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Claremont school Thanksgiving costumes create a commotion

Nearly two dozen protesters were stationed this morning in front of Condit Elementary School in Claremont, the site of a decades-old Thanksgiving tradition that is under fire because kindergartners dress up in handmade pilgrim and Native American costumes.

After a handful of parents complained that the Native American headdresses and vests were demeaning, cartoonish stereotypes, the Claremont Unified School District eliminated the costumes from this year's festivities, but allowed the turkey feast to go forward.

The protesters were evenly split between parents who supported the costumes and parents who opposed the outfits, and their discussion grew so heated that school officials called police, who separated the protesters on separate sidewalks, said Lt. Dennis Smith of the Claremont Police Department.

Police are also paying extra attention to Claremont schools Supt. David Cash's home, after he called police to report he was receiving hate e-mails and feared for his safety, Smith said. The e-mails did not rise to the level of criminal prosecution.

Cash and Condit principal Tim Northrop did not return phone calls seeking comment, but school employees reported that the commotion in front of the school was heated.

"It's been wild," said one woman who declined to give her name. Meanwhile, the kindergartners -- some of whom showed up wearing their banned costumes -- frolicked on the playground, eating, running and chattering with friends, Smith said. "The kids were oblivious," he added, "as they should be."

--Seema Mehta

Read the original story here.

Comments () | Archives (143)

just a typical UC professor against such a thing. UC colleges- what a waste of an education.

How ridiculous that this PC hypersensitivity lingers on like a foul odor. The school is merely carrying on an innocent tradition that hurts no one except those who are looking for any excuse raise their fists in imbicilic outrage. Such hypersensitive morons should find a real issue to be outraged about, but they are obviously too daft to recognize one.

white people shut up... dress like a fool in your own house....

christians complain more then the liberals do....

kids can be kids, so the next time a child wants to dress like virgin marry or the devil to school ...it will all for fun...

The Native Americans have every right to protest. So do the parents. To say the parents were not setting a good example is ridiculous. In fact they were setting a fine example. The children got to witness the right to protest.

The real tragedy in all of this is that a 20 year tradition is wiped out because of a complaint. The district got scared of a lawsuit and negative press but got the negative press anyways. This country continues to erode when we let the few determine our future because of politcal correctness.

Let's all remember that the original Thanksgiving had nothing to do with anybody vanquishing anybody else. It was an old farmers' tradition of saying thanks after the harvest had been put in. Agricultural people all over the world did it, including those Native Americans who cultivated. Surely there's time to have a thanksgiving without having to turn it into discussion of the brutality that both the Europeans and the Native Americans showered down upon each other. If you know your American history, there's plenty of horror stories on both sides to go around. Thanksgiving, though, transcends all skin colors, and we should spend the time without yelling or protesting. And, yeah, I personally give thanks for the freedom of speech we all enjoy. Best to all.

I remember everyone wanting to dress like the Indian because the pilgrims looked silly. Are they protesting the stereotype of white people dressing with lame belt buckles on their hats? If not, I don't get the issue.

This has to be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. These people are missing the entire point of what the children are celebrating... two opposing groups of people, the pilgrims and indians, set aside their differences for a day and had Thanksgiving. A very positive thing to do and something that like it or not; is history.

The original protester thought this was no different than dressing the children up like Jews and Nazis; but then there was never anything positive in that conflict.

Why don't we just do away with Santa Claus and all of the days we celebrate something historical to prevent anyone from being offended. The heck with what the kids think! I don't want to be offended.

Not to mention what could possibly be offensive about a kindergartener dressed up to celebrate Thanksgiving. I mean the pilgrims and indians did dress that way back then didn't they?

Think of what you are teaching your children! It is not very positive!

Thank you, Michael, for your observations. They added a lot to the story, a story that needed details like yours. Something's lacking when those details are missing from a story. It didn't mention that the protesters were Native Americans.
American history is full of myths that need dispelling.

We have raised a nation of narcissists, whereby any single person feels the whole world should stop on its axis and bow to their every need. There's a time and place to fight for your rights: gay marriage, wars, equal opportunity for all, the war on drugs, poverty & terrorism. All of these lofty issues are worth fighting for. But five year olds parading in pilgrim and Native American clothing for a day? These kids have fun for a few hours and will most likely forget about that day until the next year. This is not part of a grand conspiracy of institutionalized hate against the indigenous. One person, a Condit parent and UCR nazi/professor Michelle Raheja, gets her PC feelings hurt and decides, instead of pulling her kid out of school for the day, to shut down harmless fun for all kids at the school. Well done, selfish baby boomer! You've managed to mute the fun for all kids and parents and yank away decades of benign tradition.

When I was in elementary school, our school had pilgrim and Indian dress up as well and I don't think it was demeaning at all. If anything, I feel that it helped me to appreciate Indian culture more than I would have. I say this because Thanksgiving parties in elementary school place Native Americans in a positive light while children are still young and forming their personal views for the future.

When sensible minds prevail, as they ultimately will in our town, there will be some real discussion of the issues involved here -- and there are issues. One is, when people complain about something, or differ with our own view, it's probably more fruitful to hear them out than to shout them down, which is what happened this morning at Condit. I'll say it again -- the haranguing and the refusal to listen here was on the side of the pro-costume parents. The Native Americans got an earful, and didn't get a chance to say anything. People have heard of the mob mentality, but surprisingly never see it in themselves, whatever their ethnicity or beliefs. And I want to make clear that the parents who were yelling at the protesters do not represent all of us in Claremont or the Condit community.

