06/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Old School Politics: Gil Cedillo Defends His Attack on Pleitez

Ok I was surprised.

Given that Cedillo is struggling for a seat that was once thought to be his to lose, I thought that my question to him yesterday during our interview about the ill-informed and widely distributed slam mailer he sent out against Emanuel Pleitez was a no-brainier. I fully expected the Senator to distance himself from the attack. Cedillo could have said that it was mistaken in its approach, or find a way to say it was not what he meant to say. Based on his record I may have easily moved on. Instead, the would-be Congressman defended the mailer and said that he believed that Emanuel Pleitez had glamorized gang activity on his Facebook page by flashing the letter 'V" while standing next to Rosario Dawson who was flashing the letter "L" . Huh? I couldn't make this stuff up. You can hear it for yourself by clicking here.

Clarification: Dawson is not a chola and Emanuel is not a gang-banger. They were at an event for Voto Latino and flashing a "V" and an "L".

A certain level of consistency is important so I had to ask myself what my reaction would be if a non-Latino candidate had attacked a young Latino candidate by associating him with three pages of out-of-context machismo stereotypes and accused him of "flashing gang signs". If that were the case I would express outrage, and so, I am.

The youth in our community have many hurdles to overcome to enter even the middle class. Any one of our community's young men and women that find their way to a good job should be applauded. Any one of our young community members that enter college should be applauded and supported. Any one of our youth that decide to go into the morass which is politics should be applauded, supported, and defended, even when they challenge those that are part of the status quo.

Debate and even aggressive attack is part of politics, but as we prepare for the next generation of Latino/a leaders our conduct should demonstrate that we can debate each other aggressively without using the tactics of our real enemies. Imagery and language designed to demean the best of our youth as reckless and gang influenced has no place in any Democratic primary. Cedillo has in the past defined integrity and compassion, this tactic is far beneath him.

Cedillo has raised well over six hundred thousand dollars by now. If you want to give him more for his final mail campaign you can go to his website by clicking here.