Gabriel Garnica
This birth certificate is real...signed, Epstein's mother
By Gabriel Garnica
May 3, 2011

I was pleased to see the 70s series Welcome Back, Kotter receive its just recognition at the recent TV Land Awards in New York City. As an educator for most of my life who grew up in that era, I have always appreciated that show's unique contributions to popular culture as well as its memorable characters and phrases. From the Groucho Marx-like Gabe Kaplan to the soon-to-be-superstar John Travolta, the inhabitants of fictional James Buchanan High School in Brooklyn managed to wise-crack and goof their way into America's collective entertainment psyche.

One of the most memorable characters and running gags belongs to Robert Hegyes, whose Juan Epstein would repeatedly submit an obviously forged letter from "Epstein's Mother" spewing some pathetic and superficial excuse for Juan's recent absence or lateness. The absurdity of this recurring theme, of course, was that Juan would continue to use this lame epistle to pathetic deception and Kotter would continue to humor Juan's feeble and pitiful effort to avoid the consequences of his actions.

If I have learned one thing over the years, it is that we must not laugh too loudly at jokes, pranks, and absurd situations lest such comical bedlam should one day become our all-too-tragic reality. My mother would often warn me not to ridicule our neighborhood's pathetic hospital lest I end up in one of its halls of medical malpractice, caution me not to mock some ridiculous girl in my class lest I end up marrying her, and counsel me not to tell jokes about balding, middle-aged men lest I end up, well, balding and middle-aged ( that last one seems to be catching me).

Well, my mother's wise words have truly come to roost as of late. I have seen common sense and respect for the most minimal IQs take a back seat to an almost surreal struggle to sustain the adoration, trust, and credibility of our current leader. We have always learned to be suspicious when someone refuses to provide clear evidence of their claims. Common sense dictates that we should doubt those who put things off or drag their feet when provided an opportunity to clear the air. Common decency invites us to discredit those who will idly watch others be punished for situations they can resolve with the smallest effort. We watch with disdain when people wave their pride, arrogance, and stubborn desire to patronize against their detractors. We are taught that there are few things as pathetic as someone who arrogantly brushes off reasonable questions, brazenly mocks sensible detractors, shamelessly turns away logical arguments with feeble retorts, or boldly pretends that matters have been resolved or settled because they say so.

The demise of Osama bin Laden is a great victory for our military and intelligence forces who have worked so hard for ten years. Ironically, this testament to the dedication and determination of so many for so long may provide a convenient distraction and a shameless opportunity for shameless, superficial credit for those who most desperately need, but clearly do not deserve, such benefits. This convenient fortune spilled before those least deserving of its benefits through the efforts of those people most worthy of our praise and respect may well be the most incredible absurdity of this whole episode. Sadly, we have all been taught that the most undeserving often stumble on benefits others have rightfully earned and are all too willing to take the credit and partake of the opportunities handed to them. This experience has likewise taught us to distrust those who waste no time in manipulating situations for self-benefit regardless of good taste or merit.

Despite the above lessons instilled on each of us at one point or another in our journey from childish pretenses and rationalizations to adulthood, we awake each day to see such lessons ignored consistently by a leadership and media who seemingly benefit from what can only be described as the 25% rule. Namely, it seems that 25% of our nation is lying, 25% is pushing an agenda, 25% does not care, and 25% are too stupid to see what is plainly in front of their noses. One need only read such items as , and and allow one's brain to function properly to see that something is not right here and this latest proof being offered comes right out of Welcome Back, Kotter. The problem my dear Sweathogs, is that we cannot have a leadership that repeatedly responds to requests for honesty, integrity, common sense, and respect for the Constitution with "Up your nose with a rubber hose!"

© Gabriel Garnica


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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