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My family and I had a grand time yesterday celebrating the 4th of July in our quiet little community of Claremont, nestled against the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in eastern Los Angeles County. The day began in the relative cool of the morning, with a 5K run through the village and the colleges, followed by a pancake breakfast and carnival in Memorial Park. At 4:00 pm, with the temperature now hovering around 100 degrees, the annual parade ambled sporadically down the tree lined Indian Hill Blvd.

The parade was replete with hundreds of kids riding patriotically decorated scooters and bikes, or being pulled by their proud but sweaty parents in similarly adorned wagons. There were shiny law enforcement and emergency response vehicles exercising their sirens, veterans, local politicians, troops of Boy and Girl Scouts, the high school marching band, junior cheer and all star teams, Pilgrim Place pacifists with "end this endless war" signs and an international association carrying flags from about a dozen nations reminding us that America is a melting pot of immigrants. There was a contingent of Democratic Party activists highlighting with banners the three pillars of the social contract: Social Security, Medicare and the ACA. There were no Republican Party entries this year. They usually have at least a token presence, even though Claremont is known as the "City of Trees and PhD's," a bastion of lefties, where overt displays of Republicanism traditionally receive a tepid response at best.

And there were a lot of American flags. Hand held flags. Flags shimmering furtively from handle bars and bicycle helmets. Flags draped along the sides of floats and pick up trucks. Flag print top hats and shirts. Bermuda shorts. Socks and shoes and probably underwear too. Red, white and blue streamers meticulously woven through bicycle spokes. There were a lot of American flags. Joyous.

After all that we walked home to eat barbequed hamburgers, corn on the cob and cool off, in anticipation of the fireworks show to come at 9:00 pm.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of flag waving about an hour south of us in Murrieta. But this was a different kind of flag waving. I saw footage on the T.V. news as we were preparing dinner. It was not the joyous flag waving of celebration we had just witnessed in the Village. It was angry flag waving; the kind false patriots use to establish their credentials and hide their ignorance, hatred and fear.

On Tuesday, apparently inspired by their Mayor, Alan Long, about 150 of them chanting "Go home" and "We want to be safe" had successfully blocked three Homeland Security buses carrying mostly undocumented Central American women and children who had been flown to California from Texas for processing. They had signs too. Signs that said "Stop Illegal Immigration" and "Illegals Out."

A news release sent out by city officials on Monday stated that Long and the Riverside County city objected to the immigrants’ transfer.
“This is a failure to enforce federal law at the federal level,” Long said in the release.
But after Tuesday’s event, Murrieta City Manager Rick Dudley sent out another message to the community, saying Long’s original comments had been misinterpreted.
Yesterday, counter protesters also showed up and tensions were high. Someone had torn up plastic flags that had been hung on a chain link fence. A distraught "patriot" was shown holding the shredded remains of one flag while another woman unashamedly took credit for the deed symbolically expressing her disdain for the way the immigrants were being treated.

I turned off the T.V. and we all ate our cheeseburgers in the yard. We walked the four or five blocks to watch the city fireworks display at Pomona College. I'd guess about 4,000 to 5,000 people packed the track and field stadium, but it could have been more.

A local band was skillfully belting out note-for-note covers of vintage rock hits. My mood had been fouled by the news about the immigration protests and I made a snarky comment to my 19 year old daughter that they were "just another cover band." I'm a musician and am sympathetic to the trap that these talented musicians found themselves in. I first heard them in the 1990's when I was new to the Claremont area and they were basically still doing the same show. That's what people want. Something familiar. People know what they like because they like what they know.

Then there was a rendition of The Star Spangled Banner sung by the very nervous winner of the High School National Anthem contest. She had been in the parade. She was probably a very solid contestant but singing in front of a stadium full of thousands of mostly local citizens laid bare her youth and inexperience; her voice cracked and she ran short of breath on a couple of phrases, but to her credit she stayed in tune and nailed the climatic last high note. Good for her!

