Gabriel Garnica
Salinas commencement speech simply a primer in hypocrisy
By Gabriel Garnica
May 25, 2016

Maria Elena Salinas, widely recognized as the most prominent Latina journalist in the country and a close friend of equally prominent Latino journalist Jorge Ramos, was booed during her commencement speech at Cal State Fullerton after directing part of her speech in Spanish and using the event to criticize Donald Trump. Predictably, Salinas cited the situation as an illustration of division and racism in this country, characterizing what happened as "sad." She also seemed to blame this situation on the Trump campaign, openly wondering if this would have happened two years ago. Salinas also added that it was sad that people turned such a special moment into a racial war.

As a proud Latino professional, I do my best to be as objective and fair as possible, and so what happened at Cal State is particularly annoying and offensive to me. In the interest of brevity, I will briefly list my issues with this situation.
  • Salinas is a close friend and colleague of Jorge Ramos, publicly and blatantly defending Ramos for disrupting a Trump speech and admitting that Ramos never intended to be fair and objective at that speech, but went there with the intended purpose of confronting and exposing Trump. In her defense statement, Salinas alluded to Latino ethno-political nationalism practically as an entity distinct from Americanism, citing Trump's rhetoric as a "declaration of war" against Latinos. Also, Salinas praised Ramos for using the event to air his problems with Trump, citing what Ramos did as a mission accomplished.

  • Salinas expressed sadness regarding the reactions of many people to her speech and wondered if such reactions would have occurred two years ago. She and others have noted that the reactions and boos from members of the audience are signs of intolerance, racism, and divisiveness. However, ten years ago, Latino Columbia students were prominent members of student protestors who stormed and disrupted a speech by a border patrol founder, overturning furniture, cursing, and waving protest banners causing the speaker to leave the stage. Also, research shows that conservatives are practically permanently banned from speaking at university commencements, and the list of speakers disinvited from such speaking reads like a Who's Who of prominent conservatives.

  • In one of the most prominent such exclusions of conservative speakers, Condoleezza Rice withdrew from giving a Rutgers commencement speech due to protests by students and faculty who disagreed with her views and past actions.

  • Despite the reaction of Salinas, many members of the audience and graduating students, including numerous Latinos, were upset and offended by her actions, stating that she excluded large portions of the audience and graduates by focusing in Spanish only on Latino graduates, becoming too "Latino-centric" and using the event to focus on her political views and personal animosity of Trump implied in the tone and nature of her comments.

    The Bottom Line

    I do not condone any lack of civility at events such as graduations, so those who booed and shouted things at Maria Elena Salinas were wrong in doing so. However, it is clear from her previous public statements that Salinas is anything but a victim here.

    To begin with, Salinas hypocritically speaks of division and exclusion even as she saw no problem with excluding large segments of her audience by speaking in a language they did not understand. She speaks of disrespect toward Latinos even as she herself disrespected many of the Latinos in the audience and among the graduates who were upset and offended by her tone and actions. She pretends that such exclusion and censorship of diversity is a product of the Trump campaign even as objective evidence demonstrates that conservative voices have been systematically excluded and pushed out of university commencement addresses for over a decade.

    The reader should not be mystified by the apparent inconsistency between what Maria Elena Salinas claims and what her actions and words indicate. This is because Salinas, like her buddy Jorge Ramos, is only interested in using events such as the graduation at Cal State Fullerton to preach her message of division, radical Latino-centric rhetoric, and victimization. If Salinas really cared about the graduates and their families, she would have confined her statements to honoring their accomplishments and sacrifices. If she was truly interested in inclusion and respect, she would not have blown off large chunks of her audience in the interest of her personal agenda by arrogantly speaking a language many did not understand. If she really believed that this wonderful event was about the sacrifice and achievements of the graduates, many of them Latinos, she would never have used the event to bash a politician she clearly hates, and made the event about her.

    Maria Elena Salinas made her buddy Jorge Ramos very proud by her words and actions at Cal State Fullerton, for both of these radical, biased self-professed and self-appointed race warriors are only interested in pursuing their agenda and view of America to the exclusion of anyone else's. As a Latino who tries as much as possible to be a fair, objective critical thinker, I am saddened by the legions of fawning Latinos who hang on every word and statement of hypocrites such as Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos, and I look forward to the day when their ilk will stop using the race card to hide their own arrogant hypocrisy and biased agenda.
© Gabriel Garnica


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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