California Town Councilman and high school teacher Gregory Salcido on service members: “dumb $#!*’s, not high level thinkers”

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California Town Councilman and high school teacher Gregory Salcido on service members: “dumb $#!*’s, not high level thinkers”

Well, I saw this little gem on Saturday morning, and could barely wait to come in this morning and introduce the readers to Gregory Salcido.  Mr. Salcido is a history teacher at  El Rancho High and a city councilman in Pico Rivera, in sunny southern California.  Let me start with a warm language warning here, and a mighty trigger warning, because not only does he like to use profanity in teaching his classes, he has some rather…..well, unorthodox beliefs about the men and women currently fighting overseas.

He comes right out of the gate on this video with the quote to end all quotes:

We have a bunch of dumb shits over there.  [Our service members in Iraq and Afghanistan.]  Think about the people that you know over there, your fricken stupid uncle Louie, or whatever, they’re dumb shits.  They’re not like high level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people.  They’re the fricken lowest of our low.”

So yeah, before I even address that little bit of ugliness, let me start with the news report, and then the actual video, which honestly has to be seen (or in this case listened to) to be believed.  From the San Gabriel Valley Times:

Three videos on social media of Pico Rivera Councilman Gregory Salcido, a teacher at El Rancho High School, making disparaging remarks about the military and berating a student for wearing a sweatshirt with a Marines logo have gone viral and created a backlash.

El Rancho Unified School District officials confirmed Saturday, Jan. 27 that the person speaking is Salcido and that the incident took place on school grounds.

“We acknowledge it is his voice based on the research of the incident so far and knowing it came from one of our classrooms,” district Superintendent Karling Aguilera-Fort said in a phone interview.

“We have reached out to Mr. Salcido but have not been able to talk to him because he is out of town,” Aguilera-Fort said.

A subsequent Facebook post by Mr. Salcido came in from New York, where he was evidently attending a musical with his family, wherein he defended himself on the grounds that “I don’t think it’s wise for me to make any specific comments, but I want my friends, family, and students to know we are fine and we respect the rights of free expression for all individuals.”

Ah, yes, the First Amendment Defense.  Unfortunately, you’re not really doing it right.

Here’s the video (again, slight language warning):

OK, let’s start with the uneducated bunch of incompetent boobs line of reasoning championed by Mr. Salcido in his supposed rant furthering the cause of the first amendment.  According to “Face The Facts”, a project of George Washington University:

As a whole, the U.S. military is far better educated than the American population it defends. 82.8 percent of U.S. military officers in 2010 had at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 29.9 percent of the general population. 93.6 percent of enlisted soldiers had at least a high school diploma, compared to 59.5 percent of America.

OK, so maybe they have a higher education level, but they don’t succeed outside the military, right?

Yeah, not so much, as this Business Insider article profiled 15 Top 500 CEOs who got their start in the military:

Few institutions teach discipline, management, logistics, and efficiency like the US Armed Forces, so it's no surprise that Ranker's list of Fortune 500 CEOs finds many military veterans. 

These are the Chief Executive Officers of companies you might have heard of, like Johnson and Johnson, Proctor and Gamble, Casey’s General Store, Walgreens, Viacom, General Motors, Verizon, Foot Locker and Fed Ex.

So, he’s wrong on education level and wrong on success in the outside world.  Empirically wrong.  But most of us knew that anecdotally.   When my unit deployed to Afghanistan, I was in my second year of law school and I volunteered to go.  Not because I had no options, I wanted to serve.  My best friend was also enlisted as an E5 Sergeant, despite his having a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown and working full time at the highest levels of the Pentagon.  A guy I served as an infantryman with in Bosnia was an Air Traffic Controller in civilian life.  I knew other enlisted guys who were lawyers, nurses, school administrators and business leaders.  One of my fellow squad leaders was pursuing a masters in History at Carnegie Mellon.  Maybe my unit was out of the ordinary, but not according to the numbers that GWU has shown above.  Perhaps Mr. Salcido is looking at a different study, but I’d love to see it.

Meanwhile, before he shut his Facebook down to outside comments, it had already amassed 508 comments, ranging from very angry, to defending the teacher, to snark at the situation he finds himself in now.

One comment was noted in the San Gabriel Valley Times that should probably have made me mad (and evidently did make others mad) but just made me giggle:

“This teacher is saying something every parent needs to hear!” wrote someone named Omar Grubbs. “Because no parent should want their kid joining the military. There is so much more in life than signing up to slave away for a country that taxes the poor and not the rich.”

That comment right there has so much wrong with it I’m not even sure where to start.  I have a 2.5 year old daughter, and I dream of her being accepted into the Air Force Academy someday.  To do that, she’ll have to excel all along the way, but that is my dream for her.   I have 5 month old twin boys, and I dream someday that they’ll follow Dad into the Army.  Maybe as infantrymen.  One looks like a ranger already, and the other looks like he could be a sniper.  A bit hard to tell at that age.  But if they come to me and say they’d rather go into music, theater, or (God forbid) politics or the Peace Corps, I would be no less or more proud of them.  The military was a great way of life for me.  I wasn’t a “slave” to a country of people run by some oligarchy; I wasn’t drafted; I went willingly.  As did every single other person I served with.

