The primary attractiveness of America is the fact that individuals may come to this place from all around the globe, with different religious convictions, different ethnic backgrounds, be of different colors, and have different cultural experiences … and, yet, be able to forge a common identity out of all of those differences. This is the essence of our creed: E Pluribus Unum – “Out of Many, One.”

Since the founding of our nation, Americans have embraced this creed. Although our country is not yet that “perfect union” of which we strive, the quest to achieve it is what unites Americans and enables us continue our progress while other nations falter.

In light of this inspirational history, it is all-the-more surprising that individuals who promote disunion among our diverse population would enjoy more than occasional success in tearing down the social fabric, scrambling on top of the wreckage, and claiming a curious moral high ground.

Like any racket, however, this act hasn’t stood the test of scrutiny very well, and is beginning to look more than a little ragged around the edges, as more Americans – particularly Californians – grow increasingly impatient with the hypocrisy offered by those who seek to tear us asunder. Illustrative of this hypocrisy is the curious case of Nativo Lopez, once a significant political power broker, but increasingly ignored by the very people he purports to represent.

Lopez is currently the president of the Mexican American Political Association, not traditionally a radical organization. But, in the hands of a self-described “activist,” the MAPA presidency is nothing short of a license to threaten the racial harmony that actually exists through most of Southern California.

The truth is that individuals of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds have successfully assimilated more quickly and over a longer period of time in Southern California than in any other region of the country. This is because California is still the “Golden State,” offering millions of people a second chance, a new beginning and unsurpassed opportunity. What California offers is available to anyone willing to work hard enough to earn it.

Nativo Lopez apparently doesn’t see it that way. In Lopez’ world, overt and covert racism are the equivalent of chains that tie down “minorities” and inhibit upward mobility, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. This is the toxicity of being a victim, a phenomenon that contradicts the courage and steadfastness that individuals from all around the world have come to California to demonstrate for centuries and that has led to their undeniable success in helping to shape our common society.

In the tradition of other well-known shakedown artists, Lopez has transformed himself into a mortgage-lending executive and is attacking lending company Ameriquest and its CEO, Roland Arnall, conveniently based in his back yard of Anaheim.

Providing no evidence, Lopez says that Ameriquest “has targeted poor people and minorities to fleece them, under the pretext that they are people with no credit, or poor credit, or bad credit.”

This probably explains an excerpt from a MAPA resolution adopted July 16, 2005: “The MAPA leadership has attempted on numerous occasions to meet with the owner Roland Arnall to address these concerns, but he has adamantly refused.” It is worthy of note that an article in the Aug. 7, 2005 edition of the Los Angeles Times that Lopez has met with Arnall “several times.”

Interestingly, a demonstration several days ago in Orange County failed to ignite the kind of media attention and community anger of days past. This is surely a sign that the Lopez routine may, indeed, be losing its appeal.

Lopez is, perhaps, best known as a former member of the Santa Ana Unified School District board of trustees. The key word here is “former,” as he was recalled from his position in early 2003. Why was this? Because he attempted to sabotage the learning of English by Latino citizens, and they didn’t like it one bit.

In 1998, 61 percent of Californians voted for Proposition 227, which mandated that English be the primary language taught in public schools. But Mr. Lopez was hoping to pressure enough parents into defying the referendum so as to render it unenforceable in Santa Ana.

His actions clearly drew the ire of his constituents, and Lopez was recalled by a resounding 71 percent vote. He lost every precinct in a city where almost three-fourths of the residents speak Spanish at home.

What has happened since then? An unqualified success for the kind of English instruction that Latino parents wanted and their children deserve. “We’re seeing success of (English learners) in English-only instruction,” said Helen Stainer, the assistant superintendent of elementary education at Santa Ana Unified. The district has gone from 11,029 bilingual education students in 1998 to 1,668 last year.

The fact is, Californians are coming closer together and our social fabric is strong. While there will always be imperfections, more opportunity for more people exists today than at any other time in our history.

Why won’t people like Nativo Lopez admit this? Simple: They are profiteers in what amounts to an industry that promotes bitterness, hopelessness and victimization.

A considerable number of Latinos got wise to Nativo Lopez years ago and rejected his signature brand of separatism. Given his most recent inability to divide us along racial lines, it appears that many more are moving away from his harsh and harmful message.

This fact is a cause for celebration.

Ward Connerly, author of the autobiography, “Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences,” is founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute – a national, not-for-profit organization aimed at educating the public about the need to move beyond racial and gender preferences. Mr. Connerly has gained national attention and respect as an outspoken advocate of equal opportunity for all Americans, regardless of race, sex or ethnic background.

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