Banning the American Flag and Reconquista

A federal court has ruled that an American school student has a right to free expression -- unless that American might be threatened for that expression by others, in which case state officials have the right to quash the offending expression to appease potential aggressors. 

Which, ipso facto, means Americans have no right to free expression at all.  For if it’s not the government’s role to protect expression that is thought to be offensive by a vicious mob, what purpose does the First Amendment have?  “Safe” expression needs no protection, after all.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled upon the constitutionality of a decision by the administration at Live Oak High School in 2010.  On May 5th of that year, student Daniel Galli and his friends had the unmitigated gall to wear shirts emblazoned with that offensive symbol that we call the American flag.  Fearing that the unruly ex-denizens of another country would be infuriated at the mere sight of it on a day they hold in reverence, the vice principal asked him and his friends to turn their shirts inside out.  

May 5th, of course, is the holiday more commonly referred to as Cinco de Mayo.  And apparently, Mexican-Americans would be prone to engage in a bit of the old ultra-violence if some haughty American had the audacity to brandish the American flag in America on a day in which Mexico won a victory in a battle against the French way back when.

These patriotic hooligans at Live Oak were clearly in violation of an unwritten sensitivity standard, or something like that, and when they refused the administrators’ demands, they left the school to avoid suspension.  In a piece I authored for American Thinker at that time, I lamented that our poor American flag no longer has a home in our schools and workplaces. I argued that it is a travesty that Hispanic transplants from Mexico might see the American flag as offensive.  Just some apple pie patriotism to remind everyone just what that flag stands for, and how many have sacrificed and died for the values it represents (cue Merle Haggard’s “Fightin’ Side of Me”).

Looking back, I realize that it fell short in addressing the magnitude of it all. 

First, there is the obvious specter of the notion of “Reconquista” inherent in all of this.  When speaking with my parents just a few weeks ago about Republicans’ wild-eyed and crazily misguided efforts to make the legislation of amnesty their political white whale, my father (an Anglo-American of English/Irish descent) asked me to make future efforts to remind Americans that the concentrated campaign to re-define the American Southwest as a sub-jurisdiction of Mexico, with social and economic benefits provided by American taxpayers, amounts to little more than an invasion.  My mother (of immediate Mexican descent) took it upon herself to agree, reminding us that as a teenager in San Antonio, Texas, that this very aim was openly discussed among her Hispanic classmates.  “We’re gonna take it back,” she recalls as a common theme of conversation.  “We’re gonna hang around and eventually, we’re gonna get it back.”

That is, they strove to “take” American sovereign territory back for the Mexicans to whom they felt it truly belonged.  Though this is often thought of as being in the more irrelevant underpinnings of the immigration issue, if it’s considered at all, it cannot be denied that to the millions of Mexican-Americans, this notion of the “Reconquista” is at the very heart of the immigration reform push.  It’s not openly discussed, but one can easily glean this as fact given the clues.  For example, why would Pernod Ricard, third largest producer of alcoholic beverages in the world, run this ad for its Absolut Vodka brand, if not to appeal to its Hispanic customer base and their innermost desires?

This is a serious problem, and one that we would all do well to recognize.  It signifies that much of the effort exerted to enact amnesty is not about the assimilation of immigrants into an American understanding of liberty and our way of life, but about the subversion of our culture and values to promote and re-establish a different understanding and way of life contrary to our own.  

But while the threat of the “Reconquista” is a threat that came from without and has coalesced into a very real, yet somehow still shrouded, threat from within, there is greater danger ahead, signified by this decision by the Ninth Circuit of Appeals -- a threat which gives such attacks against American culture and values significantly more teeth.

The Freedom Law Center and other organizations took up the aforementioned Live Oak High School students’ case, believing (and not unreasonably) that the explicit verbiage of our First Amendment would absolve the students of any perceived crime, and seeking justice for the suppression of the students’ right to free expression.  “Our role is not to second-guess the decision to have a Cinco de Mayo celebration or the precautions put in place to avoid violence,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote.  Past events “made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of potentially violent disturbance was real,” she continued.

And thus, it has been decided that free and reasonable expression can be criminalized, and would-be criminals can be absolved of their pre-crimes by your unelected lords and masters.  This may sound like some dystopian hybrid of the narratives of George Orwell and Phillip K. Dick, but this isn’t fiction.  Given the scandals in which our current federal overseers are embroiled regarding illegal surveillance and political discrimination against political enemies, we’re long past 1984, and the self-proclaimed Pre-cogs of the State can relieve you of your inalienable freedom on the grounds of preventing crimes that would presumably be committed by others.

This should highlight the very ludicrousness of the entire situation.  The wearing of the American flag, on any day or for any reason, is not, and should never be, a crime!  Whether the punishment is jail time or a lost day of education for one of our youths is incidental. 

The hypocrisy should be all the more evident when you consider that under no circumstances could you imagine that this Court would rule that the wearing of a Mexican flag on July 4th would not be protected by the First Amendment.  Our federal judges, seemingly ever more capable of appraising political gales than the Constitutional rights of the citizens they are sworn to protect, would never make such a ruling, as it would clearly amount to discrimination and the suppression of inherent and protected rights.  But even if they did make such a ruling to justify the forbiddance of Mexican-American students wearing the Mexican flag on July 4th -- and abiding the very same rationale which spawned this decision regarding the students at Live Oak -- it would still be an egregious and unforgivable offense!

The point is, rights which are applied unequally are not rights at all.  Once rights become subjective to the political whims of the ruling elite, rights become nothing more than allowances which can be denied when the state deems that the suppression of those rights is required.  And assuming one has the most basic knowledge of history, I should not have to expound upon the danger of such circumstances.

And yet, here we are.

William Sullivan blogs at and can be followed on Twitter.

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