I’m sure you’ve all heard by now about the 5 California high school students sent home for wearing American flag apparel (shirts and headbands) on Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday commemorating a Mexican victory over the French.
A number of Hispanic students were supposedly upset that the Anglo students were “disrespecting” them and their heritage by wearing the American colors on a day that the Hispanic students were celebrating their heritage.
I think the school’s decision was ridiculous, and frankly, violates the students’ First Amendment rights. They were not demonstrating, harassing, or in any way trying to offend anyone, their shirts were not obscene or in violation of school dress codes. So what was the problem?
The problem, as I’ve discussed before, is one of tolerance.
For better or worse, we live in the United States of America, a country made up of a diverse population originating in pretty much every country in the world.
As a rule, we like to celebrate our heritage and our lineage is important to us.
Many of us wear apparel identifying us as belonging to one race, ethnic group, or nationality. We have goofy sayings on our t-shirts (e.g. “Kiss me, I’m Irish”).
But, the element which draws us together as a nation is that we are Americans, regardless of our origins, whether we came here five generations ago, or are first generation Americans.
Personally, my family has been here since the 1880’s or earlier, and came from a variety of places in Europe. We’re also Jewish and strong supporters of Israel.
But, that does not give us the right to tell anyone else how to celebrate their own origins.
Nor does it give anyone the right to prohibit us from celebrating our “American-ness”.
My thoughts are that once you make a decision to be an American citizen, whether born here or naturalized, you have given your allegiance to this country, freely, of your own will.
By all means, feel free to celebrate your heritage, display your colors, reminisce about “The Old Country”, speak your native language, teach your children about your unique culture, and feel pride in it.
But, Americans celebrating being American should never be construed by anyone in this country as “disrespecting” anyone else’s culture or ethnicity.
You don’t need to be a “patriot” to be disturbed by this. I certainly have never thought of myself as a “patriot”, but rather as an American with my unique lineage and heritage.
Honestly, I’m ashamed of the Hispanics who marched and protested against five students wearing an American flag in America. That’s beyond the limits of good taste, and certainly is no indication of the respect due our nation.
It may sound harsh, but really, if your Mexican heritage and flag are more important to you than your American heritage and flag, perhaps you’re living in the wrong country….
And, for those who will respond by saying “but wait, you’re Jewish and support Israel”, I will tell you that yes, I am Jewish. But, the minute I put Israel above the United States, I should probably move there.