Friday, March 07, 2014

High School Ignorance In Westchester - Scary Republicanism at CPAC

Tweet by Mahopac student Ryan Sarfaty
What is it with students from cushy suburban high schools lately and this fascination with using social media to spread offensive messages and imagery based on the most ignorant kinds of racial stereotyping?
It was only eleven days ago that I blogged about the staged lynching of a wrestling practice dummy by eight wrestlers from Phillipsburg High School in New Jersey after they beat a rival high school with a wrestling team and student body comprised of a considerably higher ratio of African-American kids.

A few minutes ago my buddy James called me from up in the Bronx. He's all kinds of pissed off about the news reports about messages posted by some students from Mahopac High School that were released on Twitter after their boys varsity basketball team lost a close AA semifinal playoff game to perennial New York state powerhouse Mount Vernon High School; which is predominantly black.     

Mahopac has suspended the students who posted the offensive Tweets and all of them will participate in sensitivity training. But it doesn't make sense. I mean, look at the home page of this high school; on the surface it seems like a basically normal high school right?

But look on the menu on the left side of the page where Mahopac Central School District superintendent Thomas Manko posted a March 5th press release about the post-game incident; and it's clear something is happening in this community that prompted the students in question to post those offensive Tweets.

I'll grant there were some reports (but no evidence so far) of some Mount Vernon fans making some derogatory comments about the Mahopac cheerleaders during the game; but what's prompting a Mahopac student to bring a Confederate flag to the semifinal game and wave it around? Or another student to Tweet an image of the Confederate flag?  

There's a lot of people incensed about this incident, including students from Mahopac and the Mahopac boy's varsity basketball coach; who's black by the way. But what really irked my friend Jimmy is that he just can't make sense if it.

Jimmy's 2nd generation Irish and he grew up in Bronxville and now lives in the heavily Irish section of the Bronx known as Woodlawn; which some jokingly refer to as the "27th County".

He's in his early 50's and in high school he was was an exceptional wrestler. He used to head over to Mount Vernon High School to wrestle with members of their team because he liked to match skills with them and their coach at the time was a big influence on him personally.

Jimmy told me he was always treated with respect by students, athletes and coaches at Mount Vernon High School and so were his older brothers when they went over to cheer for him or watch him wrestle there. I share that because it's an example that the behavior by the Mahopac students and players was deeply offensive to a number of people; of all races and backgrounds.

But it's not just taking place in Mahopac. USA Today had an article on the same incident that also highlighted an incident during a girl's basketball game in Illinois when some members of the predominantly white Bedford North Lawrence High School student section dressed up in safari gear to slight the far more diverse student body and team from Lawrence North HS.

Maybe these students are only repeating stereotypes they've learned? The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is well underway and Republicans are jockeying for the right to call themselves the most "severely conservative."

Now I'm not talking about governors like Chris Christie or Bobby Jindal standing up on the podium and teeing off on President Obama like mocking him is some kind of solution to pull America out of this protracted economic slump aggravated by stagnant wages and sluggish hiring.

I'm talking about straight out white nationalism espoused by a number of CPAC participants and speakers as reported by Devin Burghart in a really excellent piece on that exposes people like Robert Vandervoort and Peter Brimelow.

These guys are 1000 times more dangerous than "Mr. Hayes", the crazy dude in Florida flying a KKK flag and a Confederate flag over his trailer (and for the perfect tri-fecta of intolerance, a noose in the front yard too!) in Boca Raton, Florida.

Clowns like Vandervoort and Brimelow are dangerous because the Republican party is perfectly willing to legitimize their extremist beliefs in an effort to fan the flames of hatred against President Obama; and more so because tolerance of that kind of mindless hostility towards someone because of the color of their skin is clearly filtering down to some of the teenagers in places like Mahopac and Phillipsburg - and there's nothing remotely American about that. 

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