They say that the Infantry is the lowest of what Mr. Salcido claims is a subset which is already the “lowest of the low.”  Which I guess makes us Grunts the “lowest of the lowest of the low.”  Ok tough guy.  Here’s a list of the Skill Level 1 tasks for an infantryman, which include: first aid, communications, orient a map to the ground by map-terrain association, detect chemical agents, use of night vision devices, search a detainee……it goes on for 9 pages of tasks.

I have nothing against all other occupations, but a history teacher is supposed to remember things from history, and then pass them along.  Our *list* of tasks, to be level 1 is 9 pages long.  If it is so easy, then I would challenge Mr. Salcido to read those tasks, and then see how he can do against a random serviceman or woman on the Expert Infantry Badge Qualification.  We’ll see who the “dumb $#!^’s” are then.

As for his First Amendment defense, I’m not going to even bother going into detail on that one.  He didn’t figure out that teachers can’t just say or do whatever they want the first two times apparently:

In May 2012, he was put on paid administrative leave after the Sheriff’s Department received a complaint that he struck a student.

In July 2010, a parent complained that Salcido had threatened his daughter, made inappropriate comments to his summer school class about race and insulted other students and parents, which Salcido denied.

He was suspended until the following fall’s first day of class.

The over-use of the free speech defense is startling to me.  Apparently some people think it is some sort of panacea or magic wand with which one can extricate oneself from problems by just crying it out loud: “rights of free expression for all individuals” and voila! all the problems are gone.

The First Amendment has limitations, defamation and libel being two obvious ones, but swearing in a classroom with minors, insulting large groups of people in the US and citing “facts” that are most charitably debatable doesn’t automatically get overridden because you say it is protected.  Using that logic, there are any number of things that people would tell their boss on any given day, and then inform the employer that they couldn’t be fired because of the First Amendment.

If you are dumb enough to believe that, you get everything you deserve.  As far as being a councilman (and even former mayor), well, that’s up to the fine people of Pico Rivera, California to decide.  That’s the beauty of living in a representative democracy, vice a slave state envisioned by the Omar Grubbs’ of the world.

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Those that CAN... DO.. Those that CAN'T... teach.

In addition to the empirical argument presented, there is also a logical argument to refute his claims:
Security is the number one need for all organisms – it takes precedence above all other needs at all times (yes, Abraham Maslow was wrong). People die from a lack of security quicker than: 2. a lack of oxygen; 3. a lack of water, or shelter (in cold climates); or 4. a lack of food. That is, a bullet to the brain or a knife to the heart will kill almost instantaneously; people can live without oxygen for a few minutes. Since all people require security and only a few provide security, those who provide security should be revered above all others. They should be our best and most able, in mind and body. Doctors, nurses, and medics enhance internal security, protecting the body from internal destruction. Soldiers and emergency services enhance external security, protecting the body from external destruction. These occupations should be revered above all others. Furthermore, amongst this group, those who risk their own security to provide security should be revered even further and above all. Societies which are rational and possess a healthy ability to logically reason should revere soldiers above and beyond civilian doctors.

This man who is a teacher in El Rancho HS is very wrong. He obviously was never in the military or he would know better. I was accepted into the Air Force at age 17 with no HS diploma. (yes this was allowed in 1961) I went to tech school in Biloxi and was very impressed with their methods of teaching, compared to the public schools I had attended.
The electronic knowledge need to understand the course I was given was very high, but many of us had no such knowledge from our public school education. Nevertheless I saw the Military school methods of imparting such knowledge to be very effective in overcoming the basic lack so many students had. Moreover they were able to instill motivation, which was so rare in Public school. They were able to take virtually any student of any walk of life with any background of education and bring him to a high level of competence in very difficult tasks and job skills. This made them proud of their accomplishments and changed their attitudes toward learning. I had to wonder what I had been missing in public HS and why these methods were not used more in civilian schools. In nine months I had acquired an education equivalent to 4 years in a college electronic engineering degree. We had classes 6 hours per day all week in the core skills and knowledge. This was like taking 6 units in a typical college. We progressed from basic Batteries and D.C. power all the way up to very advance electronics. They broke every concept into small increments that were easily understood by anyone. Every two weeks there was an exam and if you failed, you went back to the beginning and took that two week portion again and again until you mastered it. The rest of the class went on to learn the next increment. This intense and determined process produced may well educated students that were trained and confident. Those few who failed a class too many times were re-assigned to a different course they could handle, until they were placed into a job they were competent in. They were not expelled or flunked out or tossed into the trash, like public schools. I was amazed at these schools and despite being a HS dropout I went on to get my HS degree at a local HS when I got sent to duty station in after graduation. I borrowed from the study methods I had learned and flew through my junior and senior year in just one year, despite working full time at the base. I then went on to college, armed with my new awareness and skills and ended up with a PHD in a well paid profession Thank you to the USAF.


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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.