Are Pro-Immigration Activists Against Free Speech?

While it would appear that the recent student protests around Los Angeles (and the country) have been a great exercise in the use of our right to free speech, one Mira Loma High School decided to censor some students with contrary views.

Josh Denhalter, 17, said he was fed up with MEChA students waving Mexican flags on campus, and asked his principal for permission to stage a quiet counter message, and to pass out 300 fliers to announce the Friday noon hour event. The principal consulted district superintendent Elliott Duchon, who refused permission, fearing violence. The Jurupa Valley HS is two-thirds Hispanic and one third Caucasian. (from Mayor Sam)

Josh went ahead with his protest, and was subsequently suspended. (life lesson: sometimes its better to ask for forgiveness than permission) Additionally, Josh was also called a racist for having an anti-illegal immigrant view… yet another double standard, and an issue that I think is keeping a number of average Angelenos from openly debating their concerns regarding illegal immigration.

Last week on CNN, correspondent Lisa Sylvester said:

Critics say Mexico has a double standard. At the same time it wants to help decide U.S. domestic policy, its own constitution forbids meddling from outsiders. “Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.” Mexico’s constitution also explicitly says Mexicans will be given preferential treatment over foreigners when it comes to granting employment, concessions and benefits. So Mexico recognizes the rights of its native-born citizens, but in many ways is asking the United States not to do the same

Sylvester follows up by pointing out, but not elaborating, that while Mexico pushes for easy access to the United States, they are “notoriously strict about enforcing its border with its own southern neighbors.”

Does this make Mexico officially racist, or merely protective of its own citizens? And if the latter, why do so many lower themselves to calling Americans against illegal immigration “racists” or “bigots”? Or is this just cheap attempt at keeping people with concerns regarding illegal aliens silent?

16 thoughts on “Are Pro-Immigration Activists Against Free Speech?”

  1. Perhaps they are trying to avoid the same problems this caused at a Colorado highschool. From The Associated Press:

    “Skyline High School Principal Tom Stumpf said American flags were brazenly waved in the faces of Hispanic students and in one case a Mexican flag was thrown into the face of another student.

    “When it involves the American flag and its abuse in vilifying other people, we simply will not tolerate it,” Stumpf said. “They were using the symbol derisively as misguided patriotism.”

    Link to full article:

  2. The principal consulted district superintendent Elliott Duchon, who refused permission, fearing violence.

    While I don’t agree with Duchon’s decision, it doesn’t sound like quashing Denhalter’s message was the goal. It also seems unfair to characterize Duchon as a “pro-immigration activist” or suggest that a decision that he made in his capacity as a school superintendent indicates that pro-immigration activists are against free speech.

    I think the point that’s buried in there is worth some debate, but you specious logic isn’t helping you.

  3. I tend to get a little upset with the double standard that has been set for minorities. There are always groups for African Americas, Latino/as, Asians, etc., but if someone ever created a group, scholarship, or whatever for Caucasians, there would be an instant jump at the creator for being racist. There was an article in the New York Times a few years back about a Caucasian college student that started a scholarship for Caucasians only, and it created quite an uproar. I’m not saying anything against minority groups at all here. I’m just saying that if we have groups that advocate unity for one race, we should be able to have them for all.

  4. Special groups for minorities? Oh get over yourself.

    Here’s something to consider. Think about your professional relationships. Or your school day. Think about what fraction of the people that you interact with are the same race as you. The same basic cultural background as you. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of your interactions will be with people like you.

    Groups like the Black Students Association, or Mecha or whatever are at least partially about giving their members a chance to not have to be models to people outside their ethnic groups. To spend time in a group which is mostly people like them. To have the experience that you don’t even think about because it’s your normative state of being.

    And there are plenty of white ethnic scholarships around as well. But as the ethnic groups become part of the mainstream, the need for them disappears. I went to school with a scholarship for Slovenians (along with a whole pile of other scholarships). On the other hand, there’s just not a whole lot of need for waspy people to have special scholarships, which is why they’re not there. The Slovene scholarship that I had will probably not exist when I have college-age kids for similar reasons.

  5. Amanda,
    I’ve heard of such groups. They’re called sororities and fraternities. Just kidding.

    I know nowadays a lot of traditional sororities and fraternities (not including black and Latino Greeks)
    welcome students of various races and ethnicities, but that was not always the case.

    I think the reason why there are calls of racism and bigotry is because they are indeed evident in this so-called debate around immigration and reform. I’ve been told to “go back to Mexico” here at and have read comments in discussion threads saying that the people of Mexico have an IQ of zero. Also, this “debate” has been framed solely as something about Mexican immigrants while little is discussed about the fact that Mexicans make up less than 60% (yes, I know that’s still a majority) of undocumented immigrants.

    I’ve read and heard plenty of racist remarks this past week. Forgive me if I’m a little on edge about this.

  6. The day white people stand up en masse and give up the privileges they enjoy just for being born one color, is the day minorities will not need to struggle for their rights and form groups for support. White people have a special support group, it’s called mainstream society. While you may not have taken advantage of it, that’s probably your fault, Lord knows you had advantages a black or hispanic kid did not. Now obviously a rich black kid and a poor white kid are born into totally different world, but that’s just a tiny % of people– we’re talking about the country as a whole, and it’s a country where 150 years ago there were slaves, 100 years ago there was lynching, 50 years ago there were separate bathrooms, and currently it’s harder to get a job, apartment, credit, and a break if you are not white. I am sick of seeing people be crybabies because mexicans or blacks or chinese people get ‘special’ rights such as forming clubs or protesting in the streets against racism and xenophobia.

    I am talking about some comments here and elsewhere– this post I think is mostly right. The school should allow an open expression and debate, and if they are afraid of violence they need to ask themselves what aren’t they doing right in terms of education, enforcement, etc. that would lead to violence.

