Wednesday, September 24, 2008

C. de Baca should resign

marjorie says...

I've largely not weighed in about the comments of Bernalillo County Republican Party Chairman Fernando C. de Baca because they just seemed so over the top. Better to just let my reporting buddies ferret it all out, which they did--go to the blogs of Heath Haussamen and Peter St. Cyr for all the ins and outs.
Jeez. What a mess. Let me just say right up front: C. de Baca should resign.
For those of you not up on this, a BBC reporter roaming through town last week quoted C. de Baca saying this:
The truth is that Hispanics came here as conquerors," he said. "African-Americans came here as slaves. Hispanics consider themselves above blacks. They won't vote for a black president.

C. de Baca, who is 70 years old, claimed to local radio reporter and blogger Peter St. Cyr that the quote was taken out of context, that he was describing the sentiments of his grandfather’s generation. Here's what he told St. Cyr about those specific words, with my highlighting:

In the course of talking to him [BBC Reporter Jon Kelly], I explained that some of the older generation people, like my grandfather, would always tells us as youngsters that Hispanics came here, I guess it was their way of having us, lifting our spirits, and they would say remember your ancestors came here as conquerors. And those were his [grandfather’s] words. And then they would draw the comparison of the other groups, the Native Americans and so on.

My interpretation: his grandfather taught him that he was descended from conquerors--in the face of the discrimination C. de Baca himself faced in school--and contrasted that heritage with other groups to make the point that C. de Baca should be proud.
The fact that groups would pit themselves against those who should be their natural allies in the face of white capitalist oppression is well documented in our history books. It’s certainly a factor in Anglo history—a white working class coming home just as grubby and tired as the rest of the workers, but still a cut above in their own minds from their fellow workers of color. There’s a reason that anti-racist organizing has a solid place in labor history.
So, this story doesn’t surprise me or, in and of itself, cause me to reflect poorly on C. de Baca.
But what matters is what happens today…in 2008.

C. de Baca has had time to grow with the rest of us in this regard. But when an actual taped interview with another BBC reporter surfaced, it becomes very clear that dismay and upset over C. de Baca’s comments are well-founded. Here's what he said on tape--again, the highlights are mine:

I feel strongly that Hispanics will not support, in my generation and the generation around my age, are not going to support the Democratic candidate for president primarily because there is a strong feeling that African Americans during the civil rights movement took advantage, full advantage, of all the benefits and programs that the government offered, that were supposed to be offered to all minorities. But we were left behind, we were left sucking air, and we resented that ever since the 60s, and I don’t see how a black president is going to change that.

C. de Baca has been explaining his comments to anyone who will listen, and would like for us to all understand that he was speaking about OTHER Hispanics, rather than himself. He says he was just explaining the reality that Hispanics in an older generation aren't going to vote for a man who is black.

I could get this explanation had his comments not sounded so First Person and so Matter of Fact.

Or, if he had discussed it in a vein that also included the progress that has been made toward eradicating racism against blacks among his generation of Hispanics. Because we all know there are plenty of Hispanics over 50 who ARE going to vote for Obama.

But despite the fact that all the big-wig Republicans in the state, including Bernalillo County's own Darren White, who is running for Congress, have condemned the comments and called for C. de Baca's resignation, the Bernalillo County Republicans aren't having it.

Local attorney and executive board member of the Bernco Republicans Doug Antoon was interviewed by St. Cyr about their decision to not give C. de Baca the boot. The audio is hard to hear (for me) but Heath Haussamen has given a good synopsis.
They think C. de Baca is being "victimized for something that ran totally contrary to what everyone knows Mr. C. de Baca represents.”

Not to mention, Antoon said, the BBC is a bunch of Liberals:

Antoon accused BBC News of being “a rather very liberal international broadcasting company.” He said the organization was taking C. de Baca’s comment -- that Hispanics won’t vote for a black president because, as conquerors, they consider themselves above blacks, who came to America as slaves -- out of context because of its political agenda.

Well, you know, “everyone” doesn’t know what C. de Baca represents, and his comments weren’t to his friends or even acquaintances. He spoke candidly to the BBC (which is hardly "liberal"), not once but twice, in a way that suggested he was speaking on behalf of his generation, as well as himself.
The problem this country has with racism transcends party politics.
I think it’s a reasonable interpretation though, given his position, that C. de Baca’s was playing politics when he made his remarks.
Another interpretation is that he’s highly un-reflective and not concerned about doing his part to eradicate racism, hence rather blunt comments about his and his generations attitudes with no companion description of the progress that has been made—because we all know that a lot of Hispanics over 50 are going to vote for Obama (hello!).

Either way, his position requires that he be held to a higher bar...African American's, whose ancestors Did Not come here as slaves (as a friend pointed out) but were instead forcibly brought here, deserve better. As do the rest of us.

(…Antoon…hmmm...where have I heard that name before? Wait…I do believe he’s an alligator! He’s the one "paying close attention" to the issue of non-profits exercising their right to free speech, according to Monahan on 9/16. Ha! Interesting to reflect on what gets a rise out of him, and what doesn’t.)