Just in case you're not clued in yet or for some reason you don't pay attention to Chicago news (it's entertaining, let me tell you!), yesterday a high school in the area, Highland Park High School, decided to not send their girls' basketball team to a tournament in Arizona. This is a tournament the girls had been looking forward to for a long time. They held bake sales in order to raise their own money so they could go. All the arrangements had been made and the team was ready to go, but suddenly the administration decided that the trip would be cancelled.
They cite various reasons--from fear for the girls' safety to a discrepancy between Arizona's laws and the school's "beliefs and values."
They decided arbitrarily. They decided, in my opinion, too quickly. They decided wrongly.
And here's why: keeping those girls home won't change a thing in Arizona. And because keeping them home won't change anything, the very fact that the administration is denying them this opportunity makes it a political maneuver. Sorry, but that's not what I send my kids to school for.
As a parent of a former basketball player, I've been trying all morning to put myself in the shoes of those girls and their parents. After all, these are the people who matter in this story. The opinions of the school board members, the administrators, even the staff of the district should not matter--they aren't being denied. The girls are.
So, if this had happened in our district to my daughter, how would I feel? I'd be mad. Really mad. Because I'd feel like my child was being used to make a political statement. And I would be resentful of that, you can be sure.
Highland Park High School has sent students to China in the past. Are they telling me that the way China treats its citizens, women in particular, is acceptable? But, God forbid we send students to the awful, terrible state of Arizona. Puh-leaze!
My parents live in Arizona--Tucson, to be specific, which is only about an hour's drive from the Mexican border. Lately my mom has told me stories about what's going on there that make me shudder. Stories about people being shot in their own homes. Stories of violence. It's scary, and I have started to wonder whether my parents are safe. And, most telling of all, last week my mom told me that she and my dad had finally, after 50 years, started locking their doors at night. (I know, I know, but they lived in the country for a loooong time and just never bothered.)
Here's the thing. The Arizona story is much bigger than what we here in Chicago can even begin to understand. We just can't get our heads around it unless we've lived there. (Kay lives there and has written a fantastic post about it here.)
And we just can't understand this "controversial" law unless we've actually read it. I wonder if the Highland Park High School administrators have read it.
I have. Here's the first line of the law that seems so controversial to liberals: "The legislature finds that there is a compelling interest in the cooperative enforcement of federal immigration laws throughout all of Arizona."
Just in case you are a member of the Highland Park school board, let me explain this to you in simple language. All Arizona wants is to uphold FEDERAL IMMIGRATION LAWS. The laws are already in place. They pertain to the entire country--even to Highland Park residents.
And if it seems so controversial for an individual state to uphold a federal law, maybe Highland Park administrators should consider moving to China. I'm sure they'd get better treatment there.