It's come to this: High school basketball team apologizes for USA themed shirts

Where I several decades younger and considerably cooler I would probably be starting this brief news update with the phrase, I can’t even

It seems that this terribly sad incident took place out in Iowa at Valley High School near Des Moines. Kathryn Timpf at National Review had the details which sound more like something out of a bad parody of a Vox article than anything which would show up in the Associated Press. But truth is often stranger than fiction and that seems to be the case here.

Students at Valley High School in Iowa wore USA-themed gear during a basketball game — and fans of the opposing team, Des Moines North High School, are saying that was offensive.

According to local news source KCCI, Valley fans say that they’ve used a “USA” theme in the past for games against several different schools, but North’s fans are insisting that it was a personal attack against them because some of their students come from refugee families.

The controversy got so intense that a group of student leaders from Valley wound up hand-delivering a note of apology to North’s principal.

If you go to the local news coverage you can see footage from the actual basketball game as well as interviews with a number of students from Des Moines North High School. Nothing taking place at the game really seems all that controversial or shocking, and in fact the fans in the bleachers on both sides all seemed to be cheering. It’s also worth pointing out that the “offensive” clothing in question was not being worn by the players from Valley High. It was the parents and other students in attendance who were participating in the theme for the evening which was simply described as a “USA theme.” Some of the fans wore flag themed shirts and others held up an actual American flag as they cheered for their team.

But as I mentioned, it was the interviews with the students that really had my jaw dropping. A couple of the players seemed to express disbelief as to how anyone could think showing “a bunch of American flags” could be a good idea. The complaint, as expressed in the interview, centered around a defense based on the fact that Des Moines North is “a more diverse school.” It quickly became apparent that what they were talking about was the fact that most, if not all of the players on the team were black. But that doesn’t give any indication of the supposeed refugee status of anyone on the team. The school does have some refugee families enrolled, so perhaps that’s the subtle distinction I’m missing.

But even if that’s the case, what exactly are any of them finding objectionable about the American flag? Sure, any of the fans could’ve chosen to wear a team jersey but that’s not really the point here. Were the players being interviewed American citizens? If so, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do in terms of why your nation’s flag is objectionable. And even for the refugee families who may not be citizens, this is the country that took you in from whatever horrible conditions forced you to flee in the first place. Shouldn’t you be absolutely thrilled to see the American flag after having been given a place here?

If we’re to have a chat with anybody over this it probably shouldn’t be the players. Somebody needs to talk to the teachers. Obviously something has gone very wrong at that high school if this is the response that the site of an American flag elicits.

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