On May 5, Austin Carvalho, Daniel Galli, Matt Dariano, Dominic Maciel, and Clayton Howard were at Live Oak High School, sitting at a table and talking, when Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez asked two of the students to remove the American flag bandannas they were wearing. They complied. Rodriguez then asked these young men to come to the principal’s office. Once there, Principal Nick Boden reportedly told these young men that wearing T-shirts with American flags on them was “incendiary” (even as other students wearing apparel featuring the flag were left alone). The students were told that they would be sent home if they did not turn their shirts inside out.
Not willing to dishonor the American flag by complying with an absurd request, they made a stand. What followed showed the courage of these young men, the ignorance and disrespect of many in California’s Latino community, the extremely questionable behavior on the part of school administrators, and the existence of a racial supremacist group on school grounds.
When these young men refused Assistant Principal’s Rodriguez’s request to turn their shirts inside out, they were standing up for their First Amendment rights and pride in their nation. Hispanic students at the school threw a hissy fit. Roughly 200 Hispanic teens protested, claiming they were slighted by the young men wearing American flags on Cinco de Mayo. They chanted “We want respect!” and “Si se puede!”:
The group — mostly high school students — walked out of school this morning after the story of four students who were sent home because they wore American flag T-shirts went viral on TV and online. Many wear red, white and green and two large Mexico flags can be seen at the front of the line.
The students say they want people to know they’re proud of their heritage and they believe wearing red, white and blue on Cinco de Mayo is disrespectful.
How is wearing the American flag, in America, disrespectful to another culture? How is it disrespectful to your shared culture? These protesting scholars could not give a logical explanation (there isn’t one), but tried to use the bizarre argument that wearing the U.S. flag to school on Cinco de Mayo was the equivalent of wearing the Mexican flag on the Fourth of July.
The display of ignorance by these students shows that Live Oak High School administrators are not just guilty of First Amendment rights violations, but are utterly inept educators as well.
Mexico’s real Independence Day is not May, 5, but September 16. As a “Mexican” holiday, Cinco de Mayo is nearly ignored in Mexico. It isn’t even a national holiday. It is a minor celebration, commemorating an single day’s victory in a losing campaign against … the French.
Nevertheless, some Latinos have chosen to make this issue another ill-conceived battle. Hispanic students at the school showed that irony is another subject they failed, as they claimed that their Thursday walkout against the First Amendment rights of their fellow Americans was for “respect and unity.” Uh-huh. Somebody please hand these kids dictionaries.