What a shame, that a cute little kids event was turned into a major political brouhaha because of one dumb woman standing on her "I'm Offended!" soapbox. If she felt that insulted, and didn't want her daughter traumatized, then for pity's sake, STAY HOME and don't ruin somebody else's good time! What a narcissist!

The result is even the most tolerant Californians among us are starting to get to the point that they are tired of the bullying of the political correctness crowd and saying amongst themselves that enough is enough. Thanksgiving is a National holiday and it THANKS GOD for His provision and HONORS the people of different colors and races who got together to celebrate. What irony that same holiday is causing this divisiveness in this day and age!

When you tolerate stupidity, you get more of it. Some people just aren't happy unless they are making others as miserable as they are. It's time regular folks stand up and let our voices be heard.

I am so sick of liberal lunatics. Why don't they just go find an island to live on so they can sit around with sour looks on their faces, prohibiting any kind of enjoyment that might offend someone.

Goodness gracious, what is this world coming to? We allow a silly groups of people determine what we do for every darn holiday nowadays. They complain and Christmas is now Winter Holiday. They see a problem in mentioning God. Now this. Well they can kiss off and grow up. It is history. Why must we comply to their desires? I plan on calling it Christmas, yes with CHRIST in it. Indians and Pilgrims are part of our nation's history, like it or not and chiladren enjoy learning about it and being able to "take part" in the holiday. These people need to find productive hobbies.

It was the UCR professor/parent/fascist that took it upon herself to wipe out decades of harmless tradition for her selfish reasons. Baby boomers raise their kids in a Utopian world, where everyone gets trophies at little league games that no longer keep score in fear of some child's parent crying that their child will be scarred forever if they have to cope with defeat. This also applies to parents who want to ban peanut-related foods at their precious child's school because there is a small chance their moronic child will mistakenly shove a payday bar down their throat and die. So all the kids will have to pay the price of a few psychopathic parents. All the while these hippie-turn-parents attempt to constantly use positive reinforcement on their kids, stressing to them that their angels cannot possibly do any wrong in this world. Humility is an anathema to these types of PC parents. Everyone has seen these types of sick parents: they just wanna be their kid's "friend" and be the eternal good guy, as opposed to their proper parent that ultimately does the right thing and prepare their child to handle obstacles in life on their own. I've had many friends in elementary, middle and high school that have had "cool" parents that never impose an rules or restrictions on their kids behavior. They grow up the most selfish, twisted, Zanax-hazed patients only a psychotherapist and their mother could love.

Right on Andrea! Look at the context! Kindergartners are trying to figure out how to play nicely on the playground and pay attention in class. Let Thanksgiving be an example of cooperation between different people. It isn't historically accurate, but the Thanksgiving myth is important to our understanding of American ideals. It gives us something to live up to.

oh boy, when the pro-pc comments show up are they going to feel foolish!

oh wait, no one is pro-pc, it's just some abstraction people attack when someone else has the gall to suggest something is offensive. like dressing up your kid like the lady on the butter and acting like it has some deep moral/historical meaning about....something.

i forgot, it's fun! how dare those pc thugs ruin our minstrel shows, it's so much fun! and we've been doing it for something like, 15 whole years!

Costumes. We all wear them. Throughout history they change. What a wonderful way for the little ones to learn about those who walked before us.

I have lived in Claremont almost my whole life and i am NOT suprised about this. If you have ever been to Claremont there is absolutley NOTHING for these people to do but go and protest over 5 year old kids. I did the same thing when i was the same age and its just stupid that people act this way how little kids are dressed. Ever since we were little we have been told the pilgrims came on the mayflower the indians greeted and cheered us and we shared a big meal. What are we going to tell the kids, the pilgrims basically murdered the indians and pushed them onto reservations to live. Have some common sense people they are LITTLE KIDS who dont know right from wrong!!!!!!!

There was more "freedom of speech" in Iraq under Saddam Hussein than there was at Condit this morning. The protesters, who were very softspoken when they weren't silent, were harangued until they left, much as they are being harangued now by bloggers who weren't there and who know nothing about our town. There was no good example set for our children -- and it wasn't the fault of the protesters.

Why don't they celebrate thanksgiving the old fashion way? Invite all the neighbors over, throw a big feast, then kill them and steal their land.

Great...Now the loons are perverting a holiday tradition that celebrates a day that people put aside their diferences, sat down, gave thanks, and shared a meal together. Whether this really occured or is folklore is irrelevent, the message is valid and good, and the tradition is cherished.

Now, because some nut-job wants to play the perpetual victim, it's ruined for a group of innocent children - and the message (of brotherhood, tolerance and thankfulness) is lost.

Ms. Raheja - you really need to get a life. Fill the pathetic hole in your soul with something other than disdain - this is a celebration, and a time for reflection and nothing else. Please, go somewhere else to search for your 15 minutes of fame and let our little ones have fun, pretend to be Pilgrims and Native Americans and enjoy their day.

As the see-saw conquest of Sicily was coming to a close, 12'th century rule under the Christian King Roger II was remembered for providing an umbrella of multi-ethnic, religious tolerance for a period. No it didn't last, but remembering and celebrating such a period would be worth while. So, what's the harm in dressing up too? Do we need Kindergarten 101 lessons in PC costumes ?

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