    As for Mexico being racist, well I think every country is racist. US probably the least in some ways, because we are dealing with these problems every day, and allowing people (like the protestors, of which I was a proud member) to express their views even if they are in the minority and even if mainstream Anglo society calls them wetback or to get out of “their country” even though most of us were born here. BUT, I also think you have to work on the rich countries first. Rich countries like the US have the freedom, the ability, and the leisure to think about social issues like racism. When your population spends most of its time trying to feed their families, taking time out to think about the ‘plight’ of Anglo minorities who might want to work in Mexico is a luxury. The US needs to deal with its own problems before comparing itself to a nation which has 1/000000000th the wealth and social development.

    It seems to be a common Anglo ploy when confronted with its own crimes and racism to say, well, look over there! They are just as bad. Actually I take that back, that’s a human ploy, race has nothing to do with it. But when you’re on top of the mountain, you have to be willing to take some heat.

  7. Just what is a minority these days anyway? Isn’t it really just a group of people that haven’t succeeded economically en masse? I mean, I doubt that you could said today that Americans from Indian (from Asia), Korea, Japan, Italy, Germany, and Ireland suffer much from racism and discrimination, even though they did at one point in history.

  8. I think that white mainstream society (because mainstream society is, let’s face it, an anglo construction, and is only recently fracturing & changing) needs to make allowances for the fact that it’s dominated traditionally-defined “minority” cultures. That is, ethnic groups who’ve been oppressed in the past should have special allowances made in the present.

    I think this not because it is “fair” (by definition, it isn’t) but because it’s just.

    When allaowances have been made in the past for minority groups those groups gained rights and respect in the dominant culture: today, for example, in most places throughout the U.S. it would be considered unthinkable or bigoted to tell a black individual that they shouldn’t go to a school largely attended by whites, or to tell a woman to be quiet and know her place. These changes were made possible by small changes that many saw as “unfair” or “special treatment” a long time ago.

    We slowly re-make what is acceptable and create a world that respects everyone equally. We may never get there completely, but we’re on our way.

  9. 5000!: The point is that one student was suspended because he had a less popular view… regardless of where the Principal stood on the issue, the pro-illegal protesters frightened him enough to restrict the voice of someone with a contrary view. If this isn’t an attack on free speech, please let me know.

    CindyLu: There is some degree of racism and prejudice in the debate, but to characterize all or most people who are against illegal immigration is, quite bluntly, hippocritical.

    I would like to see where you found the figure of Mexican immigrants making up for only 60% of illegals… and if this is true, how many immigrants make there way in via illegal border crossings, regardless of their country of origin?

    Arturro: My belief is not that Mexico is not racist, they just believe that people who are legal citizens of their own country should be taken care of more than citizens of any other country. Makes sense to me.

    Lucinda: I’m opposed to most affirmative action programs, but I agree with your view in why they might be needed.

    And to everyone: Thanks for posting and keeping this civil and exercising your right to speak your mind without trying to keep others from exercising theirs.

  10. David,
    The source is from a report written by Jeffrey Passel, a leading demographer on undocumented immigration. You can find a link to the report here. I have not said that all people against undocumented immigration are racist.

    I’ve never stated that all people against undocumented immigration are racists. I just stated that racism and bigotry are part of the discussion and you can’t deny that.

  11. David, I think you meant HYPOcritical. Hippocritical just sounds like you’re accusing CindyLu of being impossible to please when it comes to hippos. ;)

  12. 5000!: The point is that one student was suspended because he had a less popular view… regardless of where the Principal stood on the issue, the pro-illegal protesters frightened him enough to restrict the voice of someone with a contrary view. If this isn’t an attack on free speech, please let me know.

    I understand your interpretation of the situation, but it’s still not an attack on free speech. Denhalter wasn’t suspended because he had a less popular view, he was suspended for, supposedly, violating some sort of school policy. And even if the Superintendent (not the Principal) made her decision based on her fear of the pro-immigration participants’ possible reactions, it doesn’t mean that pro-immigration protestors are against free speech. I don’t see any evidence that any of the pro-immigration contigent exerted any kind of pressure on Duchon. You’re holding the pro-immigration protestors responsible for the superintendent’s actions, a person whose stand on immigration you have no knowledge of.

    Most simply, your logic is “The superintendent decided to suspend a student because of her fear of violence, therefore pro-immigration protestors are against free speech.” That’s full of holes.

    Which is possibly a moot point, because according to Superintendent Duchon they never denied a request for a rally in the first place:

    As for what “pro-illegal” protesters think about free speech, all anybody had to do was ask them

    Those across the street agreed that he should be able to voice his opinion.

    “It’s wonderful that (Denhalter) is trying to explore his right to protest, and unfortunate that the school didn’t allow it,” said Gutierrez, of the Southern California Human Rights Network.

  13. Yeah man that is some fucked up shit… when I was in high school me and my homies tried to do a “Kick out the mexicans / White power” march and the darn admins said no way. The nerve some people have!

    I mean what is wrong with a little white pride? As long as everyone remembers that it isn’t just about being proud that you’re white, it is also about hating all the non-whites.

    All jokes aside, the reason there is no reason to preach to the choir. The whole point of the original protest is that there is a bill threatening the well being of millions of undocumented workers. If there was a law that would make 13 million pasty white folks felons then I can see a reason for said people to protest.

  14. In other news (please forgive me for my typo-ridden post above) Michele Malkin spews her ignorant, fact lacking vitriol all over opinion pages everywhere about how the protesters were actually whitewashed racists.

  15. >>If there was a law that would make 13 million pasty white folks felons then I can see a reason for said people to protest.

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