'USA' chant deemed racist

Texas high school forced to apologize to rival


This is a rush transcript from "The Five," March 7, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CO-HOST: We begin tonight with an uproar in Texas over words chanted by the crowd at a high school basketball game. What was the word? "USA."

Here's the back story. Alamo Heights High School beats Edison High on Saturday in San Antonio. Now, Alamo's team is made up mostly of Caucasian students. Edison's team is predominantly Hispanic.

After the trophy presentation, screams of "USA, USA" kind of just like that, came from Alamo Heights fan. That chant was ultimately perceived by some as a racial insult, by the school district of the mostly Hispanic team.

Now, the other school has been forced to apologize, but was any apology even in order?

Andrea, I come to you on this story. It's very controversial. A lot of people talking about this, of course, varying opinions. And we've reached out, of course, to the superintendent and the school district. And we'll have a little bit of that later.

But what's your initial reaction when you heard this story?

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: Yes, the "USA" chant is something that goes back to, I did a little research, 1980. The ice hockey game in the Olympics. That's where it started. And you saw students chanting "USA, USA" outside the White House when Bin Laden was killed.

And admittedly, sometimes, in college, we chant "USA, USA" at beer pong tournaments like big heads.

GUILFOYLE: Allegedly.

TANTAROS: I don't see -- allegedly, right. I don't see the issue here with this.

Look, I think that kids can say things that can be incentive and feelings can get hurt. But when we start to go after kids for just saying, "USA, USA" and saying that they were attacked. An that's what this school district is alleging these kids were attacked by this language -- it's crazy to me.

My dad was an immigrant. Kimberly, your dad was an immigrant. If we started chanting "USA, USA," our fathers probably would have chanted it back. I don't think this is an insult at all.

GUILFOYLE: Juan, how did you take this story?

JUAN WILLIAMS, CO-HOST: Well, I just can't understand how anybody cannot understand -- feel the weight of what was a racially antagonistic statement being made by these kids. You know, it was one of these moments -- just listening to Andrea, you know, clearly, this is not an international competition.

This is something going on with kids in the next neighborhood where mostly Hispanics. So, it's a mostly white school and mostly Hispanic school, and it was clearly intended as a taunt, as in, oh, the white American kids have defeated you others, you know?

And I think that's just very divisive in American life.


TANTAROS: Have you ever watched soccer games in other countries, though? I lived in France and the French kids chant "Viva la France." And there's plenty of northern Africans that aren't really considered French, Moroccans, Tunisians, Algerians. This is what people do.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Wait, wait, this is divisive?

GUILFOYLE: Go ahead, Eric.

BOLLING: I love you, Juan. But what you just said was divisive.

These are two schools in Texas -- Texas school. When did it become racist to be patriotic?

WILLIAMS: It's not about patriotism.

BOLLING: Why is it not?

WILLIAMS: They're both American teams.

BOLLING: Exactly. So, why can't yell "USA"? What if American --


WILLIAMS: This is not about --

BOLLING: If they play San Antonio tonight, and win, and say, "USA," is that racist?

WILLIAMS: Hey, Eric, guess what? No one would say "USA." It's totally out of context, inappropriate. No one, everybody was saying, why bother "USA"? A team from Dallas and San Antonio, teams from New York?

GUILFOYLE: If it was a team made up of mostly black students, black players, would it be a problem if they said, "USA"? Would anybody --

WILLIAMS: No, the taunt would have been something else. I mean, this reminds me when people got upset when the Mexican team was playing the U.S. team in L.A. and the Mexican showed en masse because they were real soccer fans and they're the ones who then started cheering for Mexico and waving the Mexican flag. People said this is America, don't do it. I understood that. There is a context there.

And there is a context here.

GUILFOYLE: Dana, I want to get --


BOLLING: In to America and chanting the Mexican --

WILLIAMS: No, no, no, they were American citizens but they're from Mexico. And they were chanting for the Mexican team over the American team.

GUILFOYLE: But, look, Dana, look at these two guys, both of them, we're all Americans here at this table. You've got the American flag on. You are a patriot. Eric Bolling has a flag on.

I mean, why is this different, Dana? Perhaps it is. What are your thoughts?

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: Well, I think as a person who supporting local and state control of school districts and allowing principals and superintendents to make their own decisions and not have the federal government be doing that for them, I think that these adults exercised their best judgment.

