In Morgan Hill, Calif., yesterday, five Live Oak High School students were sent home for wearing T-shirts featuring American flags. Administrators ruled the shirts “incendiary.”
Excuse me? You can’t wear the American flag in America? No. Not in that school, not on May 5th, not on Cinco de Mayo.
“They said we could wear it on any other day, but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today,” explained one of the T-shirt wearers.
“I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day,” said a Mexican-American student. “We don’t deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn’t do that on Fourth of July.”
Disrespected!? That girl and anyone who thinks like her needs a serious attitude adjustment. Hers is precisely the attitude that’s fueling anti-immigration sentiment in America today. She’s an American (presumably) in America. She was accorded the ultimate respect the day she was born or became an American, with all the inherent rights and privileges. (Her parents and teachers should have taught her that long before now.) She is given respect and recognition when Americans from all backgrounds celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Her heritage and culture is respected every bit as much as any other in America. But Irish-Americans don’t object to American flags on St. Patrick’s Day, nor French-Americans on Bastille Day, nor Canadian-Americans on Canada Day, nor African-Americans during Kwanzaa.
The school administrators made a really bad call in the “political correctness” department. Whether in the classroom or by example, they should be teaching civics and what it means to be an American. They should be teaching tolerance, patriotism, history, and respect for the American flag. Doing so should not include removing American flags in deference to a vocal minority with a distorted sense of where their loyalties lie.
If Mexican-Americans, or any other hyphenated Americans, genuinely feel they are being disrespected, put down, belittled, insulted, or offended in any way by a display of this nation’s flag, then they should seriously reconsider their country of residence. They’ll never be happy here.
In America we respect, remember, and celebrate our cultural diversity, but we are, first and foremost, Americans.