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Bruce McFarland: Call to arms or cautionary tale?

Posted: May 10, 2010 4:02 p.m.
Updated: May 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.
There's one thing that the neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, Minutemen, tea partiers and the Republican Party have in common: they all want you to be angry about illegal immigration - very, very angry.

The Cinco de Mayo versus U.S. Flag T-shirt incident in Morgan Hill may well be a precursor of things to come if the city of Santa Clarita decides it - rather than the federal government - is going to take over United States immigration enforcement.

Before anyone explodes out there, let me say I am in favor of enforcing existing immigration laws, and I support comprehensive immigration reform.

I also believe the E-Verify system should be required and employers that do not follow the rules should face substantial fines.

Not being a watcher of FOX (faux) News, I wasn't aware of the incident at Live Oak High School, in Morgan Hill, California, until I read about it in Roger Gitlin's May 9 column titled "Saluting five young patriots."

I wanted to find out more about the story. I was somewhat impressed that an event that happened on May 5 already generated 486 news article hits on Google. I was even more amazed to read other people's interpretation of the events of that day in Morgan Hill.

I was also sickened by the obscene quantity of thinly veiled - as well as out-and-out blatant - anti-Mexican hate speech that showed up on the comment sections of many news sources and blogs.

In his column, Gitlin wrote about a high school assistant principal's efforts to lessen the possibility of student violence during a school-sponsored Cinco de Mayo celebration.

He wrote: "On May 5, Rodriguez threatened to suspend five students who wore American flag/patriotic T-shirts to school. It seems the boys' vice principal felt the display of American flag shirts was incendiary and disrespectful during the celebration of the quite unofficial holiday of Cinco de Mayo."

Gitlin's interpretation of the events did mention the fact that there had been shouting between different groups on campus that morning, and he didn't even entertain the possibility that the boys might not have been happy with Mexican-Americans celebrating Cinco de Mayo, and might have worn the U.S. flag T-shirts to school to purposely antagonize the students of Mexican heritage.

As a big believer in the First Amendment, I agree it was wrong to tell the boys they had to remove their shirts or be sent home, but I do understand that campus safety is of utmost importance and I'm not sure what I would have done to diffuse that potentially dangerous situation.

That brings us to the upcoming Santa Clarita study session about illegal immigration.

The city is gathering information to present, so citizens can learn more about the options the city has in dealing with Santa Clarita residents who lack the proper documentation to be in the United States.

I am pretty sure city staff will report prior immigration enforcement efforts, their results and what they think the costs and risks will be if the city adopts and enforces certain new policies in the future.

I hope the City Council doesn't pander to the xenophobic fears of a few noisy people and put the people of Santa Clarita at financial and physical risk by attempting to go beyond its jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, all those groups I mentioned in the first paragraph have an interest in throwing a little gasoline on the immigration fire. The Klan, the Nazis and white supremacists just like to breed hatred of, you know, just about everyone.

The tea partiers and the Minutemen want to find fault with the government (especially now that Bush isn't president) so they have a reason to rally their troops. Like FOX News, they never met a fact they couldn't manipulate to meet their own way of thinking.

The Republican Party has little to excite its members, so it's decided it must get on the anti-illegal-immigration bandwagon to garner votes, and so someone will listen to it, and perhaps even think it pertinent.

As far as the quality of life in Santa Clarita goes, it's up to you to decide how you want to live. Would you like to see your children going to war with differently tinted children because some self-serving rabble rousers need a hateful cause to arouse their masses?

Maybe you can come forward and encourage people to get along with other people, regardless of their immigration status.

Let Congress adopt immigration reform that addresses the needs of the country.

Let's not make Santa Clarita an Arizona-type battleground - the costs would be just too dear.

Bruce McFarland is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Democratic Voices" runs Tuesday in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.


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