The stench of racism has yet again reared its head in the United States, even as figures like President Donald Trump himself belligerently assert that he doesn’t have a “racist bone” in his body. A video has emerged showing about ten student members of the boys’ water polo team at Pacifica High School in southern California performing an obscure Nazi anthem while giving the Nazi salute traditionally used to greet Adolf Hitler. The grotesque display unfolded at an awards ceremony last fall, and was memorialized by a student who posted the video and lyrics to Instagram. School authorities first became aware of the incident in March, they say, a full four months or so after it happened.
Check out video of the incident shared by The Daily Beast:
School authorities would not specify any sort of disciplinary action that had been taken against those seen in the video proudly displaying the imagery used to mark mass murder in the World War II era. They say they “did address” the incident with those involved, but they took no apparent more community-oriented step to address the display, even though video of the incident even circulated among students.
A Garden Grove Unified School district spokesperson said:
‘While the district cannot comment on student discipline, the school did address this situation with all involved students and families. The district adheres to strong policies about harassment and cultural sensitivity, and we condemn all acts of anti-Semitism and hate in all forms. We remain focused on educating students about cultural sensitivity and are committed to holding students accountable, educating them on the consequences of their choices, and the impact these actions have on our schools and community at large.’
The Anti Defamation League’s Orange County, California chapter’s Director Rabbi Peter Levi insisted that school authorities should have taken some step other than their casual, behind-the-scenes address of this issue. Displays of violently racist imagery have community-wide ramifications.
‘Generally speaking, especially when something like this involves a group, we would think a more meaningful approach would be to use this as a learning opportunity, as an opportunity community-wide to state what our values are. This requires investigation and conversation… We’d like to see a more systematic response.’
This incident is not the first time recently that southern California students have been caught with displays of Nazi imagery. In March — when Garden Grove school district authorities claim to have learned of the salute video — other Orange County high school students were suspended after video emerged of them playing beer pong at a party with cups arranged in a swastika and giving the Nazi salute while engaged in this.
Besides the suspension, the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum also “invited students who attended the party to tour its museum and meet with Holocaust survivors,” and the museum’s CEO Beth Kean told The Daily Beast that they would “definitely love” to extend the same invitation to students involved in this incident.
Both incidents have unfolded as Nazi imagery gets an increasingly prominent place in the national political conversation. Explicitly neo-Nazi groups have descended on cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, and Portland, Oregon, and President Donald Trump has either insisted there were “very fine people” on both sides or that only the leftist counterprotesters are the bad ones.
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