The fireworks were spectacular and very loud. They exploded triumphantly to a sound track of typical patriotic chestnuts like Souza's "Stars and Stripes Forever," Springsteen's "Born in the USA," Ray Charles' soulful "America the Beautiful," and Katy Perry's optimistic "Firework." I pointed out to my daughter how good Ray Charles was and she asked "but isn't this just a cover song?" I explained that what Charles did with "America" was a unique rendition and not a note-for-note cover. I told her that his version was so good that other musicians would be hard pressed to do an even half-way decent cover. She got it.

By the time the show was reaching its end I thought to myself how great it was that the program had not included my all time least favorite anthem of forced patriotic sentiment, "Proud to be an American," by Lee Greenwood. But, alas, the penultimate number was, you guessed it, "Proud to be an American."

If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I'd thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can't take that away.

And I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.
And I'd gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today.
‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land God bless the U.S.A.


It brought my thoughts back to the protesters in Murrieta. I'm pretty sure that this would be their favorite patriotic song, perhaps only trumped by the "Star Spangled Banner."

So when we got home I opened a beer and turned on the news. There was more on the Murrieta story and I couldn't help but reflect on the stark contrasts of the day. The cynical way the Mayor stirred up the fear of the citizens of his city and how the protesters used the American flag to say get lost. How different was the sentiment and symbolism of the flag waving here at home. The positive, welcoming messages and the celebration of inclusion, rather than exclusion, embodied in our parade, and probably most parades around the country, are what patriotism is really about. What a shame that a few soured souls in Murrieta chose to rain on our parade.

Originally posted to Doctor Jazz on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 12:13 AM PDT.

Also republished by PostHuffPost: Connection-Conversation-Community and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the diary (8+ / 0-)

    The nativist antics in Murrieta are distressing.

    I was down the street at Norm's eating dinner while you were watching the fireworks in Claremont.

    Los Angeles Kossacks is planning a possible meet-up in Claremont Village on a Saturday this summer, possibly at Walter's.  If you are interested, I'll let you know the details.

    Iron sharpens Iron. Normal is a dryer setting. STOP illegal immigration NOW! -- Make it LEGAL. If Corporations are People--Let's draft them.

    by benamery21 on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 02:46:01 AM PDT

  •  Lee Greenwood makes me cringe (8+ / 0-)

    I spent a career in the military, and heard "Proud to be an American" at more military functions than I care to remember.  It's the magnetic "Support our troops" bumper sticker of music.

    If atheism is a religion, then "off" is a TV channel.

    by DaveinBremerton on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 08:00:20 AM PDT

  •  I wish more Progressives... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    edg, susans, Shifty18

    ...would look at the impact immigration has on America.

    There are millions of kids graduating from college who are the first in their family to get a degree. But instead of getting a good job, they must compete with wage-loweing H1-B visas and "DREAMers".

    It's a real stab in the back for families, many descended from slaves, who are just beginning to make it in America. The youth who turned out for Progressives in 2008 and 2012 must feel especially betrayed.

    There are also millions of unskilled American workers. The "recovery" has passed them by. Now to add insult to injury, many "Progressives" advocate bringing millions of low-wage workers in to depress their job prospects even further.

    I know that there are studies claiming that immigration helps, "GDP" or "the economy". But if you take a hard look at the numbers, the gains go to those who hire immigrants. The pains go to workers who compete with immigrants.

    There are serious foreign policy and humanitarian reasons behind various immigration proposals. But as Progressives, we should not forget the serious economic hardship immigration imposes on the young, the poor, and the unskilled.

    I say that if the Koch Brothers need a nanny, a roofer, or a IT helpdesk professional, they should hire an American first. They do not have a right to cheap labor.

    Anyone proposing immigration reform should be made to explain how they plan to reduce the negative impact immigrants have on wages and on poor Americans.

    •  Interesting comment. (4+ / 0-)

      I'll give you credit for speaking your mind and advocating for workers. Of course, you're likely to get HR-ed for expressing your viewpoint and going against prevailing dogma but thanks for contributing to the discussion.

      Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters. -- President Grover Cleveland, 1888

      by edg on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 10:34:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It would be nice if you provided some links (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      susans, ManhattanMan, Doctor Jazz

      Legal immigration does not equal cheap labor, but undocumented immigrants do because they have become a shadow workforce.

