Five high school students sent home for wearing American flags on Cinco de Mayo 

If this isn’t representative of the current tensions of immigration, I don’t know what is:

On any other day at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Daniel Galli and his four friends would not even be noticed for wearing T-shirts with the American flag. But Cinco de Mayo is not any typical day especially on a campus with a large Mexican American student population.

Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the vice principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal’s office.

“They said we could wear it on any other day,” Daniel Galli said, “but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today.”

The boys said the administrators called their T-shirts “incendiary” that would lead to fights on campus.

I understand the school administrators are most likely trying to avoid conflict by taking the path of least resistance here. The article goes on to quote an Hispanic student saying she was offended. Further, it’s not clear how deliberately provocative the students in question were being. Still, I’m not sure this is defensible on any grounds, and it seems that the school district has issued a statement saying disagreeing with the school administration’s actions.

But why is it not possible to be proud of your Mexican heritage and your American heritage at the same time? Why does this need to be an obvious conflict? Cinco de Mayo may nominally be about celebrating the victory of the Battle of Puebla, but in practice it’s become sort of the Hispanic version of St. Patrick’s day. In fact, Cinco de Mayo is far more widely celebrated in America than it is in Mexico. It seems really unfortunate Mexican-American students would be offended by an American flag on what’s become ostensibly a holiday to celebrate the Hispanic influence in the U.S.

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Mark Hemingway

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