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A Popeye moment in Morgan Hill

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POSTED May 7, 2010 2:39 a.m.
It’s about time.

On May 5, five high school students in Morgan Hill were sent home for wearing clothing emblazoned with the American flag. The talk shows and opinion pages are abuzz with indignation because the students were just trying to be patriotic.

Well, if they were patriotic then they were just plain stupid because the United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8, Subsection d states, “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.”

Every time I see the flag any place but on a pole, draped on a coffin or hung on a wall I just shake my head, including when it is on an athletic official’s uniform. It just doesn’t belong there. Subsection j of the above-mentioned code states, ‘No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations.”

But those kids did not get sent home for violating that law. According to an article from KPIX, the Hispanic vice principal of the high school told those wearing the flag apparel that since it was Cinco de Mayo some Hispanic students were upset and there were fears a fight would start.

And people wonder why Arizona did what it did.

I spent some time in South Florida a while back and was flabbergasted when I walked into a store and asked for assistance and the floor worker as well as his supervisor did not speak English well enough to tell me where the water was. It was only when I said “Agua” was I directed where to go. Even the cafeteria help at the college I was staying at did not speak English.

I spent a year in Turkey while in the Army. I would not even begin to have expected it to be the Turks’ responsibility to learn my language. As I was a guest in their land it was up to me to make myself understood – not the other way around.

Attitudes that spawned the recent Arizona law pertaining to illegal aliens came about from nothing but pure frustration. I think that if I was in a high school with a large Hispanic population I, too, would have worn a shirt with the flag on it. People are free to celebrate whatever they want, but just like prayer has no place in public schools, neither do celebrations for other nations.

It is hard to believe that as a young boy I would be exposed to the cornerstone that so much of our very existence would stem from while watching “Popeye.” Remember when Popeye would get backed into a corner by Bluto when Bluto would beat the stuffing out of Popeye and run off with Olive Oyl?

Think of what Popeye would say just before downing the spinach, thrashing Bluto and running off with Olive Oyl. Give up? It went something like this: “I done stands all I can and I can’t stands no more!”

I call that reaching one’s “Popeye point.” Think of everything that has come about because the wrong thing was done for so long that the Popeye-point principle (PPP) kicked in.

Proposition 13 is the first thing that comes to my mind. County assessors had acted with such impunity for so long when it came to re-assessing property values that in many cases people’s tax payments had eclipsed their house payments.

John McCain was a victim of the PPP. After the eight years this country had been through there was no way a Republican was going to be elected president in 2008. Of course, Sarah Palin didn’t help his cause any, but he sure helped out her bank book, didn’t he?

There is going to be a lot of anger in Arizona, but that anger is not going to be focused where it needs to be. It needs to be focused on those who sneak over the border under cover of night and become a drain on society. It needs to be focused on those people too arrogant or self-absorbed who come to this country and refuse to learn the language.

And when the dust settles and this law ends up before the Supreme Court, with the ideological makeup of the court not likely to change anytime soon, this law will probably be upheld.

And it is sad that it has come to this.

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