      Legal immigrants get the same, all be it weak, workplace protections that natural born citizens do. We all compete on the same playing field. I'm bristling at your nationalistic tone that "immigrants take away jobs from real Americans".

      I do agree that any kind of immigration reform needs to include enforcement on the employer side. But immigration as a whole is beneficial to our country. And being that almost all of us are descended from immigrants, I find it very arrogant to shut the door behind you.

      Mediocrity cannot know excellence ~ Sherlock Holmes

      by La Gitane on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 10:48:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well... (6+ / 0-)

        he's talking about immigration reform which, as I understand it, always involves finding ways to allow more people to come and get established legally. You're 100% correct about the shadow market but, even at minimum wage, you're diluting the labor pool which keeps wages low.

        On the other hand, he's talking about the impact this immigration is having on college graduates. There it seems that the H1-B program is where those people are being put at a competitive disadvantage, since the types of immigrants crossing the border illegally, basically as refugees of one sort or another, aren't likely to be taking away jobs that a college graduate is hoping for.

        FWIW, I loathe the endless expansion of the H1-B program and wish it would become a progressive cause to curtail its use.

        •  Actually... (0+ / 0-)

          ...I'm taking a more extreme position.

          I believe that all immigration is bad for American workers. Legal, illegal, whatever.

          We should only permit immigrants based on narrow humanitarian and/or foreign policy reasons. A small number of immigrants who have extraordinary talent should also be considered. By "extraordinary", I don't mean being able to program computers. I mean guys who invent computers.

          We should admit immigrants based on what the United States needs. Not tomato growers, nor Microsoft, nor Intel.

          Lastly, when we admit (or give amnesty to) someone, it should be ALL THE WAY. No visas, green cards, etc. Full citizenship or nothing. Anything else creates an exploitable underclass.

          •  ftr, I wasn't (0+ / 0-)

            trying to restate my understanding of your position so much as claim that I didn't think La Gitane's rebuttal addressed the substance of your position. I also wanted an opportunity to express my loathing of the H1B.

            There's definitely some space between us on a vision for an ideal immigration system but, if we're looking for an alternative progressive approach to immigration reform other than what's generally discussed, I would think that we could focus on a robust enforcement scheme to penalize employers hiring undocumented labor.

            •  Let's not conflate H1b visa workers with (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Doctor Jazz, ichibon

              low skilled labor.  It's 2 different issues.

              For those in Tech the H1b visa workers come for a few years and do the entry level tech jobs.  And yes, they do take the jobs of American Engineers.  I know, I was one of them in my former life.

              The low skilled workers for Ag and Construction and Hospitality/Food Service are folks who don't come on special visa for a few years, but come to stay permanently.

              We also now have 11 million undocumented workers.  The problem there is that they can be easily exploited and that can drag down wages for low skilled jobs too.

              Congressional elections have consequences!

              by Cordyc on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 11:54:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  They can indeed lower wages... (0+ / 0-)

                My brother-in-law lives in L.A. but keeps a condo here in Minneapolis.  He had a floor refinished in his town house in L.A. and was quoted $2.38 per square foot by the contractor.  During the recent storms here, the wood floor in his Mpls. condo was damaged by water leakage.  His contractor here quoted him $4.55 per square foot.  The most obvious difference?  In L.A. the workers were mostly Hispanics; in Minneapolis they were mostly Americans.  Since the jobs were pretty much equal in terms of what needed doing, the cost difference was almost certainly due to the differing labor costs...  

                -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

                by GulfExpat on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 12:26:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Immigrants always lower wages. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wednesday Bizzare, karmsy

        That is why tech companies are always clamoring for more H1-B visas.

        It doesn't matter if the immigrants are legal or not.

        I'm a landlord. I hire unskilled guys to climb up on roofs and fix them. Because of immigration (legal or not) I have more guys to choose from. So their wages are lower. (And my profits increase).

        Now, maybe my increased profits mean that I can lower rent, build more houses, or give bigger tips to bartenders. Lots of cheap labor has a total positive effect, I'll concede that.

        But it hurts the guy who used to have a roofing job but now doesn't.

