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May. 6 2010 - 1:07 pm | 176 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Outrageous Outrage of the Day

The wingnut blogosphere is fuming and hissing with outrage over this story today: Students Kicked Off Campus for Wearing American Flag Tees.

What? They were kicked out of school just for wearing US flag clothing? Outrage!

But as usual with these trumped up nontroversies, there’s a bit more to the story. Is it possible they weren’t just expressing their patriotism, but were in fact using the American flag as a deliberate insult to Hispanic students? Why yes, it is.

On any other day at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Daniel Galli and his four friends would not even be noticed for wearing T-shirts with the American flag. But Cinco de Mayo is not any typical day especially on a campus with a large Mexican American student population.

Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the vice principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal’s office.

They said we could wear it on any other day,” Daniel Galli said, “but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today.”

The boys said the administrators called their T-shirts “incendiary” that would lead to fights on campus.

What school principal wouldn’t have done the same thing? Don’t they have a responsibility to maintain order in school? And if so, isn’t it blindingly obvious that they need to take action when students do things that are designed to create conflict and bad feelings?

How would these bloggers feel if a group of Mexican students came to school wearing Mexican flags on July 4th? The hypocrisy reeks.


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  1. collapse expand

    Point taken re the hypocrisy of the “wingnut blogosphere,” but C’MON!: Kids being thrown out of school for wearing American-flag paraphernalia (in a non-ironic / non-sarcastic manner)? REALLY? I am sorry, but that is absolutely ludicrous. As much as it pains me EVER to agree with the denizens of the wingnut blogosphere, I feel that I must in this instance.

    If the students had worn shirts saying: “Dirty Spicks … go back to Guadalajara!” or “We speak American here, you dumb Mexican frijoles!” I could absolutely understand why the school’s actions would have been justified (particularly on May 5). A closer case, but still ultimately justifiable, would be a shirt with a less deliberately offensive but equally nativist slogan (e.g., “Here in the U.S.A. – English only” or some such). However, just clothing adorned with AMERICAN FLAGS?

    But, you might say, the intent of the students in this case was clear, to antagonize students of Mexican descent on Cinco de Mayo. That intent, you might argue, is enough to justify the school’s actions, which were not meant to suppress speech but to maintain discipline and order.

    And I would respond: HOGWASH.

    In certain cases, when symbols are worn, the intent of the wearer is simply irrelevant. For example, it is never justifiable to wear a swastika, no matter how innocent (or hapless) the intent of the wearer, nor how unlikely the symbol will be to offend others with whom the wearer will likely come into contact. (See William, Prince.) Swastikas are objectively offensive, and the wearer should know better.

    Conversely, I would posit that it is ALWAYS appropriate to wear an American flag in the United States (in a respectful manner), no matter what the wearer’s intent. The American flag is a symbol that every resident of this nation, no matter his or her nationality, political inclination, etc., should be capable of embracing (or, at the very least, feel comfortable with others embracing).

    By sending students wearing clothing adorned with American flags home on Cinco de Mayo, the school made the meaning of the American flag qua symbol less objective / uncontestable, i.e., it gave official recognition to the grievance that students of Mexican descent apparently feel when faced with the American flag. Stated differently, by sending the American-flag wearers home, the school implicitly communicated that the American flag, rather than being an inherently inoffensive symbol that unites us all, is instead a symbol of Caucasian / nativist xenophobic.

    Free speech concerns entirely aside, that is hardly the lesson in citizenship that I think an American public school should be instilling in its students, whether white or Chicano.

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