Add North Carolina evangelist Franklin Graham to the chorus of leaders condemning a southern California teacher and city council member who allegedly told his history class that the U.S. military is made up of “the lowest of our low.”
A student reportedly captured the comments by teacher Gregory Salcido's using his cell phone, and the video has been watched thousands of times on social media.
Graham sent out a series of tweets to his 1.4 million followers about the controversy on Thursday. They were retweeted more than 1,000 times.
“A California teacher ranted to students that our military were ‘Not intellectual people…The lowest of our low.’ I wonder how he thinks they operate nuclear submarines, navigate deep space, and take command of the battlefield to defeat whatever enemy is before us?” tweeted Graham. “Mr. Salcido owes these students & our military a formal apology.”
Salcido teaches history at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera and also serves on the town council. The community is in southeastern Los Angeles County.
The Orange County Register reports three videos of Salcido making the statements were posted on social media. It also reports Salcido posted a statement Friday to his personal Facebook page, which said: “I don’t think it’s wise for me to make any comments, but I want my friends, family, and students to know we are fine and we respect the rights of free expression for all individuals.”
That statement is now unavailable on Facebook.
One video was shot by Victor Quiñonez, a 17-year-old senior who is planning on joining the military, reported media outlets. His mother, Karen Rodriguez, told CNN her son came to class wearing a Marine Corps sweatshirt on Jan. 19, the day the incident happened.
Salcido reportedly asked the teen to explain the shirt, and that’s when the teacher began stating his opinions on the military, she told CNN.
Among those comments: Military members are “not high-level bankers, they are not academic people, they are not intellectual people...They are the lowest of our low.”
The recording goes on to question why the school allows service members on campus to recruit students: “We don't let pimps come in the school,” Salcido was quoted saying by media outlets.
The Pico Rivera town council released a statement Monday, condemning the statements made in the video.
“We the elected governing body of the City of Pico Rivera unequivocally disagree and condemn the recent comments made by Council member Salcido regarding those individuals who have served or are currently serving in our nation’s military,” says the statement. “The City Council and residents of Pico Rivera are steadfast in the recognition that the contributions by those who have served or are currently serving our country via military service.”