Friday, May 7, 2010

Wearing American Flags on Cinco de Mayo Causes Trouble

This past Cinco de Mayo, five students at Live Oaks High School, a predominantly Hispanic high school, decided to wear shirts with American flags.  Initially, the vice principal, who happened to be Hispanic, told he boys, one of them who happened to have Hispanic heritage, to turn their shirts inside out because they were "incendiary." The boys refused.  So what did the school officials decide to do? Send them home!

What do I find wrong with this whole scenario?  A violation of First Amendment rights, for starters.  If students of Mexican origin want to show Mexican pride, that's your prerogative.  But to force your pride onto somebody else like that is nothing short of the double standards that we see in affirmative action (better known as reverse discrimination) and any other politically correct, societal discourse in racism.

Second, I am willing to bet that most, if not all, of the students who were "offended" by these T-shirts were American citizens themselves.  Aside from the fact that they cannot distinguish between nationality and ethnicity, what it does is help divisiveness permeate throughout.  What do I mean by that?  By being "offended" and having their elders affirm their "right to be offended" (for the record, no such "right" exists in the Constitution), they inculcate into them that they're somehow not "American enough" or that being American is so tertiary to them that their being American is of no importance. Capriciously throwing the race card around and letting these students get away ultimately perpetuates the very "racial wars" about which they bemoan in the first place because what the Left (or Chicano groups) imply is that they are too emotionally fragile to maturely handle such issues, which is nothing more than a politically correct form of racism.

Finally, if a sizable ethnic minority were to pull this stunt in any other country, they would, at the least, be dismissed as unpatriotic ignoramuses, and at most, would be shot for treasonous behavior.  Obviously, this is akin to having the Hispanic population force Spanish on the rest of American society with bilingualism.  Even though I'm fluent in Spanish, I still get annoyed when I hear "Oprima número dos para español." But why would I be annoyed?  For one, although I recognize that America doesn't have an official language, I also recognize that the language that has been used throughout the American history for public interactions has overwhelmingly been English.  It is also annoying because it's a slap in the face of the host country.  Think of the example of the "boorish American tourist."  One of the main reasons that the American tourist is stereotypically considered boorish is because he never took the time to learn the language of the host country.  If 100,000 Americans moved to Argentina and demanded to the Argentinian government that everything be changed into English to better fit their needs, you can imagine the reaction.

When I taught ESL back in high school, I did meet Hispanics who genuinely wanted to learn the English language because they wanted to be able to interact in their host country.  Even though I recognize that there are many Hispanics that want to learn English because it will give them a socio-economic boost, I also recognize that a large minority (or even a slight majority) of Hispanics in this country expect to be linguistically coddled.  If you want to speak Spanish in your own home, watch Telemundo, and maintain your heritage, I am all for that!  Ethnic pride is great, and one of the great things about America is that we live in a nation in which we can respect other peoples' differences.  I can tell you that no nation in Europe has been able to foster such an open policy when it comes to diversity.  However, don't let that interfere with interacting with others in a civil manner.  So if you're Hispanic, and if having respect for America and those who decide to be patriotic is too difficult for you to handle, you can always take your Mexican pride and hightail it south of the border.

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