Hate Speech In America America's Performative in masking Discrimination

How does modern America perform a facade that veils hate speech?


It has come to my attention that my community which strived to promote diversity and tolerance performs a facade that seeks to cover hate speech. This is specifically seen through videos surfacing on the news in which waterpolo students from my alma mater make gestures that directly correlate to nazism. My school has strived to be proud of representing the diverse demographics of its city yet the pushback to this diversity is not being addressed and is sought to be veiled. This event has sparked a contesting question that has changed my perception of my own community. Schools need to stop hate with an unequivocal stance against it. To tolerate hate with a facade of 'protecting free speech' not only mischaracterizes an act designed to harm, it exemplifies a passive allowance of such hate to our wider community that bears the brunt of racial prejudice and violence.For my methodology, I seek to interview individuals from my school to learn about their experiences in the current social climate of the school. I will ask questions regarding the tension held in school and how each individual is being impacted by the Nazi salute video. I will ask how the incident has affected their perception on the community and how they plan to combat or cope with the issue individually. I will also include my own experience regarding how I have personally witnessed a form of hate speech and how the lack of addressing contributes to the community’s performance of being an exemplary school. My experience will demonstrate the lack of confrontation when it comes to discriminatory behavior that eliminates the ideal of a safe space and leaves individuals vulnerable to racial and social prejudice. I also will research articles regarding the surfaced videos which includes learning how the district dealt with the incident. I have recently learned that the school has attempted to cover up the videos, but now that the videos have surfaced, I want to know what my alma mater is doing currently to discourage this intolerable and discriminatory behavior. Through the articles, I will learn how my community’s performance has changed from hiding the Nazi salute video in order to uphold the school district’s name to changing their performance as a community that will seek to combat these issues directly. I will connect the community's performance to previous material in class that we have covered regarding the idea of whiteness and discrimination embedded in institutions as a result of historical racial prejudice.

This image demonstrates the spread of hate at the click of a button.

Performance Gallery

The video that has surfaced on the internet during summer 2019 demonstrates Water Polo students from Pacifica High School raising their hands in what depicts a Nazi salute. This video was recorded in November 2018.
Additional videos of Pacifica High students marching with a Nazi salute have surfaced after the initial viral video.
A video from a year ago demonstrates Pacifica Waterpolo students performing gestures that correlate to Nazism.
The video demonstrates a Pacifica High student wearing a confederate flag.
The Garden Grove Unified School District has a board meeting to discuss the hate speech demonstrated by Pacifica High students.
ABC7's new coverage on the Nazi salute videos of Pacifica High school discusses the apology that the school issued in light of the recent events for not addressing the situation instantly.
Garden Grove Unified School District discusses its intentions to address this situation more publicly and consciously.
The school district sends out a message regarding the hate speech videos involving Pacifica High students


The Nazi salute videos that recently surfaced in summer 2019 were videos recorded 1-3 years ago. The initial viral video was filmed in November 2018 and demonstrates a group of students , without any adult supervision, singing a Nazi marching song while raising their arms in a Nazi salute. Additional videos went viral that demonstrate Pacifica High students performing gestures that correlate to Nazism. Previously, the school administration addressed the situation when they discovered the videos in March of 2019 with the students and families involved. Once the videos became viral, the Pacifica High school administration spoke out publicly regarding the Nazi salute videos involving Pacifica High students. The Garden Grove Unified School District held a board meeting as a result of the newly surfaced videos being open to the public. The board meeting dealt with the investigation and addressing the videos. Pacifica High school’s principal made an open apology to the community due to “our investigation and our transparency with the Pacifica community [falling] drastically short” during the board meeting(ABC7 news). A statement on behalf of Pacifica High School and GGUSD was made stating that both “strongly condemn a video recorded last year of students engaged in nazi-related gestures.”


Pacifica community's initial response to the hate speech videos demonstrates an underlying systemic problem of discrimination and prejudice that transcends into a cultural acceptance and normalization of hate speech.

The white supremacist ideals embodied by Nazism is exemplified in the white supremacy institutionalized in America through the U.S. Supreme Court which demonstrates systemic prejudice and discrimination against minorities. Specifically, the Ozawa court case represented a Japanese businessman Takao Ozawa who petitioned the Supreme Court for naturalization on the basis that his skin was as white as a Caucasion or even whiter. He mainly argued that his race should not determine his opportunity to naturalize, but his personal beliefs at heart considered himself a true American.(2.0 Race: The Power of Illusion) The Supreme Court ruled that Ozawa could not be a citizen on the basis that he was not white because he was of Mongolian race, not Caucasian.

Yet the Supreme Court had a contradictory ruling in the Singh Thinh case, in which a South Asian immigrant petitioned for citizenship on the basis that Indians were of the Aryan or Caucasian race, therefore white. The Supreme Court ruled against Thinh’s citizenship on the basis that the scientific evidence relating Indians to Caucasians did not define whiteness but, instead, it defined the subjectivity of who was white(2.0 Race: The Power of Illusion). The Supreme Court used scientific evidence in the Ozawa case yet ruled against scientific evidence in the Singh Thinh case and supported subjectivity as the main determinant for whiteness. This subjectivity on whiteness was purposely made against minorities who did not have a say in the systemic racism and discrimination imposed through the contradictory rulings.

