by David Safier
John Huppenthal is clearly the victim here. Just ask him, he'll tell you, as he did on the John C. Scott radio show last week.
"The interpretation of those blog comments was the exact opposite of what I was trying to communicate."
"All those scholarly posts [of mine] have disappeared. There has been a massive cutting out of what I put into that blog."
"They were pouring boiling oil on me in that blog! Occasionally I responded with a snarky, inappropriate retort to them, to get a reaction out of them."
Let's take a look at those three assertions, one by one.
I'm not sure how you can misinterpret statements that say people on public assistance are "lazy pigs," the Mexican American Studies program is the equivalent of the KKK and its teachers are skin heads, and "We all need to stomp out balkanization. No spanish radio stations, no spanish billboards, no spanish tv stations, no spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English."
Huppenthal went to some lengths on the radio show to explain that his statements were misinterpreted. For instance, his "speak English" tirade was simply him getting emotional about the need for Hispanics to learn English if they want to get ahead. He said it upsets him when he sees billboards in Spanish when he's driving home from work.
"I'm going like, how are these children going to get a command of the English language if they can grow up in a community without ever knowing English?"
But he wants us to understand, he doesn't feel in any way superior to the Spanish speaking people he wants to help. Far from it.
"I don't put myself above these families. I view myself as a servant to these families. I would get down on my hands and knees in the dirt and allow them to climb on my shoulders if I could be helpful."
As for Huppenthal's assertion that there has been a "massive cutting out of what I put on that blog," getting rid of "all those scholarly posts," that's simply not true. I'm assuming he's talking about Blog for Arizona which is where Huppenthal's profligate commenting was first exposed. So far as I know, there hasn't been any cutting. Every anonymous comment he made on my Blog for Arizona posts is still there (same for his comments here on The Range), and I'm reasonably certain that's true of posts by the other writers as well. If he wants to take the time to dig up his old comments and put them out there for the public to read, he's welcome to.
What he's most upset about is that his worst moments have been publicized, not the "scholarly" comments which he thinks are his finest hour. But look, if a man is on the stand for robbing four banks, he probably shouldn't try to use as a defense, "You know, I didn't rob a single bank 361 days last year."
And I should add, none of us on the blog felt threatened by the scholarship or intellectual prowess Huppenthal displayed in his comments. Far from it. I think Tim Steller said it best in his column in the Star, On blogs, Huppenthal reveals his inner ugliness.
We can thank Huppenthal for making these and many other eye-opening comments because they show him for what he apparently is: A narrow ideologue with delusions of intellectual grandeur.
As for Huppenthal's claim all he was doing was trying "to get a reaction out of them" with every "snarky, inappropriate retort," that doesn't hold up very well. First, Huppenthal commented all over the place, on left- and right-leaning blogs, not just on Blog for Arizona. His "speak English" comment, for instance, was on Espresso Pundit, which leans way to the right.
But let's test out whether we should condone Huppenthal's inappropriate comments, or maybe just shrug our shoulders and move on. Let's imagine that a student at Pueblo High stuck his head into a Mexican American Studies classroom wearing a Thucydides mask (I hear you can buy them at Walmart around Halloween time) and yelled at the teacher, "Hey skin head, your class is just like the KKK!" And ran away down the hall. A few minutes later he was caught by the hall monitor, had his mask ripped off and was marched down to the principal's office. Do you think the principal would have accepted the excuse from the student, "Hey, I was only trying to get a reaction out of them." I'm guessing not. That kid would get a severe reprimand followed by detention or suspension. That's what would happen to a teenager. Should a grown man whose job it is to oversee the education of all Arizona public school students be given a pass for doing the same thing?
So far, we've seen three stages of Huppenthal: the anonymous commenter, the weeping apologizer, and the misunderstood victim. We still have weeks before the primary. Who knows what Huppenthal 4.0 will look like?