Video: Principal apologizes for disciplining students who wore American-flag clothing on Cinco de Mayo

Closing the loop on one of the hottest controversies of the week, the principal of Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California does the right thing in this video from Friday evening. Just to recap, the school suspended several students for wearing clothing with American-flag themes on Cinco de Mayo, calling the display “incendiary” and warning that it could have led to violence. One aspect of this explanation is the rather unnoted bigotry in the assumption that those students celebrating Cinco de Mayo would have such a hair-trigger inclination to violence that the mere appearance of an American flag would set them off. Jimmy Orr reports on the backtrack for the LA Times:

Live Oak High School Principal Nick Boden accepted the blame while apologizing Friday, saying, “In this situation, I may have moved too quickly in drawing the line of when to take preventative action.”

Officials had cited concerns that fights between students could erupt because of the “incendiary” images of the U.S. flag on the holiday.

“This was never about whether students were allowed to wear patriotic clothing on our campuses. They can. It was about ensuring that our high school campus was orderly and safe,” Wesley Smith, superintendent for Morgan Hill Unified School District, said Friday at a press conference.

The apology doesn’t satisfy some. They want Rodriguez fired. In fact, they’ve set up a Facebook page to solicit support.

Writes the creator of the page: “This blatant disrespect toward our country and anti-American infringement on a student’s right to learn should not be tolerated. Take action. Sign the petition, send emails to the school and tell your friends.”

Even in the apology, the superintendent manages to perpetuate the idea that someone would have a reasonable expectation that an American flag display would generate violence, which sells these students short. Some students demonstrated against the school administration’s backtracking on suspending the dissenters, and from all accounts, that demonstration was orderly, law-abiding, and responsible. The superintendent and the principal really should be apologizing to them as much as to the students originally disciplined for their expressions of patriotism.

The superintendent also manages to blame “bloggers, talk show hosts, and social networks” for painting a poor picture of Live Oak High’s administration, which makes this a rather pathetic apology. Is he sorry that the school administrators screwed up, or just sorry that everyone noticed?

Addendum: We’ve gotten a lot of e-mail about a YouTube video of a UCLA professor calling for an uprising to return the American Southwest to Mexico, but as Verum Serum discovered, that’s old news. It’s from 2007.

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