Cinco de Mayo
By John D. Turner
28 Sep 2010

Just found this article in my “archives’. Wrote it back in May and never published it. I know it’s dated, but hey, can’t let a good diatribe go to waste, can I?

Ok, I’m not getting the whole Cinco de Mayo thing. I know, it’s probably because I am "a racist Anglo and hate Hispanics", but leaving that aside for the moment, I really am a bit confused.

I understand what happened on 5 May 1862. And I understand why it is an important day in the history of Mexico. I just don’t understand the whole American flag thing that happened in California.

When did it become “a bad idea” for an American to wear American flag apparel to an American school in the United States of America? And since when has wearing such apparel been deemed sufficiently “incendiary” to cause students wearing it to be sent home to change?

Now mind you, I do have some problems with the way the flag is worn these days. The Flag code specifies a number of rules concerning the display of the flag. Section 8a states that the “flag should never be used as wearing apparel.” Section 8j states that “no part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin bearing a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.”

Video of the students in question leaves no question in my mind that the apparel they were wearing violates the flag code. Much of the clothing I see these days bearing the American flag violates the code. Most of the people wearing it have absolutely no idea that they are in violation; those making the clothing are probably ignorant as well. As anyone who has attended any event where the national anthem is played these days is no doubt aware, large swathes of our population are unfamiliar with the proper protocol that is to be followed when the music sounds. Either that or they simply don’t care. Or perhaps both.

Civility, manners, and formal behavior are things that most Americans these days are woefully unfamiliar with.

But that isn’t why they were told to remove the apparel. They were told that wearing the American flag on an American school campus in America on Cinco de Mayo was “inappropriate” and might lead to a confrontation with Mexican-American students who felt they were being “disrespected” on “their” holiday. St. Patrick ’s Day apparently is OK (no one worries about “disrespecting” the Irish), but please; no American flags on Cinco de Mayo.

One wonders; did Live Oak High School, in Morgan, California strike the American colors on its flag pole and run up the Mexican flag? If not, why not? Weren’t they afraid of offending their Mexican-American students?

There are so many things wrong with this story on so many levels.

First off, how is it that Cinco de Mayo is a “Mexican-American” holiday? It is a Mexican holiday surely. And I suppose that if one wants to observe it here in America one can, But the comment made by one student that it is a “Mexican-American” heritage day and that she felt “disrespected” by the sight of an American flag on “her” holiday makes no sense to me. I am of Scottish heritage. Should I therefore feel “disrespected” if I see someone wearing an American flag t-shirt on St Andrew’s Day?

For those of you who are unaware, St Andrews Day, is the feast day of Saint Andrew, celebrated on 30 November. St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and St Andrew’s day is the official national day of Scotland. In that regard, it is a bit like the 4th of July, which Wikipedia lists as the national day of the United States. However it is not the same thing as Cinco de Mayo; indeed, again according to Wikipedia, the national day for Mexico is 16 September (Grito de Dolores). Comparisons of Cinco de Mayo with the Fourth of July are forced at best; at worse they simply display a lack of understanding of the history of Mexico as part of a PC attempt to be “inclusive” of the “heritage” of Hispanics, citizen and immigrants, legal and illegal alike.

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. It is the commemoration of a battle that took place at Puebla, Mexico; 52 years after Mexico declared independence from Spain on 15 Sep 1810. It is interesting to note that we make a big deal of it here in the States, but in Mexico? Not so much.

One of the students, who was “put out” by the “offensive” wearing of the American Flag on “her” holiday stated that “she wouldn’t think of wearing a Mexican flag on the Fourth of July”.

Why not? If she did, who would care? I certainly wouldn’t. America is made up of people from all around the world. Many countries have had revolutions, inspired by the success of ours. We were the first to successfully overthrow colonial oppressors from Europe; Mexico was following in our footsteps. We were fighting against what was then the world superpower. Our victory was unlikely; but we did prevail.

Cinco de Mayo was also such an unlikely victory. The Mexican army, out-numbered two to one, undersupplied and ill-equipped, still managed to decisively crush the French army; an army that was the best army in the world at the time, and which had not been defeated for nearly 50 years. Awesome!

I wonder if we offend the Brits who are here in the United States every Fourth of July when we celebrate our independence from them? Should we, perhaps, celebrate some British victories over our colonial forces as well, so they don’t feel “left out?” Maybe a Presidential apology is in order.

To me, this entire incident only serves to highlight why public schools should adopt school uniforms. I know, radical idea. Stifling “freedom of expression” and all that. But apparently, it’s ok to stifle that freedom of expression if the school thinks it might be “offensive” to someone. So since the public school system isn’t, after all, a bastion of free expression, but merely a bastion of politically-correct expression, perhaps we should remove all such “expression” and get back to the work of teaching the students reading, writing, and arithmetic, like most parents expect that they are supposed to be doing in the first place.