- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 5, 2002

A conservative student group at the University of California at Berkeley has become a target of death threats after the group printed a story criticizing a Hispanic campus group's call for revolutionary liberation from white people.
Members of the Berkeley Conservative Foundation said the current issue of California Patriot, the conservative monthly magazine, included a story that challenged statements made by members of a student group called "Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MECha )" who, in a flier, used the word "gringo" to describe white people and called for a revolt against them.
The conservative students said once the critical report on MECha was published in the Patriot last week, some of them were harassed by the group's members and a few of them received death threats. The next day, someone broke into their on-campus office and stole all 3,000 copies of the magazine. Damages are estimated at $2,000. Campus police are now investigating the incident.
The foundation members said yesterday that the latest actions have trampled on their rights to free speech. A college campus, they argue, should provide a forum where students can exchange ideas without being censored.
"I'm not sure what's more disgusting that we have racists of this caliber on campus in this day and age or that Berkeley is a haven for emotional children who believe that the law doesn't apply to them," said Kelso Barnett, a Berkeley student who is chairman of the conservative foundation. "This is terrorism, pure and simple."
MECha student officials could not be reached for comment yesterday. An e-mail message sent to a group official requesting an interview was not answered.
College administrators called the incidents "unconscionable behavior … that diminishes our community." Robert M. Berdahl, the university chancellor, said, "Such actions are completely antithetical to the values that form the foundation of our democracy, and such actions are particularly egregious in an educational setting."
Back in the 1960s, the university was the site of some of the biggest anti-war protests and some of the worst campus turmoil.
The article in the Patriot that has become the source of contention is called "MECha: Student Funded Bigotry and Hate," and it blames the Mexican American student group for impeding "advances in civil rights toward a colorblind American society" through "anti-American hate." It's "a mentality that leads its adherents to believe anyone who is white and male is to blame for any historical injustice," the story reads.
MECha is a national student movement that concentrates on political, social, educational and cultural issues that pertain to the Chicano movement, according to its mission statement.
In its flier, called "El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan," MECha called for a revolutionary liberation of the "bronze continent by the bronze people" and blasted the "gringos" for invading their land.
Thefts and harassment against politically conservative students have been a part of a longstanding problem at Berkeley.
Copies of the Patriot were reported stolen twice in the last year, and several copies were burned after the publication of stories that some campus groups deemed controversial.
Speeches on campus sponsored by the College Republicans and the Patriot have been cut short twice when audience members became rowdy during the talks.
Dan Flynn of Accuracy in Academia was greeted by an angry mob when he came to speak on campus two years ago. Last spring, conservative writer David Horowitz's speech about reparations ended abruptly when a member of the audience yelled at Mr. Horowitz for placing an ad in the campus newspaper critical of the idea of black reparations.
Robb McFadden, a Berkeley student and a College Republican group chairman, said his group should have the same rights as any other group on campus.

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