A taunt or something -- a word that can be seen neutral as someone else can be taken as an insult if used in a way that is meant for it to be insulting.

GUILFOYLE: Was it racist? Do you believe that was the intention?

PERINO: I don't think it's racist. I think that the -- I think it does bear out some of the immigration debate.

I think Juan's point is the best one here. It wasn't like they were playing somebody from Venezuela. They were playing for somebody -- against somebody who is just their neighbor. And they saw it as a taunt -- but here's the thing. "USA" is --


GUILFOYLE: And it's a border state.

PERINO: Not necessarily. It could happen anywhere, but it's more likely to happen in Texas. I think there's oversensitivity to it -- if I could just finish. There is oversensitivity to it.

But I also think that we have to expect the local school districts be able to make their own decisions, that we should let them make their own decisions. And the school district -- the superintendent, he had a great statement. I thought the statement was very well done.

GUILFOYLE: We have that. We can put it up here. San Antonio independent school district says, quote, "Some question why chant of 'USA' is wrong. It's not wrong in appropriate context. Often, it is heard in international events in support of our country versus another. If this chant was commonplace -- chanted regularly at games with other high schools, it would not be an issue. In this case, it was targeted at a school that is predominantly Hispanic."


GUILFOYLE: That's your problem?

PERINO: I don't have a problem with chanting "USA." I have a problem with it if it was intended to be something that the adults in the room thought was -- and also the school apologizing is not making a big deal out of it. They knew what they were doing as well. So, I just think that --

BOLLING: Well, the coach of the school may not be making a big deal out of it, Dana. But I think the people, the parents of the kids -- what's wrong with chanting "USA"? You're proud.

PERINO: It's like saying establishment to me.


PERINO: It's like the same logic. Something that a word. I chant "USA" when we watch the Olympics. When we went to the Olympic Games, and we go to the Olympic and watched the coverage, like chanting "USA." But if it was, we all get it here. C'mon.


BOLLING: Here's what I'm saying. I think the political correctness -- the politically correctness of what they're doing, they're apologizing for chanting "USA" within the USA playing another team from the USA who likely has legal American citizens on the basketball team. I find absolutely --

PERINO: How do you know that? How can you possibly say that?

BOLLING: Well, if it doesn't, then I have a bigger problem with it.

PERINO: That they have illegal students --

BOLLING: I mean, if that's what we're saying, they are making a statement on illegal immigration, then maybe we have a different discussion.

TANTAROS: Well, what Eric is trying to say --

PERINO: They're kids.

TANTAROS: Well, that's the point. They're kids. I think kids say dumb things.

And I will say this again, young boys, this "USA" chant, this is the sort of meathead thing that they do. And kids make bad decisions.

And I just think it's dangerous for administrators to say, OK, Eric, that flag there, where does it end after "USA"? That flag on your shirt. USA t-shirt, Fourth of July. When does it become an insult and when is it --

WILLIAMS: No, that's actually happened. That happened out West.

TANTAROS: We talked about that.

WILLIAMS: Yes, that happened. And I think we talked about it on this show, where a kid comes in, in a t-shirt with the American flag on it intentionally, almost like you would wear gang colors.

TANTAROS: Then you're questioning the motive. And these are all American students, that's what Bolling is saying --


WILLLIAMS: No, no, I'm not questioning the motive. We're all sitting here in New York City. We know from the reporting in Texas --

GUILFOYLE: One second, I want to get to a statement --

BOLLING: I know, but one more thought. It's not that different from Tim Tebow after a game wanting to take a knee and pray and people around him getting offended. He is doing what he believes is an expression of what he believes in.

I have no problem with the high school kids winning a game going "USA."

GUILFOYLE: But it's not an allegation of racism. It's a freedom of religion issue.

But let's hear -- because we reached out to the office of the superintendent, Dr. Kevin Brown. He says, quote, "We are somewhat perplexed by the media attention, which is now on national level. We are receiving some very hateful phone calls from some who say we are anti- American and some who say we are racist. We are neither. We love our country and neighbors, regardless of ethnicity, race or religion and we have the highest respects for the students, staff and the community of San Antonio."

WILLIAMS: Isn't that what they teach?

BOLLING: How are they not teaching it, Juan?

WILLIAMS: No, no, that's what they are teaching by saying to these young people, don't taunt these guys just because --

BOLLING: Be careful how you celebrate? Be careful you don't say "USA" after a --

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