Schwarzenegger’s Remarks: “Base Racism”?

Yesterday, during an interview on illegal immigration, Arnold Schwarzenegger touted The Minuteman Project, a “citizens’ neighborhood watch along our border.” Some were displeased:

Schwarzenegger Praises Border Volunteers (AP)

Nativo V. Lopez, president of the Mexican-American Political Association, called Schwarzenegger’s comments Thursday “nothing short of base racism.”

“Those of immigrant stock should have no illusions about what his real sentiments and feelings are toward them,” he said.

Schwarzenegger’s press secretary called the issue a matter of national security.

“It’s not racist to ask the federal government to enforce its laws,” Thompson said.

Schwarzenegger’s comments came a week after he faced criticism for telling a gathering of newspaper publishers that the United States needed to “close the borders.” He apologized the next day, blaming faulty English and saying he really meant the borders should be secured.

My thoughts on the Project happen to be closer to those of President Bush, who’s said: “I’m against vigilantes in the United States of America. I’m for enforcing the law in a rational way.” In general, since I don’t consider illegal immigration to be the high-priority issue that the Governor clearly does, I have qualms about his recent statements, as well as fears that he’s following Pete Wilson’s lead to energize conservatives.

Nevertheless, Lopez is completely out of line. Just because the Governor wants to tighten border controls — and even supports rather questionable measures to implement them — does not necessarily mean that he harbors hateful “sentiments and feelings” toward Mexicans. Indeed, if the Governor is guilty of catering to his base, then Lopez is even more so. He’s being an ineffective grassroots leader, to boot.

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, , ,
Robert Garcia Tagorda
About Robert Garcia Tagorda
Robert blogged prolifically at OTB from November 2004 to August 2005, when career demands took him in a different direction. He graduated summa cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and earned his Master in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.


  1. bryan says:

    “Those of immigrant stock should have no illusions about what his real sentiments and feelings are toward them,” he said.

    Am I the only one who finds this statement incredibly ironic?

  2. John Martin says:

    All the idiots seem to come out of the closet when the word “illegal” is mentioned,
    and this seems to be typical of Assemblyman Hector De La Torre’s comments. If he
    can’t have a “Mexican State” than he screams Mexican racism or some other voodoo.
    I think Arnold is just fed up with the whole situation of American laws either being
    broken or disrespected. I believe he is waking up to the fact that this so called
    picking on the poor defenseless immigrant is just another smoke screen for the
    continued mass illegal immigration from Mexico. He now sees the huge social and
    economic burdens that California taxpayers have had to deal with. At least we should
    give him a pat on the back for having to put up with all this crap.

  3. Great minds think alike, Robert. This guy Lopez is an idiot, and apparently so is his organization if you look at any of their press releases.

    They are not only against legal immigration, they are apparently against law enforcement, period. I am not impressed with them, at all.

  4. Scott Dillard says:

    Let me tell you all a little something about “Nativo” Lopez. He used to be on the Santa Ana, CA school board. The students there are about 75% Hispanic. A few years ago we here in CA stopped mandatory bilingual education. A school district that wanted to continue with it had to have a majority of the parents consent to it and had to petition the state. “Nativo” was determined to have bilingual ed in Santa Ana. Unfortunately for him, the Hispanic parents voted some 85% against it. “Nativo” insisted. He had his ass voted off the board. So much for “Nativo”. By the way, the name is as phony as his concern for “immigrants”.

  5. No Bryan, you are not the only one. Unless Mr. Lopez’s statement is an implicit acknowledgement of the self-loathing liberals feel.

    However, I am wondering if this is not a made-up story. The name “Nativo” seems too perfect.

  6. Donnie C. says:

    I am a Minuteman and worked the border in Arizona. I want to thank Mr. Lopez for supporting the flood of undocumented workers in to my country. Yes, with his help thousands of none citizens are dying trying to cross illegally into our country bringing with them drugs, gang violence and theft not to mention a drain on our economic system. Interesting thing Mr. Lopez….we have laws and as you will soon see change is in the wind. I don’t think your going to like the way it’s blowing

  7. Allow me to translate Bush’s statement into reality. “I’m for enforcing the law in a rational way” means “I’m doing nothing because I’m beholden to the big corporations that profit off illegal immigration.”

    As for Nativo, I’d hope that anyone who quotes hime – whether the AP, LAT, or bloggers – would spend a little bit of time with google first. There’s a lot out there.

    Like this or this.

    If you want to do a public service, please write the AP and the LAT and suggest that they provide some background on Lopez if they quote him:

    feedback at
    Readers.Rep at

    I listened to the radio interview, and Arnold made it clear he was talking about *illegal* immigration and that he supported legal immigration and legal immigrants. Anyone who implies otherwise is a liar.

  8. Consipirioitus says:

    Pleasing big business by providing cheap labor is not what our toleration of illegals is all about. It’s just a side benefit. The big corporations can and do go to China and India for cheap labor.
    The goal is destroy our system of independent countrys. The USA, as presently constituted, is the major obstacle to a one world system. Bush may not like it but he takes his orders from Vicente Fox seriously.

  9. More links about Larry “Nativo” Lopez here.

  10. Rod Stanton says:

    If trying to prevent another 911 is racism then I am a racist. I am so unhappy that the man I voted for is turning into a big government liberal and ardent supporter of the ACLU. Vigilantes indeed.
    These patriotic Americans are showing the world how to win the War on Terror. It seems my President wants to surrender.

    Expect to see someone at the 08 DNC talk about sedcurity but instead of “spitballs” talk about uncontrolled borders. And liberal Presidents who refuse to defend America.