Stay classy, OC!
Local high school students at a recent house party arranged a “rage cage” in the shape of a swastika for a beer pong drinking game, but with Snapchat screenshots of the stupid stunt making the rounds this morning, many folks are expressing outrage! (The teens did “Nazi” see that coming!) In one of the screenshots, they did their best Hitler youth impression by posing around the table with the red cup swastika and while giving the Sieg Heil salute.
Party goers in the now infamous social media snaps have been accused of being Newport Harbor and Costa Mesa High School students. Both campuses belong to the Newport Mesa Unified School District and when reached for comment by the Weekly, district officials didn’t deny it.
“We were recently made aware of social media postings involving some students who created inappropriate anti-semitic symbols, and possible underage drinking,” says Adriana Angulo, a district spokeswoman for Newport Mesa Unified. “While these actions did not occur on any school campus or school function, we condemn all acts of anti-semitism and hate in all their forms.”
Some of the party goers responded to the social media backlash. “I’m deleting social media because I can’t take the criticism for posting one photo,” a girl tweeted. “I did not intend to make anyone upset. It got blown out of proportion.” Another teen offered an apology of sorts over Twitter. “We thought of this as a joke because in out [sic] heads we don’t think of it as a big deal but when it gets blown up like this it makes us think and we realize it was terrible and we apologize.”
Despite the professed remorse, the same student only dug himself in deeper by responding, “To us it’s like the “n” word where it doesn’t mean slavery it’s a way to address people and now the holocaust is the new n word and it’s sad but it’s the truth.”
Um, no. Expressions of remorse aside, the district pledges to take action.
“We continue to gather information regarding the conduct of these students and work with law enforcement,” Angulo adds. “We remain focused on educating students on all aspects of life’s challenges and are committed to holding students accountable, educating them on the consequences of their choices, and the impact these actions have on our schools and community at large. We are asking that parents please partner with us in helping students make good decisions, be respectful of others, and to always use good judgment.”
The controversy even reached the House of Representatives with OC congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) issuing a strong statement in response.
“I condemn the devastating and shocking anti-Semitism on display by local students this weekend,” Porter’s statement reads. “The use of such a harmful symbol, which represents the genocide of the Jewish people, is an act of aggression and hate that has no place in our vibrant, diverse and welcoming community. I call on local parents and community leaders to redouble our efforts to educate these young people about the oppression of, and violence against, Jewish people worldwide, and ensure that acts like these never happen again.”
As far as Newport Harbor goes, racial tensions on campus simmered over the presidential campaign of Donald Trump in 2016. Administrators originally barred students from wearing “Dump Trump” shirts to school before allowing them. Other students scrawled pro-Trump and xenophobic messages on walls. Orange County Human Relations, through its Bridges program, sought to diffuse tensions and are on hand to help with the current swastika controversy.
“Definitely, we were made aware of this from multiple sources throughout the day today,” Alison Edwards, CEO of OC Human Relations, tells the Weekly. “We will offer our support to the schools involved to help address this as needed on campus. It would be my hope that this is an opportunity for these communities to come out and show their support for a safe and inclusive community where all people are welcomed and images and actions like this are not acceptable.”
An annual hate crimes report put out by the human relations commission last year noted antisemitic hate crimes, including swastika vandalism incidents, rose significantly in 2017.
Updated with Porter’s statement.
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!