At a recent President Trump rally, members of the crowd chanted “send her back!” a likely reference to Somalia-born Minnesota Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar. That prompted charges of racism and xenophobia from Democrats and the establishment media. Both seemed unaware that similar sentiments had been expressed before, by a government official in California.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s choice for Health and Welfare Secretary was Texas-born Mario Obledo, who served from 1975 to 1982. The People’s World, a successor to the Daily Worker, explains that Obledo “is credited with opening up doors for countless Latinos and other minorities in state government.” By his own admission, Obledo gave preference in hiring on the basis of ethnicity, which California voters banned through the California Civil Rights Initiative, Proposition 209, in 1996. Obledo was also co-founder of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). MALDEF is considered one of the four primary Latino pressure groups which include the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the National Council of La Raza (La Raza), the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), and MALDEF.
Obledo also ran unsuccessfully for governor of California in the early 1980s and served as the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. He is most known for his demand that “California is going to become a Hispanic state, and if anyone doesn’t like it, they should leave.”
In 1998, President Bill Clinton gave Obledo the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At that event, a man in the audience asked, “You also made the statement that California is going to become a Hispanic state and if anyone doesn’t like it they should leave. Did you say that?”
“I did,” Mario Obledo replied. “They ought to go back to Europe.” Obledo expressed no regrets, nobody pressed the point, and the ceremony carried on.
As Californians might note, the “go back to Europe” statement came directly from Mario Obledo, not any group of his followers. “They” – the ones ordered back – would obviously include native-born Californians – which Obledo was not. Native Californians and legal immigrants might notice another reality.
There is considerable evidence that Somalia-born Ilhan Omar entered a sham marriage with her brother and committed immigration fraud. If proven true, Omar would be eligible for deportation. On the other hand, no native Californian can be deported anywhere, and nobody should leave California for opposing the ideas of Mario Obledo. The alleged “champion of civil rights,” according to the People’s World, died in 2010 at 78.
True champions of civil rights such as Martin Luther King never demanded that American citizens leave the country. King wanted all Americans to be appraised on the content of their character.
Californians can be forgiven for wondering why President Clinton would give the nation’s highest civilian honor to someone like Mario Obledo. He ran for governor of California as a Democrat but early in his career he was a supporter of La Raza Unida Party, based on The Cosmic Race (La Raza Cosmica) by influential Mexican education minister and presidential candidate Jose Vasconcelos.
The book contends that the fusion of Spaniards and Indians is a new race “infinitely superior to all that have previously existed” and destined to replace the “anglo” yankees, who are passing into history. The first bilingual edition of The Cosmic Race was published in 1979 by the Department of Chicano Studies at California State University at Los Angeles. Vasconcellos’ ideas are the core curriculum of this non-discipline and its activists.
As Mexican-American Communist Bert Corona noted in Memoirs of Chicano History, Vasconcelos’ racial theory was “close to the kind of German racial superiority theory supported by Hitler.” Vasconcelos became a fascist, and as Corona explained, “I couldn’t accept all this. We’re not a superior race.”
La Raza Cosmica was also the basis for the influential National Council of La Raza. In 2017, the organization changed its name to UnidosUS.