The Huffington Post Latino Edition recently commented on an outrageous and incoherent rant at Anaheim Blog. The blogger, Matt Cunningham, was attempting to criticize calls for police oversight in the Latino community. In doing so, he posted a photo depicting a memorial site wherein a defaced teddy bear was lying next to a Virgin de Guadalupe candle. The photo was perceived by many to mock a yearly ritual, held the day before, by the mother of man who was shot and killed by police. Cunningham defended the post by pointing to his Latino wife and children. Nevertheless, not being racist does not give one the license to be incredibly mean and insensitive.
Unsurprisingly, Huff Post missed the mark entirely by describing the event as a “conservative’s attempt at political satire”. The mischaracterization plays into the hands of those ultimately responsible for the conduct and dirties the perception of Republicans within the Latino community. At some point, Cunningham may have been something of a conservative activist, but he can more accurately be described as a political consultant/hired propagandist who has worked for Republicans on more occasions than he has for Democrats, though the discrepancy is not large.
Currently, Cunningham runs a blog at the behest of a powerful lobbying organization. Anaheim Blog is the de facto ministry of communication for the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. A cursory glance over its content reveals that its sole purpose is to promote the Chamber’s interests. Higher-ups within the Chamber have the ultimate say in what goes up, and what stays up. I know this based on my personal experience with the blog, but it should not come as a surprise given that the forum is not exactly dedicated to meaningful debate.
As such, criticism of the so-called “conservative blogger” is misplaced. Outrage should be directed at the Anaheim Chamber, which is not conservative. Its only purpose is to expand its influence and promote the interests of its clients. Despite being a recipient of public money, it does not concern itself with the public good, nor with the interests of the business community. Of course, nothing is per se wrong with a lobbying organization such as the Chamber, but its influence, accompanied and reinforced by the lobbying firm headed by former-Mayor Curt Pringle, has grown so large as to prevent meaningful debate at City Hall.
By letting the Chamber off the hook and pinning the outrage to a “conservative”, Huff Post inadvertently helped the Chamber. As a lobbying organization, the Chamber thrives on dividing the community by setting up phony grassroots organizations and pursuing campaigns that insincerely exploit political beliefs on the left and right. An early example of the approach was the grassroots group called Save Our Anaheim Resort, or SOAR, which prayed on concerns of immigration and affordable housing, but was actually a cash funnel for Disney and other big business interests. Recently, the Chamber did its part in the organized effort to tarnish Mayor Tait’s reputation for kindness by exploiting liberal attitudes towards hate speech. The list goes on and the degree of sincerity is always minimal or nonexistent.
Huff Post should have thought twice before throwing conservatives under the bus because Anaheim’s hope for a better future currently rests on whether a conservative mayor will win reelection. Mayor Tom Tait has opposed the Chamber on a number of issues and has sincerely reached-out to the city’s Latino community. At the same time, he has sought to fix the pension problem. As a result, next year he will face reelection challenges from labor and the Chamber along with their labor allies. With respect to voting power, the ultimate winner in the mayor’s race is of little consequence. The Chamber, in conjunction with former-Mayor Pringle, has near total control over the four vote majority bloc, and as discussed in my previous post, the bloc’s hold on power is, for all intents and purposes, solid. Looking to the future, however, the race has enormous symbolic value. Should Mayor Tait not win a second term, Republicans will be less likely to reach-out to Latinos and members of both parties will have their fears of the Chamber reinforced.
A defeat for Mayor Tait and a win for the Chamber is unquestionably bad for Anaheim’s Latinos. Cunningham’s outrageous post (kept up for days) reveals the Chamber’s profound insensitivity towards the Latino community; but more important, it was just one of many meant to discredit Latino leaders, and resist their calls for electoral reform and police oversight. It’s not that the Chamber seeks to keep Latinos down because it is a racist organization, it just refuses to share any influence because it’s bad business. Nonetheless, its actions are having a particularly negative impact on the Latino community.
The Anaheim Chamber of Commerce has exploited numerous liberal causes in order to enrich its clients and keep the Latino community out of power. In addition, they have severely undermined the prospects for public-sector pension reform by teaming-up with the implicated unions. Republicans and conservatives should stand up for Latinos in Anaheim, while simultaneously making our case for limited government and personal liberty. If we fail to act, liberal media outlets like the Huffington Post will surely blame all the problems Latinos face on Republicans.