Irvine Mayor Christina Shea at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach.(Tim Berger / Daily Pilot)
University High School

Opinion: Mayor Shea is manipulating the culture of minorities to further her political agenda

Christina Shea, the current interim mayor of Irvine is no stranger to criticism from the public. This Republican candidate had served as the mayor of Irvine from 1996 to 2000 and became interim mayor in 2019 after Donald P. Wagner left office to join the OC Board of Supervisors.

She has been known to openly criticize the BLM protests and has been very outspoken about her opposition to the defunding of the police.

In a “Mayor’s Corner” video, in regards to the BLM protests, Shea commented: “Protesters are burning cars, throwing projectiles at our police officers, breaking windows, looting, violating the law and undermining our community peace.”

Shea has very conveniently left out the other side of the story. 80% appeared to be peaceful, according to new research and USA Today

The violence that Shea is talking about, has oftentimes been spurred by the police or those who use the protests as a cover to commit crimes. To focus on the minority of protests that have turned violent and to misrepresent them as the majority, is ignorant and blatantly biased.

In addition, the police have been reported to retaliate to peaceful protesters with excessive violence, rubber bullets and tear gas. To put it into context, as reported by the New York Times, rubber bullets have been deemed “nonlethal weapons” by law enforcement officials and the military. However, according to the New York Times, research increasingly shows they can seriously injure and disable people — and sometimes even kill.

The fact that the police are even allowed to use this weapon against peaceful, mostly unarmed protesters should be an indication of their violent tendencies. This, however, is of no importance to Shea as she failed to even mention it when talking about the “violent protests.”

All this is her opinion of the protests, and she is entitled to her opinion. What she is not entitled to, however, is to deny and take away those of her opposers.

Shea has been involved in a scandal in which she has allegedly violated the 1st amendment, the right to speech, of residents on her Facebook Page, with regards to BLM. According to the LA Times, Shea deleted comments and blocked those who made comments critiquing her view on the matter. In doing so, she denied the rights of individuals that she has the job of representing. 

In addition to all these, Shea recently posted a video on the City of Irvine Instagram Page, in which she celebrates the Hindu festival — Raksha Bandhan. She gives an overview of the festival for an entire 20 seconds before she brings politics into it.

After explaining the festival and giving a brief description of it, Shea said: “On this day our Hindu community also recognizes our brave police force, first responders, medical personnel for their bravery and sacrifice to protect our community.”

This statement brings about a plethora of problems. 

Raksha Bandhan is a festival that inherently has nothing to do with commemorating the police or first responders, it is only to commemorate the bond between a brother and sister. In addition, although it is true that this year in India, the festival has included the display of gratitude to first responders and the police, to say it is the same in the US is to disregard the intrinsic difference.

The main topic of discussion with the police this year in the US has been about the BLM protests, and these have nothing to do with COVID, and everything to do with politics. For her to misrepresent the Hindu community by implying that they are all against defunding the police, is manipulative and just plain wrong.

Supplementally, the Hindu community consists of individuals of various different ideologies, while some may be against defunding the police, some definitely are for it. Most Hindu Americans can agree that they support first responders in this time of COVID-19, however, the issues surrounding the police have existed long before COVID was even discovered, and has nothing to do with the pandemic.

Lastly, if Shea wanted to show the Hindu American support for those adversely affected by the pandemic, she would have mentioned the medical personnel and first responders before she mentioned the police. However, she did not, she mentioned the police first because she was very clearly bringing her political opinion into it, and using the Hindu American community as a shield against the backlash she may face.

This approach completely backfired as her post was immediately flooded with disapproving and displeased comments from the Indian American community and others. Many comments came from the youth, who were disgusted by the manner in which she was manipulating Hindu culture as a tactic to gain more votes.

Within one to two days, she got around 500 comments, almost all criticizing her post. In posting this Instagram video, Christina Shea not only manipulated a Hindu festival to project her own political views, but she also misrepresented Hindu American voices and used their culture and heritage to extend her own agenda.