        And it hurts his father, who used to have an IT job, but lost it to an H1-B visa.

        Anyone who wants to bring in more immigrants needs to explain what they will do to help these guys.

        •  Uh-oh. CIS. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Capt Crunch

          Linking to them got me HR-ed and a community standards violation notice.

          They have a right-wing history and some connection to and financial support from people whose views are distasteful.

          OTOH, finding balanced immigration studies is difficult. The field is dominated by extremes on both sides.

          Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters. -- President Grover Cleveland, 1888

          by edg on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 01:34:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know much... (0+ / 0-)

            ...about CIS. But the data seems pretty difficult to refute.

            Even a broken clock is right twice a day...

            •  That's what I thought. (0+ / 0-)

              And I confirmed the CIS data mathematically and with corresponding studies from Pew Research, the favored progressive research house. But it seems that validity is unimportant and the source is the only thing that counts.

              Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people’s masters. -- President Grover Cleveland, 1888

              by edg on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 03:59:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  YOu say their wages are lower , those you hire, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Doctor Jazz

          because you have more guys to choose from and thus your profits increased. You could try paying them a little bit more and see how that affects the quality of the work and the fact that workers are less likely to quit and you will have employees who stay with you longer if you pay more.

          Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

          by wishingwell on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 09:43:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for bringing up the unemployment... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      susans, ManhattanMan, oldmaestro

      but , really, lose the phrase "...stab in the back..." given its historical (mis)use.

      I preach the church without Christ, where the lame don't walk, the blind don't see and what's dead stays that way! Hazel Motes in "Wise Blood" (Flannery O'Connor)

      by chalatenango on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 11:14:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You know, we really should (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, petral

      have a calm, intelligent conversation about the role of immigration in our country. That would be fine. But that doesn't change the fact that the people in Murrieta decided that anger and hatred were appropriate for the Fourth, and that they probably terrified busses full of kids. We can't have calm, intelligent conversation with people like that.

      Write your own diary, and perhaps we can have the conversation here.

      "The Democrats are the lesser evil and that has to count for something. Good and evil aren't binary states. All of us are both good and evil. Being less evil is the trajectory of morality." --SC

      by tb92 on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 12:24:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I suspect that far more Americans have lost out... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, Doctor Jazz, petral "trade deals" that exported their jobs to overseas workers.

      The job loss can run the other way too. I'm told that NAFTA increased exports of cheap corn from the U.S. to Mexico. That put thousands of small farmers out of business. Some went to work in the maquiladora's on the border, but many more came north to mow lawns, sweep floors and work construction.

      As progressives, we have to support full employment and worker's rights everywhere, and fight like hell to keep immigration reform from becoming another servant of  Wall Street.

      I'll bet that the folks in Murrietta, deep down, fear competition from immigrant labor, but they're too proud to admit that they're that low down on the economic ladder. Their grandparents expressed their economic insecurity as open Klan-style racism. Today's TeaPuppets hide it behind a flag and holler euphemisms like "We want our country back".

      These dimwits should realize that strong unions are the best defense against incursions of cheap foreign labor, and that Democrats are the political allies of unions. But they're still angry at unions and Democrats for admitting Black Americans into the workplace in the 1960's.

      It's been said around here that today's Dems are no true friend of unions, but PBO did save thousands of auto-industry jobs with the GM bailout, and his administration has been deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants.

      What we need next is to correct the status of 11 million long-term U.S. residents who are living (and working) here as second-class citizens. They too, will depress wages until we bring them into the legal economy.

      “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
      he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

      by jjohnjj on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 03:24:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the diary. You aptly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pitbullgirl65, Doctor Jazz

    captured my ambivalence toward the symbols of patriotism, which took shape while I lived in Orange County during the early 90s.

    I don't think I've ever quite recovered from the 1991 Gulf War, during (and after) which the flag became more of a cudgel with which to beat up dissent rather than a truly unifying symbol. My least favorite shirt/bumper sticker from that era summarizes it nicely.

