Yesterday I heard a really troubling update on that story about the California students who were sent home for wearing the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. I first wrote about it in “Tail starting to wag the dog in U.S.”
For starters, the principal who sent the kids home has admitted that doing so was a mistake and he has apologized. Okay, I thought; that’s a good start. However, he won’t be disciplined or fired. That’s not so good. We have enough problems in our schools without retaining administrators like this.
However, what I really didn’t need to hear was that the 150 or so Mexican-American students who marched in protest after the incident all felt the same as the girl quoted last week. They all felt the display of the American flag on Cinco de Mayo was “disrespecting” them.
I’d like to think those kids weren’t saying the mere presence of the American flag was offensive to them. I’d like to think they were angry, not because the boys were wearing flag shirts, but because they said or did deliberately offensive things. I’d like to think that America’s kids today, regardless of their backgrounds, are still Americans at heart.
I’d like to think these kids are being taught the right things at home and that they just got a little out of hand at school –even though a subsequent parents’ meeting ended in a shouting match over the same issue.
I’d like to think these things; I really would. But then the reporter closed his story by asking one of the Mexican-American girls what she thought about the whole situation.
Paraphrasing: “Well, like, we wouldn’t go waving Mexican flags on the Fourth of July… ”
What do these kids not understand about flags, respect, freedom, and being Americans? Don’t they understand that the American flag is never out of place in America? And that if they want to wave Mexican flags on the Fourth of July or any other day, they can? Why is this even an issue? Why are they turning it into us vs. them?
I’ve considered that I may be old and out of touch. I’ve considered that the world may have changed while I haven’t. I’ve even considered that my grasp of reality might have slipped a peg or two. But I refuse to be cast as someone trying to strip these kids of their identities, their freedom of expression, and their self-respect.
I am not a Borg.