The performative gestures demonstrated by Pacifica high school water polo students represent an ethnic group that sought to erase cultural coexistence of other ethno-cultural groups. This act in turn signifies the systemic prejudice present in the cultural environment that the students were fostered in. The encouragement from pluralism was advocated in the Pacifica community, but when acts against ethno-cultural differences were not addressed, it lead to an environment in which a dominant culture is in the uprising; in this case white supremacy. Personal experience further supports the lack of support in addressing subtle hate speech during my time in my alma mater. For example, the outright hate speech from a classmate during class with a teacher present demonstrates the unsupportive environment that promotes a dominant culture rather than a coexistence of diverse cultures and backgrounds. The words “illegals should go back” echoed loudly throughout the classroom yet not addressed by the teacher who chose not to address the issue and continue teaching. This demonstrates the systemic problem in the inability to not address hate speech within the community.

The students who performed Nazi salutes in the controversial video possess conceptual maps ultimately shaped by their environment that is similar to the creation of the German children’s conceptual maps during the Holocaust that were heavily influenced propaganda. The students grew up in an environment in which humor involves light racist jokes that affects one's social standing amongst peers.

Previously in a neighboring school district, students from Huntington Beach partied with swastika symbols. This image on the right demonstrates the CNN news coverage regarding how prior to the viral video of Pacifica High students, Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss met with students in a neighboring school district who had used swastika symbols in a party(Simon). This incident is yet another form of evidence demonstrating the toxic environment in which hate speech is allowed and encouraged. Even more so, the punishment being that they got to meet Anne Frank’s sister which should be viewed as an honor and not a form of discipline. Being fostered in this type of environment is detrimental in shaping one’s conceptual maps since hate speech is interpreted as humor rather than understanding and representing the true meaning and deep rooted history of hate speech words, symbols, and actions.

This correlates to the discriminatory propaganda present during the Holocaust that shaped German childrens’ conceptual maps to view Jewish individuals as inferior and the Ayran race as superior. This can be illustrated in the 1938 German children’s book, “The Poisonous Mushroom” by Ernst Hiemer which warns German children of the Jewish individuals who “poisonous mushrooms” who plague the German and use racist descriptions in order to “recognise a Jew.” Being exposed to this systemic discrimnation at an early age can impact one’s conceptual map in a way that distorts reality and leads to the inferiorizing of an ethnic group due to cultural differences which leads to the superiority of one culture.

Yet this pluralism is demonstrated in the community’s response to the publicity of the videos. The image above depicts Pacifica High school's ASB student group demonstrating the community's answer to hate speech.Pacifica’s actions to make the community more inclusive and not have this incident define the community is shown through the mural in Pacifica high school that demonstrates handmade hearts with everyone’s names on each one. This is representative of the inclusive community that has come together during a difficult time of reflection of acknowledgment that change is needed.


The climate of the school in the aftermath of the Nazi salute videos is demonstrated through a Pacifica High school student in his third year who will remain anonymous. He stated that a high amount of stress was echoed after the resurfacing of videos brought many news reporters on campus. The death threats made towards teachers, who were unaware of the videos, were sent for “not acting against what the videos represented.” The student wishes to move on from the incident and learn as a community.

Another interview is demonstrated from the perception of Pacifica history teacher, Anna Tourtellote, who demonstrates a great concern over the school district “not being able to both directly and publicly confront this sort of behavior” which has led to a “[loss of] precious time”(CNN).


The Pacifica community has demonstrated a highly changed performance through the shift of seeking to hide the hate speech incident between the school administration and the Pacifica waterpolo students to addressing it publicly once the videos resurfaced. This demonstrates the underlying cultural problem in the school administration ineffectively addressing the incident before the hate speech videos resurfaced. The motivations would be related to the desire of maintaining a good reputation at the cost of voicing against hate speech. Only when our actions are put into light do we face reality and the consequences that come from remaining silent.

Works Cited

Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. “Rethinking Racism: Toward a Structural Interpretation.” American Sociological Review, vol. 62, no. 3, 1997

CNN, Cable News Network, https://m.cnn.com/en/article/h_d6f8db5ab5f4cfb8b2449380519adbd7.

Hall, Stuart, Sut Jhally, Sanjay Talreja, and Mary Patierno. Representation & the Media. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2002.

Hiemer, Ernst, and Philipp Rupprecht. The Poisonous Mushroom. National Socialist American Labor Party Publishing, 1938.

Race - The Power of an Illusion. Dir. Christine Herbes-Sommers, Jean Cheng, Larry Adelman, Llewellyn Smith, Tracy Strain. California Newsreel, 2003. Kanopy. Web.

Simon, Mallory, and Sara Sidner. “Anne Frank's Stepsister Meets Teens Who Partied with Swastika.” CNN, Cable News Network, 8 Mar. 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/08/us/california-holocaust-survivor-talks-to-students/index.html.


Created with an image by Michael Fousert - "untitled image"