Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Daniel Cubias Headshot

A Field Guide to Bad Behavior at Political Protests

Posted: Updated:

Just to be clear, nobody should yell "Nazi" at people unless there are, you know, actual Nazis present.

I make this clarification not just because it's the truth, but because so many people have recently had their sensibilities offended during the arduous debate over immigration.

Judging from reader comments to several of my posts, it is not illegal immigrants and their supporters who have been slandered. No, this coalition of liberals and minimum-wage workers -- outnumbered by at least two to one in many opinion polls -- are the aggressors.

Yes, the "Nazi" label has apparently been tossed at people who support laws such as SB 1070. Now, even if you're in a privileged position of economic power and numerical supremacy, and the person yelling it is near society's bottom rung, that's got to sting (although it would be nice to acknowledge that dynamic).

For the sake of argument, let's call it even, and forget about all the racial slurs and threatening vitriol aimed at illegal immigrants. We'll also let it go that much of people's defensiveness ("I am not a fascist!") is just the attempt to counter-attack uncomfortable accusations of racism.

It's impossible to measure how many individuals on each side are acting like lunatics and to what degree. So let's just call it unsightly all around.

However, I would ask that if you send me hyperbolic emails detailing crazed behavior by illegal immigrants, as one person did, that you at least keep it timely.

You see, I recently received a forward about the Montebello flag-raising incident. If you don't recall, some Latino teenagers in California got out of hand during a demonstration. They raised the Mexican flag, and hung the American flag beneath it, upside-down.

It's certainly a striking image. Perhaps that's why it's still flying around the internet as proof of a Latino insurrection, despite the fact that it happened in 2006.

Now, it would seem to me that if nothing more egregious than raising a flag has happened in the last four years, then the Hispanic overthrow of our government is not quite the threat the right wing is presenting.

At the risk of becoming defensive myself, I'd like to bring up an image from a demonstration that resonated with me. Granted, the protest was about health care, not immigration, but it at least occurred within the last year or so.

You may have seen this gentleman, and others like him. They believed it was a good idea to carry assault rifles to venues where President Obama was speaking.

The response from conservatives was praise and the usual pontificating about Second Amendment rights.

So if we're keeping track: A bunch of unruly teenagers come up with a tacky way to protest, and it becomes a horrifying sign of revolution. However, grown men show up with firearms in a clear attempt to terrify their political foes, and it is a sign of patriotism.

The kids were disciplined for their idiotic prank. The guys with guns, however, went about their lives just fine, with the biggest burden probably the hassle of digging through the fan mail they received.

I could also point out that many of those teens have been told, sometimes overtly, that they are subhumans who have no rights. This is contrast to the adults with guns, who tend to be at the top of the American pecking order. They should also be -- and let me phrase this delicately -- old enough to know better.

So by all means, if the emotional response of teenagers is more of a threat to you than the aggressive tactics of adults, make your case. The odds are, however, that you will lose that competition.