A couple of days ago, a coalition of groups (including Daily Kos) signed on to a letter penned by Rep. Raul Grijalva criticizing HUD Secretary Julian Castro for doing little to help underwater homeowners save their homes. Today, we find out that old-world Latino organizations have targeted another Latino group—Presente.org—for also signing on.
Two sources said the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 40 Latino groups, plans to kick out Presente for the attacks on Castro. The argument for doing so is that one of NHLA’s stated purposes is to promote federal Hispanic appointments and the group is seen as subverting that agenda [...]
“This isn’t the first time they’ve played rough in the sandbox,” said Brent Wilkes, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) executive director. He noted that Presente has attacked [Obama adviser] Cecilia Muñoz, National Council of La Raza, and his group. “If you’re a Latino organization, you should go after hate mongers and anti-immigrant groups, not fellow Latino advocates.
Interesting that the NHLA hadn’t kicked out Presente for its attacks on Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, so perhaps they’re not just about more Latinos in federal positions? Maybe they’re supposed to be focused on policies that help their communities, and criticize those who fail them?
Part of the tension, unsurprisingly, is wrapped around presidential primary politics, since Presente is seen as friendly to Bernie Sanders (it’s previous executive director now works for the Sanders campaign), and Castro is seen as a potential VP choice for Hillary Clinton. But I call bullshit. I’m no Sanders booster, and as I’ve already written, I think Castro is a lightweight who would be akin to nominating Sarah Palin—unqualified and unprepared. Anyone trying to make this about primary politics is dead wrong.
Cecilia Muñoz was part of the White House policy group that promised immigration action during President Barack Obama’s first year, then failed to deliver … ever. She deserves all the criticism thrown her way on the issue. Of course, Latinos cheered when the head of the National Council of La Raza called Obama the “deporter in chief.” Did the NHLA cry about that organization being too mean and threaten to kick out La Raza from their coalition? Or does Muñoz get immunity from criticism—when her boss doesn’t—simply because of her last name?
I don’t know when or why Presente might’ve criticized the old school Latino organizations (probably for their large corporate donations, oftentimes seen as greenwashing payouts), but Presente—like Daily Kos—isn’t in this biz to make friends and be invited to the cocktail party circuit. That’s why I personally respect them more than any other Latino-issue focused group (alongside with America’s Voice). We should all be “playing rough in the sandbox.” Not sure why Brent Wilkes thinks that’s a bad thing. It wasn’t a bad thing during the “deporter in chief.” And if fighting for your people means throwing a few elbows, that’s what you’re supposed to be doing. Instead, we have these old-world Latino orgs getting all excited over stupid shit like this:
NHLA declined to comment on its internal deliberations but said that it has always been supportive of Castro, releasing a statement in favor of his nomination to Obama’s cabinet in May 2014 and recently sitting down with him after he accepted an invitation to discuss Latino issues on Feb. 26.
See? They sat down and had a meeting! Now you can’t criticize Castro anymore. Because, you know, they met. And had a meeting. Who cares what he’s done at HUD? He accepted an invitation! To meet.
Meanwhile, unable to push back on the merits of Presente’s criticism, Wilkes goes for the shoot-the-messenger approach instead:
“The pushback on [Presente] has been that it’s a Latino organization front group for a non-Latino organization going after Secretary Castro,” Wilkes said
Oh boy, is this like the right wing going after Shaun King for not being black enough? I know the Presente folks very well, and of course they are Latino. Fuck anyone who claims otherwise. They just aren’t kiss-ass Latinos. And in the end, that’s probably the root of this entire rift.