California’s American Flag Flap

In a rare moment of lucidity two weeks ago, California’s uber-liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s requirement that citizens articulate “good cause” to obtain a concealed weapons permit is unconstitutional, setting up other states with similar statues for identical court challenges. We applauded their common sense. They’ve since, however, fallen back off the wagon.

The court ruled today that a Northern California high school acted appropriately when officials ordered students wearing American flag T-shirts to cover them up during Cinco de Mayo. Live Oak High School seemingly has “a history of problems between white and Latino students” during that day, so the court has decided that threats of violence “outweigh students’ freedom of expression rights”.

Says Judge M. Margaret McKeown:

“Our role is not to second-guess the decision to have a Cinco de Mayo celebration or the precautions put in place to avoid violence…[past events] made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real”.

We do remember which country we’re in, correct? When I woke up this morning, California was still an American state. American independence is celebrated in July. Why are schools officially sanctioning the celebration of explicitly non-American holidays? Or allowing Latino students to dictate terms as they conscript said holiday as an occasion to void an American student’s clear right to wear an American flag shirt on a day American students have no interest in?

Seemingly, Latino students have free reign once a year to have their way. If they can prevent their peers from wearing Old Glory, on grounds the shirts offend their sensibilities during the national holiday of a nation they don’t even reside in, can they inform school officials that all recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance on that day aren’t to happen, for similar reasons? Is the customary playing of the National Anthem before a baseball game to be silenced should the day be May the Fifth? Are the schools to remove all instances of Americana from the grounds to appease Latino students who are benefiting from the American school system? How are these instances not the natural next step?

There seems to be a tendency to try to bend American sentiments and culture to immigrants rather than expecting them to assimilate with us. Such is expected of us when we travel to other locales, anyway. In our own country, we wake up on any given day expecting to be able to wear our Old Navy flag shirts without molestation from those we interact with, be it May 5th, July 4th or October 18th.

Not any longer. In our mania to not offend Latino students, a non-American holiday, observed by no level of American government, takes precedence over an explicit American right of expression. These students have been allowed to dictate terms, where they ought wield no such ability to do so.

That ability instead rests with school officials, so why not try this: If administrators want to allow Latino students to celebrate the holiday on school grounds–but before or after school–that seems to be a reasonable, path-of-least-resistance accommodation. Bible studies and other extracurricular groups already do this. However, during school hours, all such celebration is to cease. Completely. Latino students get their period of observance, and native students maintain the ability to wear their shirts during the day. Both parties get with they want. Whatever variation on this is done, school officials simply cannot allow one group of students to run roughshod over another group’s rights. It sets a bad precedent.

Or, frankly, officials can grow a pair, take back their authority and be the adults. I fail to see how Latino students have the right to coerce schools into sanctioning observance of a non-American holiday, but I can however see how officials have a responsibility of maintaining student’s rights to wear a patriotic shirt. So, let them wear the shirts on May 5th. Be clear that any outbreak of violence, on either side, will be met with immediate suspension. No exception. No negotiation. You’re done.

Whenever two cultures clash in America, the culture that pays fealty to the Constitution often loses out to the whims of political correctness. Can’t offend anyone, now! Well, that needs to change. Deference to our constitutional rights ought be the default, and students coming up in American schools need to be taught to respect that. Feel free to start right now.


About Michael Haugen

Michael Haugen is a full-spectrum conservative and recent graduate from Eastern Washington University (BS Biology). His main interests in politics and public policy center around health care, education and tax reform. He'll be returning to EWU in 2014 to complete a Master's degree in Public Administration. Follow him on Twitter: @HaugenTRA

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