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Daniel Hernandez: The face of what’s right in America — A lot is being made about the fact that the young intern credited with saving Congresswoman Giffords’ life, Daniel Hernandez, is gay and Latino. As the sub headline of a Salon article stated: “Daniel Hernandez helped save the congresswoman’s life — and yes, his sexuality and ethnicity matter.”

daniel.jpgThough he didn’t ask for all this adulation, 20-year-old Hernandez has illustrated grace, eloquence and maturity that underscore the very reasons why it is such an injustice to vilify gays and Latinos to further a particular political agenda.

Daniel Hernandez

In a state where the elected officials have failed both groups miserably, Hernandez, whether he likes it or not, stands as a shining example to counter today’s hateful rhetoric.

As the author of the Salon article writes:

It matters because guys like Arizona Sen. John McCain, who described the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” as “a very sad day,” still think that orientation has an effect on whether or not a person can ably serve in the military. It matters because the notion that two people of the same sex can love each other and build a life together is still considered in many parts of the country, including Arizona, a threat to what is laughably referred to as “traditional marriage” — as if heterosexuals have really mopped up the floor with this whole commitment thing.

It matters because last week, when Arizona banned a Tucson district’s Mexican-American studies program, state’s Attorney General Tom Horne referred to it as “propagandizing and brainwashing.” It matters because just last year Arizona enacted a law that would not merely allow but require immigration officials to determine the immigration status of anyone “where reasonable suspicion exists” that the person might be in the country illegally. And “reasonable suspicion,” as many civil libertarians pointed out, might just boil down to having a darker shade of skin or speaking Spanish.

That’s just Hernandez’s home of Arizona. And though Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik scathingly referred to his state as “a mecca for racism and bigotry,” violence, racism and bigotry aren’t confined to any one ZIP code — they exist all over this great land of ours. They exist just as surely as Hernandez shows that kindness and bravery are alive and well in Arizona.

Hernandez’s selfless act resonated with the American people just as much as the violence immediately triggered a national outcry for civility among politicians, political wannabes and talk radio and cable network talk shows without even knowing the shooter’s motivation.

In a country where a small group have tried to convince the rest of the nation that Latinos and gays are unworthy individuals, Hernandez’s actions speak volumes and show that there is hope for this country among a new generation of Americans.

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