White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said on Wednesday that the California teacher and city councilman who described those in the military as the “lowest of the low” can “go to hell.”
Last week, Gregory Salcido — a government teacher at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, near Los Angeles — told his class, “Think about the people who you know who are over there. Your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whatever. They’re dumbs‑‑‑s.”
He added that those in the military are “not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people. They’re the lowest of our low.” A video of the teacher’s comments went viral on social media.
On his radio program, Fox News personality Brian Kilmeade asked Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, what he thought of Salcido’s sentiments.
“I think the guy ought to go to hell. I just hope he enjoys the liberties and the lifestyle that we have fought for,” the combat veteran responded.
In addition to serving in the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom himself, Kelly’s 29-year-old son, Robert, was killed in action while leading a platoon of Marines in Afghanistan in 2010.
The Orange County Register reported Salcido’s comments came in response to a student in his class wearing a sweatshirt with a Marine Corps logo on it.
Gold Star Mother Karen Vaughn also condemned Salcido’s remarks, respectfully requesting that the teacher join her in Arlington National Cemetery where her son is buried for a conversation about patriotism.
The El Rancho United School District is investigating the matter and the teacher has been placed on administrative leave, according to the Whittier Daily News.
“We cannot expose the disciplinary measures because it is a personnel matter, but there will be disciplinary measures taken,” district superintendent Karling Aguilera-Fort told the Register.
“Our first priority is to assure the community that what was said does not reflect the values of the El Rancho community and the El Rancho board,” he further stated.
In addition to being placed on administrative leave by the school district, Salcido has been removed from his committee assignments on the Pico Rivera Council, where he serves, The Washington Post reported.
“I and my fellow council members strongly disagree with Mr. Salcido’s point of view,” Mayor Gustavo Camacho told The Post. “Quite frankly, we denounce his statements.”
He explained that Pico Rivera, which is a predominantly Latino community, was founded by veterans after World War II and maintains a strong connection to the military.
“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.”
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