. . . . is brought to you by of the Alisal Union School District in Salinas, California.
Seems as if the district is opening a new school. They need to give it a name.
They’ve chosen a name already. According to the Alisal Union District Superintendant, John Ramirez, they’re planning to name that new school in honor of Tiburcio Vasquez.
This decision has raised a few eyebrows and sparked some opposition. Why, you ask? Is it due to racism?
Hardly. Turns out that Tiburcio Vasquez has a rather . . . checkered history. Seems Vasquez committed his first crime at age 14 – he stabbed a constable. He then afterwards embarked on a life of crime, becoming essentially a professional bandit. He continued that career – interrupted by a couple of stints in San Quentin prison- until he was roughly 40 years old. His criminal career ended when he was hanged in 1875 for murdering two people.
In fact, the University of Southern California library calls Vasquez “probably the most notorious bandit California ever saw”.
The district Superintendent isn’t backing down, though. He’s predictably defending his choice publicly. Ramirez has made such noble and measured statements defending the choice as to say that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and has referred to Vasquez as a “revolutionary” who was “not okay with oppression.” Ramirez has also made the inane claim that understanding Vasquez’s place in history requires consultation with Chicano historians.
Another member of the selection committee, Francisco Estrada, also defended naming the new school after a convicted murderer. Estrada has claimed that Vasquez was merely “misunderstood”; that Vasquez “was not a murderer” but rather “was framed by the system at that time.” Estrada went on to compare Vazquez to Robin Hood, saying that Vasquez “took from the rich and gave to the poor” and “was your inspiration of Zorro”.
I guess these two guys could be right. All of their after-the-fact justification sounds more to me like PC apologia and than anything else. But it’s a free country, and they’re entitled to speak their minds.
As am I. In a word, gentlemen – bullshit. Murder is very damn easy to understand; ditto a 25+ year career as a professional bandit and criminal. Both of those are ethnically and racially neutral. And it doesn’t require any particular ethnic, racial, or religious background to figure out that naming a school after a 25+ year career criminal who was hanged as a murderer is a damnfool idea.
Generally, I couldn’t give a hoot in hell what some school district in California names a new school. But this one is just plain wrong. I really think they can find someone better to honor than a 25+ year career criminal who was hanged for murder over 135 years ago. Like maybe the late USMC Sgt. Rafael Peralta, perhaps? If I recall correctly Sgt. Peralta was from California too.
Salinas is located in Monterrey County, California. Phone, fax, and e-mail contact information for the Monterrey County Board of Education may be found here.
Yes, this is a local decision. But I’m not sure the County Board of Education is aware of this particular bit of idiocy – and IMO they damn well should be.