Julián Castro Goes To Bat For Mom's Chicano Activism

March 22nd, 2019 5:09 PM

Once former San Antonio Mayor and secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro announced his presidential aspirations for 2020, it was only a matter of time before an inevitable syrupy sit-down with Univision’s Jorge Ramos. That time has come, with an interview on Facebook Watch.

Univision has long been a cheerleader of the effort to force Julián Castro upon the national political consciousness, an endeavor that has been ongoing ever since Castro’s election in 2009. Back in 2010, the national media were already crowning Castro:

In early December, Julián Castro, the newly elected mayor of San Antonio, visited the White House to attend President Obama’s national jobs-and-economic-growth forum. Castro was one of only five mayors in attendance and, at 35, the youngest. When his turn came to speak — the subject was the creation of green jobs — the president looked at him, midway down the long conference table, and said: “I thought he was on our staff. I thought he was an intern. This guy’s a mayor?” The other participants — world-famous economists, environmentalists and politicians — burst into laughter.

“Of San Antonio, Tex.,” Castro said evenly.

Obama grinned. “I’m messing with you,” he said. “I know who you are.”

Castro was neither flustered nor flattered by the president’s bantering familiarity. Of course Obama knew who he was — gate-crashers might make it into White House social events, but they don’t get to the table of high-level West Wing policy meetings led by the president himself. Castro smiled politely at Obama’s jest and then proceeded to the business at hand, delivering prepared remarks about employment and the energy market in San Antonio. He is cerebral, serious, self-contained and highly efficient. If he were an energy source, he’d be zero-emission. A video of the event shows the president listening intently to Castro’s presentation and nodding occasionally, Harvard Law ’91 silently encouraging Harvard Law ’00.

It didn’t get any better in 2012, with Castro’s speech at the DNC, or with the subsequent push  to make him Hillary Clinton’s running mate. We took note of these things here, in our coverage of an interview between Castro and Ramos that was conducted over a game of ping pong. Foreshadowing, indeed.

Fast forward to the 2020 presidential election. Ramos’ sit-down with Castro continues where he left off in 2015: softball after softball. Watch below as one of those softballs about the candidate's activist Mom, Rosie, sets up a major historical whitewash.


JULIAN CASTRO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (D): I would say that she was a trailblazer. You know...

RAMOS: Yeah. Yes, she was, no?

CASTRO: I’ve always had this issue with people that label the chicano movement radical. Because, fundamentally, all they were asking for was to be able to participate in the system. And I see that as just fundamentally American- quintessentially American...trying to make sure that people could vote, that they could participate, that they could be a part of the country.

Sounds nice, but La Raza Unida, the ethnocentric political party to which Ms. Castro belonged, was about a bit more than that, including support for the "liberation" of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. In August of 1970, The New York Times noted:

La Raza Unida has become more and more militant in recent months, with demands for boycotts against “gringo” businesses and demonstrations against the police and other elected officials. There have been predictions that the confrontations, mostly peaceful so far, are on the verge of growing violent.

Mario Compean of San Antonio, the state chairman of the Mexican‐American Youth Organization, a forerunner of La Raza Unida, said he did not condone violence but that he expected it.

“It will not be because the Chicano wants it but because gringo institutions refuse to respond,” Mr. Compean said.

And then there’s Ms. Castro’s own profoundly anti-American view of Texas history, as memorialized in her 2010 observations regarding The Alamo in an interview with The New York Times magazine.

“They used to take us there when we were schoolchildren,” she told me. “They told us how glorious that battle was. When I grew up I learned that the ‘heroes’ of the Alamo were a bunch of drunks and crooks and slaveholding imperialists who conquered land that didn’t belong to them. But as a little girl I got the message — we were losers. I can truly say that I hate that place and everything it stands for.”

But none of that seemed to pique Ramos’ interest. Even when appearing to ask a tough question, he just floated the questions out there and let Castro go on. No follow-ups, nothing that would disturb the narrative of the crowning of the "First Presidente."

With Castro currently polling in single digits, how soon before Ramos relaunches the VP push?