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The Reconquista In Small-Town America
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May 16, 2003, 05:00 AM
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A microcosm of the National Question struggle in Lodi, CA!

Last week, your valiant correspondent (me) slugged out ten championship rounds with an irritable reporter, two angry school teachers and a couple of slippery Hispanic agitators disguised as local Tokay High School teachers.

I am happy to report that I emerged unscarred - and my reputation as a teller of the unvarnished truth is not only intact, but also enhanced.

At the storm`s center were the two columns (View from Lodi, CA: Abolishing America – In The Classroom) and (View from Lodi, CA: Band-Aid Programs Overwhelmed By Immigration) that I wrote for the Lodi News-Sentinel about the Latino Family Literacy class in here in Lodi, CA.

To begin with, I got an e-mail from the reporter who wrote the original story. He called me "ignorant" and "racist." And he followed that up with another e-mail with more snide remarks.

I`m not sure what constitutes proper newsroom etiquette. I have never worked in a newspaper office. Perhaps it is perfectly acceptable to hurl insults at colleagues whom you have never met when you have differences of opinion.

It really enhances your day to be called "racist," "ignorant," "xenophobe," "nativist," and "hate monger." As it turned out, that was only a glancing blow in the weeklong battle. Those zingers were an omen of things to come.

Next, the Lodi News-Sentinel published a letter from the Latino Family Literacy teachers headlined "Teachers Defend Project for Latino Family Literacy."

I am glad that the instructors support their program. I certainly want teachers to be behind their school and its activities.

As I have written before, teachers have a tough job. For the senior teachers, the multilingual classes are not the gig that they originally signed up for. And for new teachers, the demands of non-English speaking children and their parents are often too much.

I was disappointed—but not surprised—that the teachers suggested that adult school classes would be more popular if I were a better teacher. The personal attack is as predictable and tedious as the "racist" charge.

But the reality is that whoever the teacher, whatever the year, wherever the site, the Adult classes are not as well attended as they should be vis-à-vis the enormous growth in the non-English speaking population in Lodi.

Are all the Adult Ed teachers incompetent?

The further truth is that only twice have classes been full: when attendance was mandatory to get a green card and mandatory to receive welfare benefits.

But the teachers really didn`t address my column. Is Latino Family Literacy another special program for non-English speakers?

Can any real learning take place in a class that meets once a week for two hours over ten-weeks - period?

The answers are yes, it is and no, it can`t.

Latino Family Literacy got two further endorsements, from Rosa Maria Casillas (Guzzardi writes another damaging column) and on from Julio Hernandez (Responding to Guzzardi)

Neither one had anything good to say about me: anti-immigrant, lousy teacher, biased, ignorant, prejudice, hateful, etc.

Hernandez challenged me "to be a man" and reveal my true monstrous self. He`s apparently in some kind of macho overdrive.

A casual reader might conclude that Casillas and Hernandez are two local Hispanic residents who take offense at what they perceive to be slights against Mexicans.

But Casillas and Hernandez are much more than that. In the first place, they are husband and wife. I suspect that the newspaper would have been less inclined to print two such similar letters had it known they were from the same family.

But of much, much greater significance, Casillas is currently the Tokay High School faculty advisor to MEChA, the "Movimiento Estudiantíl Chicano de Aztlán," (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan), the goal of which is the secession of the Southwest U.S.A. ("Aztlan.")

The faculty advisor prior to Casillas was—you guessed it, Hernandez.

MEChA motto: "Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada" "Everything for the Race - Nothing outside the Race."

When you have written columns for 15 years urging common sense in immigration policy, you develop a thick skin toward harsh and often vicious mail. And as in this case, the damning letters rarely touch on the central themes of my columns.

All of the mail I received referred to my first article, "Abolishing America—In the Classroom." No one wrote a word of complaint about my second piece, "Band-Aid Programs Overwhelmed by Immigration." Maybe that`s because I used statistics from the California State Department of Education to prove non-English speakers overwhelm schools.

It`s real tough to argue with those "hate facts."

The real kicker regarding all the fuss is that I wasn`t even firing with both barrels. According to its website, Latino Family Literacy is a for-profit organization. The costs that the school must absorb are significant—especially in this era of severe across the board cuts at the Lodi Unified School District.

Microcosmic moral:  the abolish-America lobby always has not just its snout but its front trotters in the public trough.

And if you dare to criticize, it will squeal.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.