Incident malicious, ramifications necessary
Being a California native, an English student familiar with the ineffable importance of context and, more importantly, an American who is capable of distinguishing between patriotism and chauvinistic nationalism, I feel obligated to explore the social ramifications of Seidel’s alleged “toleran[ce] of all nationalities.”
In California, a state with a Mexican population of more than 11 million (30.7 percent of the population) and in which immigration is a hot-button issue, Cinco de Mayo is a particularly significant holiday.
The fact that five students showed up to school on this particular day wearing clothing with stars and stripes was hardly a coincidental act of well-meaning patriotism; it was a malicious, coordinated assault of Mexican heritage at a school with 53.8 percent Hispanic enrollment (as of the 2007-08 school year). To deny this fact (or to ignore it) is to demonstrate an egregiously obtuse disregard for sociopolitical context.
Let’s examine the possibilities of Seidel’s proposed “any flag, any day policy”: Afghani or Pakistani flags (the geographic regions of Taliban operation) on 9/11; British flags on the Fourth of July; German flags on Veteran’s Day.
These examples do not serve as hypothetical equivalents of the Cinco de Mayo incident but merely as theoretically acceptable manifestations of one’s First Amendment right (which Seidel implies should remain unabridged on school grounds).
For some reason, I doubt Seidel would approve of these “semblance[s] of patriotism” within the realm of a publicly funded high school. Similar to other amendments (last I checked, bearing arms on school grounds is considered an act of terrorism, not a constitutional right), the First is commonly restricted on high school campuses. With regard to clothing: Outfits containing profanity, violence, sexually suggestive images, gang references, alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs are all universally banned on school grounds.
The common thread appears to be this: Clothing that may offend or threaten other students is prohibited. Yet, all of the attire listed above is legal under the First Amendment. Should high schools curb restrictions of these articles as well?
The purpose of the U.S. Constitution is, as stated in the preamble, to “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” It is absolutely crucial to view each and every amendment in this context. Were those bold, young men upholding these ideals? Racial subordination is not an “opinion” — it is a disease. And the intolerance of intolerance, Ms. Seidel, is not hypocrisy; it is humanity.