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Letter to the Editor:

Common thread between a Nazi salute and cheating on the SAT entrance exam

At first glance, I was hard pressed to see the similarities between the local high school students, who were videotaped March 2nd celebrating their handmade swastika with Nazi salutes, and the local families caught up earlier this week in the college admissions cheating scandal masterminded by Newport’s Rick Singer. 

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. The common thread is privilege which, by definition, means a sense of entitled immunity.

During a community gathering of 500 people two days after the anti-Semitic nature of their actions was revealed, several of the Newport Harbor, CdM and Costa Mesa students admitted they never connected the dots between what they were doing at their off-campus party and the millions of innocents who were slaughtered during WWII. Why not? Because very few of their parents, many of whom are well off, ever explained the horrors of the Holocaust or the vile nature of what Hitler and his fanatical followers really wanted. 

Based on the news reports of the parents who paid tens of thousands of dollars, if not significantly more, to have their kids’ SAT scores altered so they would be admitted to USC, Stanford, Yale and other top schools, you have to ask: What were these parents thinking when they deliberately crossed that moral red line? Like the teens who couldn’t connect the dots, apparently neither could these helicopter moms or dads. Somewhere in the recesses of their minds, I’m guessing they felt their sons or daughters were entitled to be admitted at all costs, even if it meant cheating and/or breaking the law.

If there is a takeaway for me it is this: No matter how beautiful the landscape is along the county coastline, there is an ugliness that exists in the homes of far too many of our neighbors. We all know it is a privilege to live here. That said, we all have to do a better job conveying what this means to our children and the responsibility we all must bear when it comes to playing by the rules – no matter how painful the outcome is if or when things don’t go as expected.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach