Two Wrongs Make A Huge Mess

cinco-de-mayo-stampIf you’ve ever wanted an example of two wrongs not making a right, there’s a perfect illustration unfolding in California. The Ninth District Court of Appeals has struck again. A recent ruling from that court gives schools permission to ban the wearing of the United States flag for the sake of safety.

The court’s ruling, in my opinion, is wrong number two. The first wrong incited the suit that ended up in the appeals court.

It appears some students chose to protest the celebration of Cinco de Mayo by a group of Mexican-Americans by wearing tee shirts with the American flag on them. As a result, the school required the students to turn their shirts inside-out because “administrators feared the American-flag shirts would inflame the passions of Latino students celebrating the Mexican holiday.” (“Court: School can ban U.S. flag shirts for safety,” USA Today). Apparently there was a history of tension between culturally white and culturally Hispanic groups. One source I heard indicated gang involvement fuels the problem.

But here’s the deal. In two weeks our nation will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, a thoroughly Irish day, and celebrated as such in many places. Who trots out the American flag on that occasion? And recently here in SoCal, we had a Tai parade, or was it Vietnamese?

The Chinese New Year is another day of celebration, often with parades, that has been imported along with our immigrant population. We also have a part of the country that makes Mardi Gras, a French term identifying a celebration from the Old Country, its most notorious festival.

The point is, we are a nation of immigrants, and remembering, even rejoicing in, the place of one’s heritage, is not uncommon and it’s not a slap at America.

Is eating pizza un-American? Of course not! We are a nation of borrowers, from language to foods to traditions to days of celebration.

It was an uninformed act, then, for those students to do something to disrupt others commemorating Cinco de Mayo.

I grew up in a town that set aside a week for a Fiesta. It was one of the big tourist draws and something the entire community looked forward to and participated in. It was not looked at as an anomaly because it focused on the Mexican heritage of our region. After all, that’s part of our history, part of our culture, and forms the background for a good many of our citizens.

So the students who protested others celebrating Cinco de Mayo were wrong.

But so was the school who told them they couldn’t show the American flag and the court that upheld the decision. I mean, really? A safety matter?

First, how about some real education? Teach those kids that Cinco de Mayo isn’t an us/them divide. If someone doesn’t want to celebrate a culture they don’t know, fine. But teach them that someone commemorating their heritage is not dissing America. Otherwise, everyone who wears green March 17 is hating on America.

On the other hand, how about the school teaching the Cinco de Mayo kids that showing patriotism for your home (their home as well, in case they haven’t been reminded of it lately) isn’t something to get upset about.

I realize this problem does undoubtedly have gang implications, so how about dealing with that instead of banning the flag? I mean, really. Nothing like putting band-aides over the problem.

These two wrongs have made the situation far from right. It’s now a royal mess that could end up in the Supreme Court. But that’s our society today–litigious to the max!


  1. […] to create arbitrary (if not illogical) rules rather than use education to solve problems. Example: Deter gang violence by outlawing American flags at school. Rather than teach kids that Cinco de Mayo is not a reason to beat up on your white American […]


  2. I’m hoping you see my comment. I’m from Santa Barbara too? Do we know each other? (Carolyn Anderson Phillips)


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