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Xavier Hermosillo is the President of, a national Crisis Communications, Marketing, and Management firm he founded 23 years ago. He is a former political chief of staff, an award-winning reporter and photographer, and a former radio talk show host and TV commentator in Los Angeles. He has co-founded two publicly-traded companies where he served as a member of the Board of Directors and as the Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications. He has also served as a Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission on police officer discipline cases, and holds degrees in Administration of Justice and Business and Communications. He can be reached at

Media reports claim the U.S. has never been so divided, and it’s all blamed on politics. There’s much more to our divisions than just politics, including witches and wife swappers.

There is no question that the development of the “Blue State-Red State” mentality in the world of presidential politics tries to place each of us on one side or the other, as if we HAVE to live in opposite worlds. When the news media buys into this hysteria, or worse, promotes it, all it does is promote the worst in our society. It degrades America, whether you fancy yourself as a Democrat, a Republican, an alternative, or none of the above.

There are many ways to gauge where we are as a nation, and yes, we have our problems. Some of these problems are getting worse than they should, but there is also evidence we can still go down the right path toward the greatness we believe in as a free nation.

Let me give you two examples to show you why we must constantly monitor the social environment around us and report to our audiences where we are, so we can either stay the course, or change our direction.

The first example that we are still in good shape comes in the almost unbelievable form of one of those new, dreaded (for many) reality shows. After four or five weeks of watching “Wife Swap” I think we have learned that what’s good in America shines brightly and therefore, the show does a good job of showing us where we are as a nation. We have also seen that selfishness, unchecked egos, laziness, sloth, and the rest of what’s bad for America, stands out like a sore thumb.

As difficult as this may be to swallow, we may actually have a reality show on our hands with socially redeeming values. I contend that “Wife Swap” is actually a good barometer of how united we are as a nation as opposed to how divided we might be. Unfortunately, except for this show, we don’t see much of this social reading in our news media reporting.

A couple of recent episodes have featured mothers who came from very wealthy settings and whose focus was very egocentric. They ended up switching places with women from working class, blue collar rural families who scraped by on hard work and lived fairly simple lives, although they worked extremely hard.

What we have seen is that by the end of the show, the values of the poorer, hard-working, get-up-at-four-in-the-morning rural folks prevail. The lessons learned here are significant for both sides. The mother with the rich background invariably finds she has not spent enough time with her family because she has been too focused on keeping herself svelte or dressed in the latest styles.

The rural family, we find, usually learns that their moms (and sometimes their kids) need to be appreciated more and should not be taken for granted, or viewed simply as laborers.

The one thing we don’t really know about these folks, and thankfully we don’t need to know, is which of the families are Democrat or Republican. We can guess, but simply being rural doesn’t make you Democrat and being rich is not automatically the province of Republicans.

What prevails is the value system that has been inbred into us as Americans, regardless of our political heritage or beliefs. And that’s one of the great bright spots today in the U.S.

Let that be a lesson to all of us to stop talking division and start reporting reality. We have allowed John Kerry and George Bush to define who or what is a “uniter” versus a “divider” and that’s not their job. It’s the media’s job to give Americans the facts and let us all decide whether or not we can get along and prosper as a free people.

Having said that, we must also look at how far some of us have strayed in our country from another type of reality. We often hear people talk about “political correctness” and we generally tend to show Democrats as the “feel good” types and Republicans as the hardliners.

A developing story in the increasingly liberal state of Washington gives us a good look at “political correctness” run amok.

The city of Puyallup, Washington is a small, working-class community just southeast of Tacoma; population of 33,000; with women constituting 52 per cent of the community, and a median age of 34 years. It has become a popular relocation site in recent years for Californians fleeing smog, crime, high real estate prices, and seeking a new life in the fresh-air forests of the Northwest.

Perhaps that recent migration is part of the explanation for another indicator of where we are as a nation. And I hope this indicator is limited only to places like Puyallup.

The school district in this little town is claiming that Halloween is disrespectful to Witches. Yes, you heard right, WITCHES! And therefore, the school district is canceling its annual Halloween celebration. Apparently the GRADE-SCHOOL tradition of a party and parade in costume during the last half-hour of class before Halloween night is more than the witches can handle. No broom pun intended.

A letter sent home to parents cites three reasons for the executive decision to ban the Halloween observance, and two of the reasons sound reasonable. Ah, but that’s the trick. Give two reasonable reasons and then slip in the whammy for the witches.

The school superintendent who made the decision claimed three primary reasons. First, he said Halloween parties and parades waste valuable classroom time. Second, he says some families can't afford costumes and the celebrations thus can create embarrassment for children.

Okay, both of these reasons seem sensible and they initially went over with many of the school parents. But the district's third reason left some Puyallup parents shaking their heads. The district education boss says Halloween celebrations and children dressed in Halloween costumes might “be offensive to real witches.”

To further clarify his point, Superintendent Tony Apostle is quoted as saying, "Witches with pointy noses and things like that are not respective symbols of the Wiccan religion and so we want to be respectful of that." The Wiccan, or Pagan, eligion is said to be growing in the United States and there are some Wiccan groups in Puyallup.

How is such an extreme position possible? The district's list of guidelines related to holidays and celebrations is an item that reads: "Use of derogatory stereotypes is prohibited, such as the traditional image of a witch, which is offensive to members of the Wiccan religion."

A Wiccan spokeswitch says her broom-riding brood "does lots of things that are not revolving around wearing a black outfit and stirring a cauldron." Wiccan priestess Cheryl Sulyma-Masson says Wiccans, or Pagan Clergy, simply celebrate nature.

In case you’re wondering, this is not the first time the district has expressed concern about offending followers of the Wiccan religion. An internal e-mail from October 2000 warned that "the Wiccan religion is a bona fide religion under the law, and its followers are entitled to all the protections afforded more mainstream religions. Building administrators should not tolerate such inappropriate stereotyping (images such as Witches on flying brooms, stirring cauldrons, casting spells, or with long noses and pointed hats) and instead address them as you would hurtful stereotypes of any other minority."

Wow!! Are witches now protected just like Blacks and Mexicans? Who’s next, Klingons? Who sets the “minority” standard?

How do the kids feel about the decision? They’re upset. They don’t understand the logic behind the decision and they view that last half hour as a time for fun, costumes, and the other attendant benefits of being in an elementary school.

There is good news, however, about the howling protests that followed the edict to ban the Halloween festivities during the last half hour of classes. The PTA and teachers have just been notified that they can hold parties or other Halloween events AFTER the school day is over. Apparently the moms and dads figured out the superintendent’s control of the Halloween experience ends when the final school bell rings.

Thank goodness for that fresh dose of sanity. There IS hope for America, even in the “divided” city of Puyallup where parents “united” to overcome a stupid, politically-correct decision.