    "I've always admired your tart honesty and ability to be personally offended by broad social trends." -Principal Skinner.

    by cardinal on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 11:57:45 AM PDT

  •  I had contrasting experiences on the 4th, too. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldmaestro, Doctor Jazz, petral, Janet 707

    (I left a similar comment yesterday, which nobody read, so here goes again...)

    In the evening, as the neighbors were setting fireworks off, I meditated in the loft of a house. There were about 20 of us. We sat symmetrically, with knees against the floor, and hands in mudras. The celebration was so loud and so close. We'd jump at bangs loud enough to make car alarms go off and children wail. I was suppressing snickers because the whole scene was so ridiculous.

    I should note, the house I was in, was in a rough neighborhood. Typically, the sounds of weaponry on the streets surrounding, aren't simulated, unfortunately. The people using the house, with whom I was meditating, were bent on helping the people in the neighborhood.

    During the discussion that followed the meditation, I expressed an analogy to meditating in troubled and troubling surroundings. I was thinking of the flight crew on board a jetliner, announcing that "in case of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the overhead compartments..." Helping people around you who are having trouble putting their masks on is good. But you put your own damn mask on, first of all.

    That's why you meditate in a bad neighborhood.

    That was my 4th of July.

    Thanks for the diary.

    Supple and turbulent, a ring of men/ Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn...

    by karmsy on Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 12:13:54 PM PDT

  •  Mayor Long Did Not Help Murrieta Property Values (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor Jazz

    That fucking moron instigated this and now he is trying to walk it back.  Now the town is associated with bigots with no sense of judgement who would scare the shit out of innocent children. Don't think people want to move there and attend PTA meetings with such assholes.

  •  Progressives need to reclaim the flag (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor Jazz, oddmike, Ellid

    I remember when burning the flag first started.
    It was stupid then and it's stupid now.
    Progressives need to stand up and say that WE are the true patriots - because we are.
    So many of the idiots waving the flag want to tear down the country. How about the idiots waving the flag at Cliven Bundy's place? Waving the flag and then saying they don't recognize the federal government.
    The proper response to that kind of behavior is NOT to burn the flag. It is to take the flag away from those morons and tell them, in no uncertain terms, that they don't deserve to touch the flag of MY country.
    I've done that.
    If you want to see a Tea Bagger get rocked back on their heels just tell them that they're not deserving to be in my country - the USA.
    Wow - that takes the wind out of their sails instantly. Continue on by telling them you don't appreciate traitors like them carrying around YOUR flag.
    It's great - they don't know what to do. Usually they stammer - "Your country?"
    "Damn straight. The US of A! And you don't belong here."
    It's loads of fun and it's the truth.
    The true patriots are the progressives. We should fly the flag of the country we love and not let it be stolen away by the scum trying to tear that country down.

  •  Thanks for the post. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor Jazz

    I was reading it to my husband and he was like,  "Am I feeling hometown pride? That's a first." Not because of patriotism,  but because of inclusion, that all peoples are welcome here in Claremont. What's happening in Murrieta is infuriating and embarrassing, and I work with people (not in Claremont) who agreed with the bigots-and they themselves are immigrants. One is here because of political asylum, and they are the most vocal about "illegal aliens should be sent home". Inland Empire certainly isn't L.A.

    •  Inland can be red hot. (0+ / 0-)

      Claremont and her much larger neighbor are typically more progressive, while many surrounding communities like Upland, La Verne and Glendora seem to favor the GOP. And then Lake Elsinore and Murrieta are full of Tea Party regressive reactionaries.

      Thanks for reading.

  •  How powerful! (0+ / 0-)

    The contrast- two Americas celebrating the anniversary of a nation's hunger for freedom, for liberty- one in a way the Founders would have understood and appreciated; the other in a way most vile.

    There is a church in my area that has offered to take in 25 kids- placing them with families- all with the appropriate protections - and when the word got out......unbelievable how nasty things got so quickly....the church is holding firm but there are now concerns for the safety of the kids.

    This is what the GOTP's masters have done to us.

    "It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness." (Adlai Stevenson in praise of Eleanor Roosevelt) (Glowing Candle Avatar Adopted in 1986)

    by murphthesurf3 on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 08:24:44 PM PDT

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