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Spare me

By Tony Hicks
Thursday, May 6th, 2010 at 1:14 pm in Uncategorized.

I love the story about the five “patriotic” boys at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, who wore American flag shirts to school in the Hispanic-heavy (as opposed to heavy Hispanics) school on Cinco de Mayo.

A vice principal asked them to turn their shirts inside out, or remove their American flag bandannas, as to not provoke the Mexican-American students on their holiday. The boys refused, then were sent to the principal’s office, and were sent home (but not suspended) as to avoid problems with the other kids.

This, of course, has touched off a firestorm of criticism among the people who (correctly) say the boys have a right to wear the shirts on May 5 if they have the right to wear them on May 6. Technically, that’s true. And, technically, bad judgement isn’t illegal in America. Especially among high-schoolers (In my case, high school was pretty much four years of bad judgement).

But the kids’ parents, in all their outrage about how it’s “absolutely ridiculous” that the kids can’t display their “patriotic nature,” and are apparently believing the boys when they say it was just a “normal” day, are completely kidding themselves.

I suppose those kids wearing their flag gear on the same day, on Cinco de Mayo (bandannas … really?) was just a coincidence. C’mon mom and dad – your kids were either trying to incite the Mexican kids, or were playing games to see how far they could push them. Cinco de Mayo has nothing to do with American patriotism – though America has certainly co-opted the holiday as an excuse to drink and act stupid. Cinco de Mayo is not an anti-American holiday (if the kids were wearing French flags, it would make more sense – as long as they were French) and it was, at the very least, a lame move that could’ve ended up badly.

The school administrators – though technically wrong – may have done everyone a tremendous favor by diffusing the situation. Put it this way: If the American flag wavers had been the victim of violence because of their shirts, who would the parents be blaming? That’s right – the school administration for, at the very least, not diffusing the situation. It’s really a no-win deal.

My dad was a teacher and school administrator who told me stories that never failed to make me wonder why anyone would do such a thankless job. I thought he was nuts.

But I also have to be honest – if one of those flag-wavers was my kid, I’d probably defend them the same way. Though I’d like to think that I would advise my kid that perhaps it wasn’t the right day to cover himself in American flags at school. Unless, of course, he wanted conflict.

But again – if you respect the flag and what it stands for, you have to let the kids wear the shirts. Unless, of course, you’re a school administrator who doesn’t want a riot on his hands. That’s a tough spot I wouldn’t want to be in.

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