those who make this charge go on to claim that the groups chant, “La raza unida nunca sera vencida,” should be translated as “A united [Hispanic] race will never be defeated,” which would seem to establish the organization as solidly xenophobic.
These charges are completely false. “La Raza” can also be translated as “the People,” which actually makes a lot more sense in context. “National Council of the Race” would only be appropriate if the group focused on discussing the Hispanic race, while “National Council of the People” works better for a Hispanic advocacy group, which this group is.
Of course, most people aren’t experts are translating Spanish words, so it’s easy to see how that mistake could be made. Unless, of course, the organization had a page on its website addressing that very issue. While finding that particular page may take time, it might be worth taking the five minutes required to find that information in order to avoid an embarrassing mistake. Whatever NCLR stands for (and it does stand for many anti-conservative principles), it is certainly not a racist or Hispanic separatist organization. Such assertions are dishonest.
Most of these McCain bashers go on to claim that the group supports open borders. Not exactly. In a FAQ about its immigration policy, the organization specifically states that “NCLR does not and has never advocated open borders. We believe that the U.S. is a sovereign country with the right to control its borders.” Granted, the organization does support some form of amnesty for current illegal immigrants, though its policies are actually less lenient to illegals than those of the Democrat Party. It believes that to “earn permanent status an immigrant would have to register with the government, undergo a criminal background check, maintain a clean record, pay all taxes, learn English, and pay a fine to the government.” This position, possesses many flaws (does anyone think that impoverished Mexican immigrants will be able to afford a fine?), but it does not exactly represent the hyper-liberal open-borders position that its critics claim it advocates.
However, the fact that NCLR is the subject of unfair criticism does not mean that all criticism of the group is unfair. It does reach out to illegal immigrants, supports a form of amnesty, opposes cooperation between state, local, and federal immigration officials, and support drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. (It’s not hard to find liberal positions held by the NCLR, so the fact that many conservatives resort to obvious lies about it is inexplicable). NCLR is undeniably a very liberal organization.
So should John McCain agree to speak there? NCLR clearly does not support the conservative agenda. Sadly, they also basically represent John McCain’s immigration position. His presence there is regrettable—but is in line with his stated position on the subject. Conservatives should resent his attendance (I certainly do)—but should not be surprised.
But McCain’s support of NCLR is not the apocalyptic event some conservative commenters claim it is. The groups has its flaws, but it is not racist, Hispanic separatist, or pro-open borders*. McCain is supporting a pro-amnesty organization—but it does not go any further than that. NCLR is not a radical group.
*And yes, I am aware that NCLR was against the 700 mile fence Bush signed into law. But that fence actually is useless—it isn’t long enough, doesn’t address the illegals already here, and isn’t getting any funding anyway. It really is nothing more than a political maneuver to throw a bone to the pro-enforcement people without actually bothering to do anything.