Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Giant Gesture Of Fear

"They're scared of the Mexicans," said a long-time friend.

He grew up on Chicago's North Shore and was sent to a Catholic college prep school because Highland Park High School didn't meet his parents' strict standards. It's the Jesuits who mold young men, not a gaggle of ex-hippies and dreamers.

"They were scared of the Italian kids," he added.

Some of his friends were Giants back in the day. Their lockers were grouped together in a hallway that they called 'Skid Row'. Highland Park students didn't walk there.

They were scared of the Irish kids as well, back when the Ft. Sheridan army base attracted the 'wrong sort'. Drinking, gambling, fighting....definitely Not Our Kind in the eyes of the well-to-do Highland Parkers.

First came the Irish, the manual laborers who did the back-breaking work that native born Americans didn't want to do. On their heels came the Italians, fleeing Mussolini's version of fascism and willing to tackle the most menial of jobs because it was better than anything they'd left behind in Italy.

Today it's the Mexicans, escaping from an impoverished country that offers them no hope for advancement. They're willing to do all the work that the Irish and the Italians did when they first arrived in America. Once it was Paddy on the railroad. Now it's Manuel digging ditches.

The well-heeled of Highland Park feared the Irish, then the Italians, and now the Mexicans. Afraid to anger them, because you just never know when violent people known to fight and kill with impunity might take a notion to murder every Giant in their beds.

"The basketball team's trip got cancelled because the administration is scared shitless," he concluded. "Don't want to offend the Mexicans in case the Hispanic kids start a riot."

What of the children of sailors and marines whose parents are housed at Ft. Sheridan? Wouldn't there be some concern that they would take offense?

The bureaucrats who made the unilateral decision to screw the girl's basketball team aren't afraid of the military brats. They're scared of the Mexicans.

So much has changed in education over the years. It's good to know that racism, bigotry and prejudice are in full bloom at Highland Park High School. The blue-collar kids are still finding discrimination disguised as concern for their welfare.

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