Stinko de Mayo/Live Oak High School and The American Flag


On May 5, five students at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Calif., were sent home for wearing clothing featuring the American flag. Their offense: trespassing on Mexican heritage during Cinco de Mayo. Administrators called the flag-wearing “incendiary” and likely to cause violence. The school district overrode the decision, and the boys were allowed to return to school. In response yesterday, about 200 students staged a walkout carrying Mexican flags. The question is: Who taught these kids to hate America so much?

There should be nothing disrespectful about the U.S. flag to Americans of Mexican descent or to any other immigrant group. Teaching children that their heritage is at odds with their citizenship promotes disunity and divisiveness. While the high school’s administrators may have been responding to a real public-safety threat, that threat was the product of their failure to instill a sense of national pride in their students.

Identity politics has become such a staple of public life and education in recent decades that incidents like this illustrate the poisonous effects it has on the nation. In the past, immigrant groups would attempt to outdo each other in demonstrating their patriotic attachment to the country that gave them safety, opportunity and freedom. Today, immigrant activist groups think patriotism is at best an inconvenience, at worst a sellout. They have replaced the melting pot with hardening battle lines in a struggle for power.

It is odd that Cinco de Mayo has become a focus of conflict. In Mexico, it is a relatively unimportant, mainly local holiday. But in the United States, it has become the de facto Mexican nationalist day, a far cry from its origins in the 1980s as a marketing gimmick by beer importers to sell brews that taste best with lime wedges.

This is only the latest instance of Old Glory being forced into the closet. In 2006, a Colorado school seeking to placate Mexican nationalists banned the American flag. After a mass student protest, Mexican flags were banned as well. In 2008, Dos Palos, Calif., high school student Jake Shelly was forced to remove a red, white and blue tie-dyed American-flag T-shirt he had worn to school because he was in violation of a dress code banning “shirts/blouses that promote specific races, cultures, or ethnicities.” In 2007, students at Hobbton High School in Sampson County, N.C., were not allowed to wear American-flag-themed clothes on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks because of a general school prohibition on garments featuring flags. The superintendent of schools said that “educators didn’t want to be forced to pick and choose which flags should be permissible.”

Not all flags are created equal. Some flags may be fashion statements, but the American flag is the patriotic symbol of the nation in which we live. This is why the American flag flies outside schools as opposed to, say, Zimbabwe’s. Schools should spend less time telling patriotic students not to cause a ruckus simply by wearing the national colors and more time teaching the kids who are offended by the American flag how wrongheaded their views are. This might require teachers and administrators to begin making value judgments and moral choices for the benefit of the children they are charged with educating. The Stars and Stripes should be a proud statement of unity for all.

The American Flag is Disrespectful on Cinco De Mayo?

by Greg Knapp

We’ve reached a new low. A high school disciplined students for wearing American flag t-shirts to school because they did so on Cinco de Mayo. As some of the students of Mexican descent explained – “That’s ‘our’ day.”

“We knew it was Cinco de Mayo. But we just came to show our flag,” said student Dominic Maciel. “We didn’t mean anything by it. We didn’t want to start anything. Nothing like that.”

We obviously aren’t teaching our kids well. They should know that the American flag is offensive in America! I blame the parents.

Student Anthony Caravalho was also sent home for not turning his shirt inside out. “They said we had to wear our t-shirts inside out and then we could go back to class and we said no,” said Caravalho. “It would be disrespectful to the flag by hiding it.”

It’s our flag that’s disrespectful. They could have avoided trouble and been hailed as tolerant if they’d burned the American flag t-shirts.

Some Mexican-American students KTVU spoke with said they thought wearing red, white and blue on Cinco de Mayo was disrespectful. “It’s just kinda disrespectful that they would do that on this day,” said student Victoria Wright. “I mean, we don’t go around on 4th of July wearing red white and green and saying ‘Viva Mexico,’ because that’s disrespectful.”

Sure they live in America, they’re getting a free education at taxpayers expense, and they have tremendous opportunities here they wouldn’t have in Mexico, but they want to celebrate the country their parents couldn’t wait to get out of. That makes perfect sense. Huh?

I am a first generation American. My mother came over from England after WWII. My grandfather died flying for the RAF. But I don’t see England as my country. I’m an American and proud of it. I like England and I respect my ancestry, but I LOVE America and never find flying her flag disrespectful. The vast majority of legal immigrants feel as I do. I don’t understand the ones who don’t.

Dominic Maciel said his father is of Mexican descent. “I have no problem with them wearing their Mexican stuff, their Mexican flags,” said Maciel. “I just thought I’d show my pride. American pride.”

Way to go, Dominic. I’m not easily shocked by how far we’ve gone in the PC game. But this one got me today.