How an organization that calls itself “The Race” can be non-racist is a puzzle far to deep for me to figure out — JR

Questions over the fact that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, claims membership in La Raza, which has promoted driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, amnesty programs and no immigration law enforcement by state and local police, are spreading, with both CNN and MSNBC featuring discussion of the issue with a severe critic of illegal immigration.

WND reported earlier this week when it was confirmed the American Bar Association listed La Raza, which means “the Race,” as one of the groups in which Sotomayor is a member. Talk radio icon Rush Limbaugh described Sotomayor as a “racist” based on her statement that she should be able to make better judgments than a white man, not on her La Raza membership. But former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., took the criticism a step further in his interviews on the two networks. On MSNBC, Tancredo said Sotomayor should be disqualified from the court nomination because of her remarks.

He said when her actual statements are reviewed, the issue is clear. “If I were to say something like this, ‘I think only a white man could judge the law really well. I think a white man could interpret it better than a brown woman,’ would that disqualify me? I would think so. I would hope so,” he said.

Sotomayor’s actual statement, made during a 2001 speech at the University of California’s Berkeley School of Law, was: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

It was published the next year in the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal. “It would disqualify anyone else,” Tancredo said. On CNN, he described La Raza as a “Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses,” and suggested if a judge belongs to such an organization, something needs to be provided in the way of an explanation “to convince me and a lot of other people that it’s got nothing to do with race.”

Even the White House jumped into the fray, with press secretary Robert Gibbs explaining today the judge was “simply making the point that experiences are relevant to the process of judging” and conceding the word choice probably wasn’t the best. “I think he’d say her word choice in 2001 was poor,” said Gibbs, asked about White House thoughts on the controversy. “I think if she had the speech to do all over again I think she’d change that word,” said Gibbs, when asked about Sotomayor’s reference to “better.”

At the Colorado Independent, Ernest Luning reported that La Raza officials didn’t think much of Tancredo’s comments. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” spokeswoman Lisa Navarrete told the newspaper. “He’s defamed our organization and told falsehoods about our organization without any basis in fact or evidence. That’s not who we are or what we do.”

Tancredo often has taken politically unpopular positions, one time suggesting that the threat of a U.S. bombing of Mecca should be on the table if that’s what it would take to prevent another terrorist attack on the United States.

At the Swamp Politics political blog, Mark Silva wrote that Tancredo might not even be a factor of the debate over Sotomayor “if he hadn’t sought the Republican Party’s presidential nomination last year as an outspoken critic of illegal immigration – and if he hadn’t also denounced the National Council of La Raza … as a ‘Latino KKK without the hoods.'”

Glenn Thrush at noted La Raza is “one of the nation’s oldest mainstream Hispanic advocacy groups, with 300 neighborhood affiliates and corporate sponsorship that includes Citigroup.”

Tancredo said, “There is no one else I can think of who could possibly have said the kind of things she said, if they were reported accurately, about the benefits of being a brown woman as opposed to being a white man in interpreting the law, and nobody could look at that and say that that was not a racist, sexist statement that would disqualify anybody else.”

On the Politico forums page, an anonymous participant wrote: “It seems that as we have had racism from white Americans in our past, now white Americans are experiencing reverse racism from other races. Neither is better than the other. In both cases, this is an example of racism. What happened in the past is one thing, but we are living in the present. People have a chance to move on and not play the race card anymore. Is there anyone brave enough to say that attacks on white Americans are just as bad as attacks on Americans of other colors?”

“I’m not saying she’s a racist, but the statement sure is,” columnist Ann Coulter said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Imagine a judicial nominee said ‘my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman,'” blogged former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. “Wouldn’t they have to withdraw? New racism is no better than old racism. A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”

As WND previously reported, La Raza was condemned in 2006 by former U.S. Rep. Charles Norwood, R-Ga., as a radical “pro-illegal immigration lobbying organization that supports racist groups calling for the secession of the western United States as a Hispanic-only homeland.” Norwood urged La Raza to renounce its support of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan – which sees “the Race” as part of an ethnic group that one day will reclaim Aztlan, the mythical birthplace of the Aztecs. In Chicano folklore, Aztlan includes California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and parts of Colorado and Texas.