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Boston: Claremont's 'Jews and Friendly Nazis'

How Beige Was My Valley

Posted: November 27, 2008 7:48 p.m.
Updated: November 28, 2008 4:55 a.m.
"You don't appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little things like being spanked every day by a middle-aged woman: Stuff you pay good money for in later life."
-- Emo Philips

Thanksgiving is already a time of wickedly conflicting recipes - from placing feuding relatives elbow-to-elbow at dinner to seeing how miserable you can make your family by cramming 11 of them and the St. Bernard into the Prius for a 49-hour Death March gridlock commute to Grandma's.

Add to this holiday of mixed messages the fabled Kindergarten Riots in SClarita's sister city of Claremont.

A few mountain ranges away, for 40-some years, two neighboring elementary campuses of Condit and Mountain View have loosely re-enacted the Thanksgiving festival of Plymouth Rock.

"Loosely" is a good word because history gets bent. The first Thanksgiving was most likely in Florida, not Massachusetts. It was held in September 1565, not November 1621.

Historian Robyn Gioia feels the main entree between the Spanish explorers and Timuca tribesmen was - hock, ptooey - bean soup.

Don't tell the children.

The kindergartners from Condit and Mountain View had this perfectly charming tradition. Laboring with rounded scissors, Scotch tape and thick construction paper, kids and parents would build period costumes like Indian vests, feathered headdresses, ankle-length dresses and stern but comic Protestant black hats.

Each year, the classes would trade off and hike the few blocks to the other school to recreate that wonderful ideal of putting aside differences, breaking bread and coming together in friendship and fellowship.

For generations, no one lost an eye, the details of centuries of heinous torture - on both sides - were never brought up, and tons of pumpkin pie filled tiny tummies.

Until last Tuesday.

Michelle Raheja, a Condit kindergartner mom, wrote a note to her daughter's teacher. Ms. Raheja called the Thanksgiving celebration "demeaning."

Momma Raheja, a professor of English at the University of Riverside who dabbles in Indian literature, dashed off a sniffy note to her child's mentor: "I'm sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation's history."

Personally, I found elementary school Homeric-ly boring and would have welcomed a school pageant involving Jews and Friendly Nazis. I'd be the Nazi and I'd enlist the help of my best friend, Phil Lanier, so we could tunnel out in a daring daylight escape.

We'd settle the issue of his being Presbyterian once safely in Switzerland.

Dear Lord, save me from the politically correct sub-committee of The Always Victimized, the person or group whose lower lip precedes them into a room by a quarter of an hour.

Ms. Raheja asked that the four-decade-long tradition be canceled and replaced with, of course, "a public forum to discuss alternative means" to really suck the paint off the walls about dealing with her ancestry, which is reportedly Seneca.

To set the record straight, there were no Cherokees, Iroquois, Huron, Mohawk, Susquehannocks or Adirondacks present at Condit Elm to protest the nasty historical tidbits of the Seneca Indians using their captured ancestors as an early movie-of-the-week to see how many days it would take for them to die while being slowly peeled to death.

Not accepting the hijacking of yet another beloved tradition by the Left, those dreaded white people of Claremont circled the wagons Tuesday outside the school.

They protested the protesters, which included the pursed-lipped Rehaja and a squadron of five - count them, five - of the usual I Am Forever Violated suspects complete with Marks-A-Lots and poster boards - the official food of the television media. (I noted, with amusement, that one media outlet labeled the parents "zealots.")

Interestingly - and with such a welcome breath of life-giving air - the Seneca Nation telegraphed the schools commending them for their traditions and urging them to keep up the November pageant.

Add to the Perfect Media Storm the Claremont Unified School District. The school board immediately sprang into action, with spokeswoman Devon Freitas offering the generic apology for the existence of Western Civilization as she went before TV cameras, made no eye contact and genuflected while blurting: "Out of respect for the Native American heritage, we have asked the children to not dress up."

My. How refreshingly testicle-less.

And if I were not yet sufficiently embarrassed about being white, my worst fears of being seen as a gomer Klansman were realized when non-Indian parents started sending hate mail to Superintendent David Cash, and police had to guard his house.

But a beautiful thing bloomed from this cacophony of the ridiculous.

The parents DID something.

They sent their kids to school dressed up as Pilgrims and Indians anyway.

They marched past the five village idiot protesters.

No pursed-lip administrator shamed them into disrobing.

They held their silly and charming Thanksgiving pageant.

And no one lost an eye.

It gets better.

Some of the parents figured out it's time to send messages to the jaw-grinding passive aggression of our very own government: If the state is done monkeying with our culture, can we have it back?

Will you stop forcing us to worship the one true State Religion: The Lowest, Loudest and Craziest Common Denominator?

Here in the SCV, we don't have Christmas vacation any more. Why? Our schools feel "Christmas" is a dirty word. The city of Santa Clarita's Blessing of the Animals festival was renamed out of fear some bile-swallowing leftist would sue because, in his delirium, his rights were being violated.

Claremont's heroic parents threatened to keep their children out of school - a move that, at $50 a day, could cost the district thousands.

I adore that.

This is the trump card we need the next time some screaming egotistical parent or bottom-feeding ACLU attorney here in Santa Clarita tries to shake down not The System, but Our System.

John Boston has earned 117 major national, regional and California for alleged writing excellence. His column appears Fridays and Sundays.


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