Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/07/2010 06:35:17 PM PDT
BIG BEAR LAKE, CA. - A "Mexico" t-shirt worn to support the county's World Cup soccer team has created a full-blown controversy in the Bear Valley Unified School District.
The mother of the girl who wore the shirt to Big Bear Middle School on June 11 alleges her seventh-grade daughter's teacher took offense to the shirt and accused her of being an illegal immigrant in front of the class.
Diana Aviles says she and her daughter are U.S. citizens. The teacher later apologized.
The incident has erupted into a battle between anti-illegal immigration activists and Latino groups who say the teacher's alleged behavior is an example of racism and racial profiling.
At the district's Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, members of the conservative activist's group We The People were expected to speak during public comment. The group opposes illegal immigration and employers who hire and exploit illegal aliens, according to a statement on its Web site.
Ray Herrera, the group's founder, president and spokesman, says he believes Aviles is an illegal immigrant granted amnesty. He says she's trying to push a "Mexican agenda" on Americans. She allowed her daughter to attend school with the shirt and owns a Mexican restaurant in Big Bear City that displays a Mexican flag, which Herrera describes as "antagonistic."
Aviles said it's not outrageous to have a Mexican flag in a Mexican restaurant. The flag has been taken down because of harassment,
Advertisement she said. When the Mexican flag was up, she said the American flag was larger and displayed higher.
"I'm not pushing anything political," Aviles said. "I had a small Mexican flag and a huge American flag, only for the reason that I'm a Mexican-American restaurant. I don't like people to say I'm not American. This is my country."
Herrera said Latino groups such as The League of United Latin American Citizens have publicly called the incident an example of racial profiling so it can be cited during it's fight against Arizona's SB 1070 law, which requires police in the state to check the immigration status of people they suspect are illegal immigrants.
"They've been campaigning throughout the county on behalf of illegal immigrants," Herrera said. "This is just a case where they think they've found another poster child - another racial profiling story."
Leroy Martinez, vice president of LULAC Council 3163, said he decided to attend the meeting after he heard the group planned to speak.
"If (Herrera) wants to turn this into an immigration issue that's his problem," Martinez said. "The reality is you have an American student who was profiled."
A statement from the district says it's investigating allegations from a student that a teacher made racist remarks against her during a class. The statement then says the district will not comment on the findings of the investigation until it's completed.
Aviles says the teacher should be fired. She wants her daughter to be moved to another class if the teacher remains at the school.
"I'm angry," Aviles said. "Why should it be turned into a political thing when this is about a child who is being ridiculed? That teacher showed hatred in the class."
The teacher's apology is enough and the investigation should be dropped so the matter doesn't distract students, Herrera said.
Although I most certainly do believe that if Mexicans think Mexico is so great, they should go back. In the case of this Mexican restaurant, people's anger over the Mexican flag is misplaced. I've seen Italian restaurants displaying the Italian flag, and I know of a sushi restaurant that displays the Japanese flag. I once went to a German restaurant where they flew the German flag. At the Danish style town of Solvang, Ca., you can see the Danish Flag. However, in most cases, the American flag is also flown, and in a higher position than any other, as it should be.
Now I wrote a different comment when I posted this on our forum yesterday, but after having a day to think about it, I realised I was too harsh. Mexicans do have a tendency to abuse the right to fly flags other than that of the United States. They fly the Mexican flag higher than ours, or they don't bother to fly ours at all - especially in the case of illegals. However, I don't think it's inappropriate to fly a foreign flag at a restaurant that sells the food of that country, as long as the American flag is also flown and at a higher position, as required by law.
I'm not a big fan of Mexican food, but I've been known to eat a burrito every now and again. I enjoy pizza. Sushi - yuk! But to each his own. I generally prefer American style food, but every now and again it's nice to go out for Chinese food, or to the 'Olive Garden', or wherever. I think it's part of the decore. It adds to the ambience - as long as the American Flag is present, and the most prominent.
As to the t-shirt, many Mexicans are big soccer fans. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself. I can't stand the sport, but that's just my taste. However, this girl calls herself an American. America has several soccer teams of its own. If she really is an American, she should be rooting for our country, and not some foreign team. Show your patriotism. Buy American, root American!