Dennis Norwood: Whose Country Is It, Anyhow?

Sunday, July 27, 2014
Dennis Norwood
Dennis Norwood

While perusing my Internet news feeds recently I came across a story that while perhaps a bit dated, still grabbed my attention. Does anyone remember reading about a decision made by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California back in February of this year regarding an issue with the American flag?

Granted, this is the one appeals court that never ceases to amaze me for its extremely liberal rulings, but this one was more than just a little unsettling in my eyes.

 According to a story in the Washington Post, the lawsuit stemmed from May 5, 2010, when five students at the Live Oak School in the afore-mentioned school district were prevented from wearing American flag T-shirts because school officials did not want to “offend ‘Mexican’ students on their big day.” Apparently, that day, some students at the school were intent on marking the Mexican holiday we know as Cinco de Mayo.

 Administrators claimed that they were concerned about racial violence and potential threats of violence due to an altercation that had occurred between the two groups back in 2009 during that year’s celebration of this same holiday. Even with this history, school officials approved the event in 2010.

 The article goes on to say that the celebration was approved by school administrators and was co-sponsored by an approved student group.

 School officials allowed these students to wear clothing that had the colors of the Mexican flag. The court held that this was permissible, even while banning the American flag. Now, get this. The school district and the court agreed that there was no indication that “students wearing the colors of the Mexican flag had been targeted for violence.” It (the court) went on to say that, “the students offered no evidence that students at a similar risk of danger were treated differently, and therefore no evidence of impermissible viewpoint of discrimination (existed).”

 Now, while I can understand the desire by these students to want to celebrate their cultural experience, it’s this next part that gets my proverbial goat. While the colors and depiction of the Mexican flag was permitted, likenesses of our American flag were banned - totally.

 A school administrator asked the five young men, even though they had already been on campus for over three hours, to turn their shirts inside out. God bless these young men, out of not wanting to disrespect Old Glory, they refused.

 Their next stop? You guessed it, the dreaded principal’s office. Here they were lectured on the importance of the Mexican holiday and given the option of taking off their shirts or leaving school. Being kids after my own heart, they chose to leave and then file a civil rights lawsuit.

 What has our country come to when citizens are denied the right to express our own patriotism at the expense of a foreign country’s celebration known mainly here in the United States as an excuse to party and get drunk?

 I, like many at one point in our life, signed a blank check with said life as collateral, to defend that flag. These students were on American soil. Did the school not fly the American flag from its pole that day so as not to “upset” this handful of students? Whether or not they were American citizens is a moot point in my eyes. If they were U.S. citizens it becomes even more egregious.

 But, who exactly were the offenders back on that day in 2009? The altercation a year previous was between “a group of predominantly Caucasian students and a group of Mexican students.” It is documented in the lawsuit that the Mexicans were the ones who practiced violence and made threats that day.

 At one point a male Mexican student shoved a Mexican flag at a male Caucasian student and expressed an apparent derogatory comment to him in Spanish. Other Mexican students were yelling “(expletive). the white boy” throughout the confrontation.

 As I said before, this did happen some time ago, but the thought of it bothers me all the more today. With our borders leaking like a sieve and a president who apparently wants the drain to be opened wider,  I am incensed that we are seemingly losing more rights here at home every day. With the influx of illegal aliens which right will be next to go?

 Is this not our country? Do we not recognize that the red, white and blue is our flag?  Since when do we not have the right to wave our flag and enjoy the protection to do so? I have, myself, observed instances where the American flag has been disrespected and flown beneath that of other nation’s flags right here in Chattanooga.

 Men and women have died defending those rights and for a decidedly liberal court to take those rights away is so wrong on so many levels. I can’t describe how offended I was when I read that article. I would hope that it would offend every American citizen.

 I have no problem recognizing the act of celebrating the holidays that define the cultures that created this “melting pot” we call home. St. Patrick’s Day is a favorite of mine and I enjoy reveling in that part of my ancestry. But, at the end of the day I realize that it’s the 4th of July that I really enjoy. Along with Memorial Day and Labor Day, and Veteran’s Day. The truly American holidays that define our great country.

 Yes, we are a conglomeration of cultures melded together to make one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all, but when we start to allow holidays like Cinco de Mayo to have precedence over all things American, we have reached a dangerous precipice.

 As Lee Greenwood so beautifully sings, “I AM proud to be an American!”

 (Dennis Norwood can be contacted at or via Twitter at DennisENorwood. The comments/beliefs contained herein remain solely his own.)

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