A teacher called members of the military 'the lowest of our low.' The video made people furious.
By ELI ROSENBERG | The Washington Post | Published: January 30, 2018
Editor's note: The video embedded in this story contains profanity.
A teacher and city council member in a small town on the outskirts of Los Angeles became the subject of harsh criticism after a video of him criticizing the military was shared widely on the Internet.
Gregory Salcido, who works at a high school in Pico Rivera said in the video that members of the military fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan were "the lowest of the low," in a rant about how long the wars overseas have dragged on. The video was reportedly taken in the middle of a history class he was teaching.
"Because we have a bunch of dumbs—s over there," he said in the video. "Think about the people who you know who are over there. Your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whatever. They're dumb(expletive). They're not like high level thinkers, they're not academic people, they're not intellectual people. They're the lowest of our low."
The video appears to have been surreptitiously recorded. It was published on Facebook by a woman who tagged the post from Connecticut, said the student who filmed it was a friend's son, and urged her followers to help her "make this go viral." It spread widely after it was picked up by conservative media outlets across the country. The person taking the video appears to be wearing a Marines sweatshirt.
"So, if you join the military, it's because you had no other options," he said. "It's because you didn't take care of business academically because your parents didn't love you enough to push you and then you didn't love yourself enough to push yourself."
Kimberlie Flauto tweeted "Help me make this go viral. My friends son was sporting his marine sweater while this liberal douche teacher rants about. . ."
Salcido spoke in loaded terms about the United States's foes, saying the military was losing to "dudes wearing freaking robes and chanclas (flip-flops)" in the Middle East.
"The data is in, we don't have a good military," he said. "We couldn't beat the Vietnamese. They're a bunch of people this freaking big throwing rice at us."
He also criticized military recruiters in public schools.
"It's a lie that our military is freaking bitching," he said. "Why after the national anthem do we have a killing machine fly over the freaking stadium? You know, the stealth bomber comes in. Everyone's all like, 'Yeah.' Like, 'That's what we kill people with, woo.' Why would that be something we celebrate?"
The video has now been viewed more than 6 million times, after it was picked up by Fox News, the Blaze and Breitbart, in addition to local news sites in California.
"I'm respectfully requesting a meeting with you @ArlingtonNatl Section 60, Grave 9927," wrote Karen Vaughn, whose son Aaron was killed in Afghanistan in 2011, to Salcido on Twitter. "I will pay all of your expenses. You and I should begin a conversation for the sake of all that's good."
"Instead of teaching the next generation how to read and write, many taxpayer-funded schools are teaching children how to hate America," conservative radio host Todd Starnes wrote on his show's website in a piece about the incident. "I salute this 17-year-old young man who boldly took a stand in his classroom by exposing his foul-mouthed, military-hating teacher. May God bless this great American patriot."
The Pentagon commented in a Breitbart story about the comments, as spokeswoman Amber Smith told the site that she had seen the teacher's remarks and that they were "very uninformed."
The El Rancho Unified School District did not respond to a request for comment.
"We acknowledge it is his voice based on the research of the incident so far and knowing it came from one of our classrooms," the district Superintendent Karling Aguilera-Fort told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune in a phone interview. "We cannot expose the disciplinary measures because it is a personnel matter, but there will be disciplinary measures taken."
Salcido did not return a request for comment sent to the email address on his biography page, which said that he was graduate of El Rancho High School, where he now teaches, and has served as the city's mayor three times. He also serves as a member of the city's History and Heritage Society Committee.
He told the Los Angeles Times that he had been receiving threats since the video was published.
"Because of the many vulgar and violent threats against my family I do not have any comment on the situation at this time," he said in an email to the newspaper.
A Facebook page that appeared to be Salcido's showed a long list of angry, abusive and vaguely threatening comments. Some posted the teacher's phone number, email address, and on Twitter, the addresses for what people said were his home and office.
"If you ever said some (expletive) like that to me you would be brain dead," the commenter wrote on Facebook.
One referenced the relative proximity of Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base located about two hours away from Pico Rivera.
"Camp Pen just down the road for Marines," the comment wrote. "You might want to move mother (expletive)!!!"
A person who identified himself as a former student of Salcido's wrote in to defend him.
"This 'man' is a wonderful educator," the person wrote. "Taught me to see the other points of view in the world, and know when to recognize ignorance when it arose."
A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department declined to comment.
"It's an ongoing situation," she said.
Pico Rivera, a predominantly Latino town of 63,000, was founded by veterans after World War II and maintains a strong connection to the military, the town's mayor, Gustavo Camacho, told The Washington Post.
"I and my fellow council members strongly disagree with Mr. Salcido's point of view," Camacho said in a phone interview. "Quite frankly, we denounce his statements."
Camacho estimated that at least 35 percent of people in town had veterans in their families.
"We have four veteran posts. Every family here is connected to an individual who has served or is currently serving," Camacho said. "There is no doubt that the majority of folks are disturbed by this, but as a family we'll overcome this."
This is not the first time Salcido has been in the news. In 2010, he was placed on administrative leave after a parent complained about his classroom conduct, according to the Whittier Daily News. About two years later, he was again placed on leave after the Sheriff's Department received a complaint that he struck a student, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
The student who took the video is a 17-year-old senior at the school, whose father and two uncles are veterans, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
"It was so disrespectful to my dad and my uncles and all veterans and those still in the military," the student told the newspaper.
The video was taken in a history class earlier this month. The teenager said he was surprised by the attention it had received.
"It wasn't meant for anyone else, but my mom shared it with a few friends," he said, "and now it's this."