Andrew Cruz commented at the Sept. 6 meeting of the Chino Valley Unified School District board that “it wasn’t Hitler that was bad, it was the people who followed the laws and the agenda.”

By David Allen | dallen@scng.com | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Published: September 11, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Updated: September 11, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Andrew Cruz, the Chino Valley Unified School District board member who sometimes makes puzzling and offensive pronouncements, now seems to be making excuses for Hitler.

I missed the Sept. 6 board meeting, alas, but the video is online. There was a long and emotionally charged hearing involving sex education and parental rights. Cruz, who attends the conservative Calvary Chapel megachurch, spoke for five minutes on the slippery slope he sees with transgender students, gender-neutral bathrooms and abortion.

“Common sense tells, the sermon tells, the direction of our country. So we have to get parental rights. Even if there’s policies that tell us not to, forget that,” Cruz said. “You know, Hitler, with Germany, it wasn’t Hitler that was bad,” Cruz mused. “It was the people who followed the laws and the agenda. And it went further and further and went out of control.” He added: “Local (control) is so important, when we take charge for our own community and for our own kids.”

A round of applause is heard. If anyone threw in a “Jawohl!,” the audio didn’t pick it up.

I’m not even sure where to begin with this. But having just visited Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi extermination camp, I have to say I’m a little surprised we’re having this discussion. I wasn’t aware we had to make a choice between who was bad, Hitler or the rank-and-file Nazis. I assumed, perhaps naively, that they were all bad.

Is this really the line of thinking by an elected official in the bucolic Chino Valley, that Hitler was a poor, misunderstood fuhrer and events spiraled away from his original vision?

Since the camera was trained on the dais, where amateur historian/sociologist Cruz sits, it’s unclear from the video if anyone reacted negatively to a seemingly pro-Hitler comment. I didn’t hear any objections. So on Monday I phoned Irene Hernandez-Blair, one of the board members and a Cruz opponent, to ask what she observed facing the audience.

“What I recall, he received applause, did he not?” Hernandez-Blair said.

He did. I mentioned that a half-dozen members of the public spoke shortly afterward, and none of them objected either.

“Those speakers,” Hernandez-Blair said, “were the ones who applauded.”

She did perceive some head-shaking and murmurs, but she said “it was overshadowed by the applause.”

Because she’s not board president, as she was when she challenged some of Cruz’s wackier comments in 2015 – more on that in a moment – Hernandez-Blair didn’t feel comfortable objecting this time. Besides, she added of Cruz’s monologue, “There was a lot that he said. That was just one thing he said.”

That’s true too.

To read expanded article, click here.