The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Save Our State protests best fought with a cold shoulder

No one can stop Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise from “being in love.” That press-happy love stunt is an unstoppable machine that has the support of Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Studios, DreamWorks and Mr. Top Gun himself.

Anti-immigration protests on the other hand — perhaps that is an area where we can more seriously draw a line on publicity stunts and declare, “Enough is enough!”

Save Our State, a grass roots organization from Ventura County, has devoted a lot of its time recently to protesting a public art display in Baldwin Park called “Danza Indigenas.”

The main bone of contention is that the tax-supported display features engravings that Save Our State believes are anti-American — for instance, “It was better before they came” and “This land was Mexican once, was Indian and always is, and will be again.”

The group has staged a series of protests in Baldwin Park to express its outrage. Like clockwork, counter-protesters have been summoned, and ridiculously predictable nonsense ensues.

“They are individuals full of hate,” say the counter-protesters at the rally in Baldwin Park. “It’s a full-scale soft invasion (of the U.S.),” says Save Our State. Yawn.

I yawn for a variety of reasons, least of which is the fact that I think Save Our State is simply a ridiculous organization.

First, the artist of “Danza Indigenas” has publicly announced that the line “It was better before they came” actually refers to “jeers directed at Mexican immigrants who began moving into Baldwin Park after World War II,” according to a Los Angeles Times report on the most recent protest.

So, in essence, Save Our State has an objection to a piece of art –one that says Mexicans think Southern California was better before white people –that the artist herself says doesn’t exist. As the very positive trend of Latino pride sweeps across this city following the election of Latino leaders to almost every high-ranking city office, I don’t think the artist really needs to lie. That’d be quite a bluff.

And besides, I am only allowed to get upset about what President George W. Bush actually does, not what I think he might have done, as easy as that would be.

Without the line about it being “better before they came”, the one about the land “being Mexican once” isn’t too startling.

Second, Save Our State has made no secret of its intentions in Baldwin Park. Leaders have said repeatedly that their aim is to make the protests/counter-protests as expensive as possible for Baldwin Park in hopes of draining the city’s coffers and getting some not-so deserved attention.

The 60 Save Our State protesters who showed up at the Baldwin Park site June 25 were met by nearly 600 counter-protesters and swarms of police.

But nothing happened.

The Los Angeles Times headline for the story read: “Immigration protest in Baldwin Park is peaceful.” Even still, police from Glendale and Pomona joined Baldwin Park police to prepare for a potentially massive race-related protest-happy riot, costing the city thousands of dollars in safety personnel and administration.

A lot of the same people who are trying to conserve and protect their communities from the “threat” of unregulated immigration probably believe in the autonomy of their own communities, and probably think that no federal agency has the right to interfere with how community leaders focus that community’s agenda.

But what’s tricky is when those people try to interfere with another autonomous community, such as when Ventura County interferes with Baldwin Park. Groups like Save Our State make me not take seriously the concerns of community leaders in small towns that really, really, really want intelligent design taught in their school districts, as their position on how autonomous a small community should be is muddled.

But that’s neither here nor there.

The real way to fix the problems of goofily staged and factually illogical “protests” in Baldwin Park involves the police, the counter-protests and the news media.

Save Our State says all it wants is attention and to drain police resources?

Then I think the police and counter-protesters should make a deal: nobody should show up. Without the 600 counter-protesters and scores of police personnel, 60 people huddled around an art display at a Metrolink stop simply isn’t very attention grabbing. In a city likeBaldwinPark, which sports a 75 percent Latino population, it’s doubtful that anyone will mind if a deal is cut to keep the Save Our State folks out for good.

The counter-protesters should then call the L.A. Times and let them know that nobody from their side will be showing up for the next one.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing for a group of people –in this case, predominantly white people from Ventura County — to be concerned about something affecting their community. Impromptu criticisms involving xenophobia and racism are sometimes lobbed unfairly at Save Our State. Maybe they are justifiably concerned. Whatever.

But if they want to reduce themselves to cheap parlor tricks and protests based more out of signage than out of actual policy reform, Baldwin Park should retaliate by not moving a muscle and watching Save Our State make its point…to nobody.

Now that’d be newsworthy.

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