Sunday, May 09, 2010

Flag Hags

Generall all "political correctness run amok" stories should be taken with a large block of salt (especially if they happen to emanate from the rabble-rousing journamalistic sphincter of Faux News. But this is one of the dumbest things I've seen in some time, and I live in California, for fuck's sake.

Five student-athletes exposed raw feelings about race and immigration in a Northern California high school this week when they made the provocative choice to wear shirts and shorts bearing the stars and stripes of the American flag to school on Cinco de Mayo.

Now their actions - which an assistant principal at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill labeled "incendiary" - are spilling across the small town's borders, igniting a polarizing national debate on cable television's 24-hour talkfest.

Wednesday, as the school's Latino pupils - nearly 40 percent of the Live Oak student body - were celebrating the Mexican army's victory against France in 1862, many wearing Mexico's colors of red, white and green, the five boys showed up dressed in the American flag.

Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez told the boys to reverse their colors, or go home. Three boys left campus because they found the other option to be "disrespectful" to the flag, and two remained in school anyway, without changing, their parents said.

Rodriguez could not be reached for comment - the school was referring all calls to the district office - but parents said he indicated to them he was concerned about the boys' safety.

Oh, please. If that was truly the case, the two who remained without changing would have been sent home, per the assistant principal's empty threat.

Look, there may have been -- indeed, on some level almost certainly was -- some undercurrent of needless provocation in the boys' culture-warrior antics. So what? There's nothing violent or incendiary about wearing a t-shirt with an American flag on it; there was no nasty anti-Latino sentiment scrawled next to the flag. They chose an awfully convenient time to demonstrate their patriotism, sure, but in and of itself, that's not a crime, nor even a suspendable offense.

Of course, we are talking about the public school system, which is not meant to educate or even indoctrinate, so much as housebreak, to encourage mindless conformity, whether through anodyne "cultural awareness" outlets throughout the school year, or some other expression of collective solidarity on this or that meaningless issue. As long as kids come out the other end as docile employees and consumers, lifelong receivers of baldfaced lies from their superiors, everything is jake. The second they pose an inconvenient question, or show any independent thought, instead of trying to talk with them, bureaucratic feathers get ruffled, and the warden drops the hammer.

A group of about a dozen Latino students expressed their dismay Thursday directly to the school's white students - particularly the boys who wore the flag clothing. "We respect them on Fourth of July," said sophomore Biana Coreas. "We don't go with our Mexican flags waving it up that day, so why can't they respect us too?"

Well, that's awful large of them, but get this -- it is America, and not Mexico, and while all cultures should feel free to express themselves on their important occasions, it's not the sharpest tack to take, to act like you're doing everyone a favor by holding back on the Fourth of July.

This is a very silly argument all the way around, the way people get butt-hurt over symbols and colors, especially over an occasion where a substantial portion of participants probably cannot tell you what is being commemorated. John Robb would probably characterize this as collective expressions of primary (tribal) loyalties, which in the continuing regression of defensible extended (belief and alignment with government and society) loyalties, makes sense. The more immediate effect is that this gives reactionary cultural "conservatives" more unnecessary fuel for their colorful assumptions.


BillCinSD said...

Isn't it actually disrespectful to the flag to use it as wearing apparel? Certainly the text Section 1 of Title 4 of the US Code says this.

Grace Nearing said...

I'm disappointed nobody wore a French flag T-shirt.