Afghans shoot and kill American soldiers and burn our flag and we apologize.
American students on American soil wear American flag clothing and they are ordered to take them off because they might offend non-American students. And - for added measure - a federal judge backs up the school district.
Just what do they find so offensive about not just the American flag but Americans?
Was it wrong for American soldiers to dispose of old Koran books that were being replaced with new ones by burning them? The highest muck-a-mucks in the military echelon vowed to investigate the matter. Perhaps they’d like to start with the fact a ceremonial burning of an old American flag is considered showing respect.
Yes, there are cultural differences between Afghans and Americans. Chalk what happened in Afghanistan to cultural differences between Afghans and Americans. And even though Americans are spilling blood in the belief they are helping secure future for Afghanistan what happened in Afghanistan has to be tempered by the fact it wasn’t in America.
But what happened in Morgan Hill - and then was sanctioned by a federal judge in San Francisco is just plain wrong. Essentially it said displaying the American flag in America can be offensive to someone so therefore government agencies - in this case a school district - can ban such displays from campus out of fear an offended person might end up resorting to violence.
That in a nutshell is what happened in Morgan Hill Unified School District two years back on Cinco de Mayo. The ruling made last November is now being appealed to the 9th Circuit which - given their history - will more than likely determine the American flag was indeed offensive to be displayed on a government controlled campus.
Three high school students were ordered to remove their American flag clothing by school officials who didn’t want to offend students celebrating their Mexican heritage on Cinco de Mayo. The school administration were worried racial tensions might erupt because those celebrating their Mexican heritage happened to see other students wearing an American flag on Cinco de Mayo. One must wonder whether the school even bothered to fly the American flag that day. If they did were they “fanning” racial tensions? And if they weren’t flying the American flag, then someone needs to ask why they didn’t.
Attorneys for the three teens believe their clients’ constitutional free speech and equal protection rights were violated.
William J. Becker Jr., one of the attorneys, said it best: “The American flag is not a symbol of racism or race hate mongering. It should never have been ordered into a students’ locker just so it won’t offend people because of their pride in another nation’s culture. The American flag symbolizes unity and promotes a public school’s goal of providing students the right to express their patriotism every day of the year regardless of whose culture heritage is being celebrated.”
The only thing that he could possibly have added is that American flag represents the right of students to celebrate another nation’s culture without fear of government retribution or prosecution.
Rights aren’t a one way street. They can’t selectively be applied to one group of people and denied to another.
That is unless you view Americans as being at the bottom of an India-style caste system in their own country.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.