De Muchos, Uno

It’s been four days since May 5, and I’m still angry.

“Cinco De Mayo,” the annual quasi-bacchanalia of Mexican-American pride, had some extra connotations this year. Quite a few celebrants crossed the line from pride to supremacy, and there was some blowback.

In California, a few students decided that they’d show their pride in their heritage by wearing American flag apparel to school on that day. The school’s administration soon put an end to that nonsense — they were sent home for their “disrespectful” attire.

That got me angry, and when I get angry in cases like this, I get reading — and writing.

First up, there are almost no circumstances where a student should be disciplined for wearing an American flag. Sure, if the school has a uniform requirement or a dress code that forbids the apparel in question regardless of the flag aspect, then that’s one thing — it’s not the flag being singled out here. But banning the presence of the flag itself? No way.

In some places, the Mexican flag was raised to honor the holiday. Again, fine. But proper flag etiquette demands that no flag ever be raised higher than the American flag, or in its place, on American soil.

Then I started digging (OK, not very deeply) into the whole “Cinco De Mayo” thing. And I learned quite a bit about the holiday.

First up, it’s really not that big a deal in Mexico. It’s not their Independence Day — that’s September 16. It commemorates victory at the Battle Of Puebla, so it’s the equivalent of Bunker Hill Day here in the US.

And what was the Batle of Puebla? It was a Mexican victory over France in the middle of a long string of defeats that would have ended with Mexico losing, had not the United States offered a hand.

And really — the FRENCH? They’re proud of beating the French? That’s a pretty low standard right there…

What really got me steamed, though, was the massive student walkout on Thursday. 200 Mexican-American students protested, demanding that the offending students who had dared wear American flags to an American school on American soil be disciplined further (just being sent home for the day wasn’t enough to satisfy their wounded pride).


We don’t see this kind of reaction on St. Patrick’s Day or Columbus Day (two other holidays tied to ethnic groups here in the US that get short shrift in the homeland). No, it’s only on May 5th that it happens.

And that’s simply unacceptable.

As I said up front, pride is not only acceptable, but commendable. However, there is a line between “pride” and “supremacy,” and the reactions this last week showed us that a lot of people have crossed that line. By showing that they would not tolerate any other group asserting their own identity and pride on “their” day, they showed that their demands for “respect” are strictly a one-way street and they have no intention of showing any.

The 200 students who were “offended” and “insulted” by American citizens wearing their nation’s ensign to the point where they walked out of school are the ones who should be disciplined. The administration should have simply locked the doors behind them and told them to come back when they’re ready to acknowledge that non-Mexican Americans have rights, too.

At times like this, I start to worry that I sound a bit too much like Pat Buchanan and the “America First” crowd. But then I remember that the best lies have a grain of truth in them, it’s simply impossible for a human being to be wrong 100% of the time (Joe Biden being a possible exception), and anyone who doesn’t rankle at the thoughts of American citizens being told that wearing an American flag is “provocative” and “disrespectful” and “inappropriate” needs a serious attitude adjustment.

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