Monday, April 03, 2006

Any Displays of American Nationalism Will Be Punished

Can the line between Nationalism and Racism be defined?

While thousands of Hispanic students spent the week facing suspension for walking out of class, now Caucasian students around the country are being handed the same penalty for waving the American flag.

Flaunting the American flag is precisely what 13-year-old Cameron Miles did at Ranchero Middle School on Friday.

Wearing two shirts, one with the American flag, school officials said he removed the one displaying his patriotism and began waving it at a group of Hispanic students on campus.

“His friends began to hoist him on their shoulders so he could be more predominately displayed when the proctor asked him to give her the shirt,” district spokeswoman Debbie Baker said. “She explained that he can’t incite an already sensitive situation and he told her, ‘This is bullshit’ and ran.”

Baker and the boy’s mother, Denise Schroeder, said he received a one-day suspension not for wearing the shirt, but for defiance of direction given by a staff member and using profanity.

But that’s all they agree on.

Schroeder said she was never told by school officials her son had removed his patriotic shirt. She said he was told the shirt needed to be confiscated because him simply wearing it on campus could incite violence.

“My son just wanted to show his classmates that he had pride for his country. Why is this a symbol that incites violence but the Mexican flag is not? “Schroeder asked. “My brother is in the Navy. We’ve been wearing patriotic shirts for years. Ranchero’s colors are even red and white. Where are we going to draw the line with what they can and cannot wear?”

Baker added that if it was a Hispanic student waving the Mexican flag at students to cause a problem, school officials would have taken the same action.

“We still live in America and should be proud of the flag that represents our country. But using it as a symbol to incite violence cannot be tolerated,” Baker said.

To some, HR 4377 is becoming secondary to controversy over displays of the American and Mexican flags.

“I saw people I know from school waving the Mexican flag. If they’re so proud of that country they should go back there. But this is where they want to be., America. That’s the flag they need to be flaunting. How backwards is that?” asked 17 year-old Mike Brown of Victorville.

At a high school in Pico Rivera a student hung the American flag upside in protest. The California flag was stolen and replaced by a Mexican flag, which the protesters hung above the American flag according to reports by the Associated Press.

Another report states that on Monday a Jurupa Valley High School senior started organizing a pro-America rally. The event would include the waving of the American flag to help demonstrate support for HR 4377 bill.

The organizer, 17-year-old Josh Denhalter, was suspended March 30, for handing out some 300 fliers to promote the rally.

In Colorado, students from Skyline High School walked out of class Friday mor ning to protest the school administration's new policy banning the carrying or wearing of American and Mexican flags. According to reports from the Rocky Mountain News, most of the 100 students were protesting that American flags were included in the ban. The ban likely will be short-lived, Principal Tom Stumpf stated.

Also on Friday, 17-year old David Guzman of Victorville left his job at the Victor Valley Mall and discovered all his patriotic flags and ribbons once proudly displayed on his car were stolen and the car’s antennae was broken in half where a small U.S. flag hung just hours earlier.

“I don’t know who did it or why. But I’ve had them on my car since 9/11 and it wasn’t until now that anyone messed with them. I’m Mexican. All of this is embarrassing to me and my family,” Guzman said of the nationwide protests. “I don’t want people looking at me or my sister like we’re one of those idiots protesting for a getout-of-jail-free card.”

Guzman said many in his family have reached the boiling point and he would march in a pro-HR 4377 protest if one were organized in a legal manner.

“I think there’s a lot of us who just want to be able to have a voice, too,” Guzman said. “These protesters don’t speak for all Mexicans. I want people to understand that.”