48 hours after announcing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor "appears to be racist," Republican Tom Tancredo today blasted her association with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), deeming the organization "a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses." As it turns out, of course, the GOP itself has a long tradition of reaching out to La Raza, including appearances at the group's events by George W. Bush, Karl Rove and John McCain.
In an apparent effort to top Newt Gingrich's slanders Wednesday, Tancredo on CNN launched a blistering assault on Sotomayor's membership in a group whose slogan reads "strengthening America by promoting the advancement of Latino families." In Tancredo's latest xenophobic fantasy, La Raza is a hotbed of secession and racist sentiment:
"If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino -- it's a counterpart -- a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses. If you belong to something like that in a way that's going to convince me and a lot of other people that it's got nothing to do with race. Even though the logo of La Raza is "All for the race. Nothing for the rest." What does that tell you?"
Of course, Tancredo's slurs are not merely untrue; they would be news to a Republican Party that has long courted La Raza to support its candidates and nominees.
Just ask George W. Bush.
On July 6, 2000, then candidate Bush appeared before 1000 people at the group's annual meeting:
''It doesn't matter what party you're from,'' he said, as he stood before more than 1,000 people at the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza...
''I like to be seen in neighborhoods where sometimes Republicans aren't seen,'' the governor said. ''I like to fight that stereotype that sometimes we don't have the corazon necessary to hear the voices of people from all political parties and all walks of life''...
As he has done in previous appearances, Mr. Bush introduced his nephew George P. Bush, the oldest son of his brother Jeb and Jeb's wife, Columba, and noted that Columba's Mexican ancestry made his nephew half-Hispanic. He told the members of La Raza how proud he was to have Hispanic blood in his family.
For his part, President Bush enjoyed a reasonable relationship with the group. Contrary to many reports, La Raza did not take a position on his nomination of the controversial Miguel Estrada to the bench. (Estrada's nomination was eventually withdrawn after encountering united opposition from senate democrats. Today, he is distinguished by his service as the attorney for Bush torture architect John Yoo.) And in 2004, La Raza applauded Bush's choice of Alberto Gonzales as his new Attorney General.
Recognizing the growing importance of the nation's 43 million Hispanic voters to the Republican Party, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was among the featured speakers at La Raza's 2006 annual meeting. And two years after Bush's Brain appeared before the group, John McCain pitched La Raza during the 2008 campaign.
Needless to say, McCain was ridiculed then by the immigrant-bashing, race-baiting legions on the right, much as Judge Sotomayor is being slandered by Tom Tancredo. (McCain was also the only Republican willing to attend the 2007 GOP candidates debate sponsored by Univision.)
Of course, the results of the incendiary rhetoric have been catastrophic for the Republicans. While John Kerry earned only 53% of the Hispanic votein 2004, by the 2006 mid-terms the Democratic share reached 69%. Last November, Barack Obama swamped McCain by 2-1 among the same voters. And with the exodus of Hispanics from the GOP almost certain to continue as the smearing of Sonia Sotomayor accelerates, all that the likes of Tom Tancredo will have left is their hate.
** Crossposted at Perrspectives **
UPDATE: The NCLR responds.