a Deserved Reputation
Post, Saturday, February 13, 1999, page A25
� Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
author of "Preserving the Ways of My Ancestors" [Free
For All, Feb. 6] presented an excellent synopsis of his group's
views. If his representation is accurate, the Council of
Conservative Citizens is exactly as it has been described in the
press: racist and paranoid (I think we can also add xenophobic).
In his defense of the legitimacy of the Council of Conservative
Citizens, Jared Taylor demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding
of the origins and mission of the National Council of La Raza.
After protesting others' characterization of himself and his organization
as having bigoted views, Taylor writes, "Why should whites
hand over the country to people unlike themselves? If millions
of whites were pouring across the border into Mexico ... and pushing
the ethnic demands of an organization called the National Council
of the Race (La Raza), could Mexicans be tricked into thinking
this was 'cultural enrichment'?"
and others have mistranslated our name to mean "the Race,"
implying that excludes others. In fact, the term has its
origins in early 20th century Latin American literature and most
closely translates into English as "the people" or,
according to some scholars, "the Hispanic people of the New
World." The term coined by the Mexican philosopher
Jose Vasconcelos, "la raza cosmica" (the "cosmic
people"), reflects the fact that the people of Latin America
are a mixture of many of the world's races, cultures and religions
-- Europeans, Africans and Native Americans; Muslims, Christians
and Jews; and those from both the Old World and the New
World. Moreover, Vasconcelos contended that Latinos provide
an example of a community in which traditional concepts of race
can be transcended.
National Council of La Raza's mission reflects this ideal.
Not only are we not even remotely "separatist" in nature
but we seek full inclusion of Latinos in the American mainstream.
Included in our board of directors and staff are members of virtually
every Latino subgroup, as well as significant numbers of non-Hispanics.
We help our community exercise the right to petition our
government, a right cherished by every American. In doing
so, we support the civil rights laws, which protect all Americans
from invidious discrimination. Together with our affiliates,
we provide English-language courses and citizenship programs to
thousands of Hispanics and many non-Hispanics each year.
And through our public-information efforts, we seek to promote
tolerance and understanding among all Americans. Ironically,
the persistence of the kind of fundamental misinformation contained
in Jared Taylor's article underscores, rather than undermines,
the continuing need for organizations like the National Council
of La Raza.
Navarrete, Deputy Vice President, National Council of La Raza