What’s the difference between a crisis and an embarrassment?
Well, if it’s you that’s involved, it’s a crisis. If it’s someone else, it’s an embarrassment.
We’re referring to the situation at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, which you’ve probably read or heard about. If you’ve been on a news fast for the last week or so, the Daily Beast news site posted an article and video about a group of PHS students who held an unsupervised off-campus performance involving Nazi-style salutes and the singing – rather badly – of a World War II-era German marching song.
Under-reaction was followed by over-reaction. PHS administrators knew about the November 2018 incident, but apparently didn’t inform the folks at the district office, who were blindsided by the national uproar.
The media coverage that followed, exacerbated by some hysterical social media posts, might lead some people to think that PHS was some sort of hotbed of Nazis who paraded around in brown shirts at lunch and who took down portraits of Washington and Jefferson and replaced them with images of Hitler and Himmler.
Let’s get a grip on reality. We’re talking about a handful of teenage boys who did a dumb thing and made the mistake of letting someone make a video record of it. If you watch the video – it’s available in many places – the incident includes at least one kid walking out and at least one other giggling.
We don’t have any inside information about what happened that evening, but here’s our surmise based on having been teenagers at some point. Some ignorant kids spent too much time watching the History Channel. They decided to play a prank. Some other kids went along to see what would happen. That’s it.
Was it grossly insensitive and thoughtless? Insulting and dumb?
You bet. But to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if you got rid of insensitive teenage boys you wouldn’t have many boys left. That’s what hormone-addled teenage boys do.
On Facebook, some parents wrung their hands about the prospect of sending their kids off to the Fatherland at Lampson and Knott. Oh, no, how could this happen? What’s gone wrong? Oh my!
Again, get a grip. Pacifica is an excellent school that’s no more pro-Nazi than you are. There’s more danger there from traffic jams at Lamplighter Street at pickup time than from neo-Nazi nimrods.
The next dumb thing will happen somewhere else and “this” will be scrubbed from the news cycle. People will find new things to wring their hands over. Embarrassing, yes, but that’s what happens in life.
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