Flag flap follow-up

After five Live Oak High students were sent home for wearing U.S. flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, some Live Oak High students wore white and purple to school as a sign of unity.  Others marched to Morgan Hill’s City Hall to demand respect for Mexican traditions. The student protesters “discussed a possible community-wide celebration of diversity and asked for ideas about how to bring the community together, said the city manager.

I think the best way to bring the community together is to avoid a “celebration of diversity” and focus on what students have in common.

Update: Live Oak High hides a “racist secret,” writes Bob Owens on Pajamas Media. The school has a MECHA club for Mexican-American students with some separationist rhetoric about rclaiming Aztlan on its web site. There are lots of MECHA clubs at California high schools and colleges and I don’t see them as a sinister force.  They give kids who might otherwise feel like outsiders a sense of belonging. Let me ask California teachers: Does MECHA push kids to resist assimilation? Is it good, bad, or neutral?

About Joanne


  1. Exactly. Excellent advice.

  2. I second that. A celebration of diversity was what started the whole flap.

  3. The problem is, pointing to diversity as a problem is a way of pressuring people to conform. And when you do that, it breeds intolerance.

    Geez, doesn’t anybody remember the old Twilight Zone episodes, “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” and “Number 19 Becomes You?”

    “Conform is the norm!” railed the pig-faced leader of the pig-faced society.

    Poor Donna Douglas. The operations failed and she was banished to live in a colony among people of her kind.

  4. Mark Roulo says:

    “The problem is, pointing to diversity as a problem is a way of pressuring people to conform. And when you do that, it breeds intolerance.”

    And yet, without *some* sort of communal consencus, you have no community, just a collection of people living in close proximity to each other. An excess of consensus leads to group-think, which is bad for reasons other than intolerance. An excess of “anything goes” leads to problems in the other direction.

    It would be nice to have some agreement among US citizens about what is important to have in common … but we don’t. And what agreement we have, is, I fear, declining.

    -Mark Roulo

  5. Joanne is right.The connotation of “celebrating diversity” does nothing to bring people together.

  6. Mark, you’re right, and you express that point well.

    In response to what my hero Joanne says, I think the point of celebrating diversity is to see how much we have in common. The differences are appreciated, for what they are, so that the common bond of our humanity is more apparent and thereby affirmed.

    In the 50’s, lots of families had the coffee table book, The Family of Man. It had 503 photographs from 68 different countries. Every page was different. On one page there was a British taxi driver with his family; on another page, an Amazon blow-dart hunter with his family. The point of the book, clearly, was that we’re all quite different, but essentially, we’re all the same.

    Celebrating diversity is a way of acknowledging the superficial in order to appreciate the essential.

    Those who are intolerant seem to get stuck on the superficial.

  7. The difference between “The Family of Man” and the current celebration of Cinco de Mayo is that the former was voluntary and thus an expression of interest in and a celebration of diversity and the latter is enforced and thus a celebration of nothing more then the whiff of authoritarianism our nation is willing to tolerate.

    Those who are intolerant seem to get stuck on the superficial.

    You got that right. Like assuming that enforcing involuntary celebrations of holidays under the assumption that having your face forcefully rubbed in another culture is actually better then waiting around for a genuine expression of interest which might never come.

  8. Homeschooling Granny says:

    I was a kid in the 50s. I grew up on “The Family of Man.” I understood it to be a celebration of common humanity, not a celebration of diversity. It helped me see past differences to our shared nature.

    Without the unifying vision of oneness, diversity is scary. Witness the number of people who are scared when they discover that not everyone shares their ideas and convictions. It seems that people who speak most strongly about celebrating differences of skin color are alarmed when the differences are over political or economic concepts.

    I am not at all concerned by the color of anyone’s skin. My family includes occidental, orientals and Africans. I am concerned by the sanctioning of scoff-law attitudes; that some laws, such as immigration, are to be broken. It makes those who bother to respect the law, including members of my family, suckers for jumping through all the hoops and paying all the money that legal immigration requires. I cannot teach my grandchildren to respect and abide by law and at the same time say that immigration law does not have to be obeyed and the people who break it are somehow the victims of those of us who abide by it.

    I see that I have strayed from the topic flags and Cinco de Mayo to the possibly related issue of illegal immigration. Please give me that leeway.

  9. SuperSub says:

    Robert –

    If the day was supposed to be a celebration of diversity, then the school should have welcomed the display of any flag, whether it be Mexican, American, Canadian, or otherwise.
    The fact that the day was designed (and enforced) to celebrate only one part of the school’s culture actually is a lack of diversity, which is why some students felt the need to express the one culture that the entire student body shares.
    I’m curious what has happened in the past on Cinco de Mayo, and whether this incident was precipitated by previous attempts of the administration or students to force the ‘celebration’ on the whole student body.

  10. Richard Aubrey says:

    I remember “The Family of Man”. It was a celebration of unity. That’s why it was called “family”.
    Anybody who thinks it was a celebration of diversity no doubt gives himself wonderfulness points for drinking saki and eating crepes.

  11. SuperSub says:

    I drink saki and eat crepes, but instead give myself yumminess and fullness points 😛

  12. Homeschooling Granny,

    I just wanted to say that I found your last line “Please give me that leeway” to be very charming and sweet. It is very rare to find that kind of politeness on the internet, especially in a comments section! Thank you.

  13. Oh, I think a couple of us here did a little mix-up.

    The Family of Man wasn’t being compared to Cinco de Mayo but rather the celebration of diversity that some concerned students are organizing as a way of cooling the conflict and bringing everyone back together.

  14. momof4 says:

    Sometimes, “diversity” is used to exclude or intimidate non-Hispanic whites. I’m thinking of two college students who were told – emphatically – to leave a public event hosted by the campus Hispanic organization(s), because they were not Hispanic. Although both students spoke fluent Spanish and wished to use it, their kind of diversity was unwelcome. One of the students had been to many Asian and Pacific Islander events and had been welcomed, even though she didn’t know any of the languages, and to Hillel events even though she was not Jewish. A number of friends, from different schools, had heard about or themselves experienced similar treatment.

  15. momof4, when that happens, it’s absolutely terrible.

    I was excluded once in a similar situation and it made me mad.

    I hope such things are not common.

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    Don’t know about the mix-up.
    The real mix-up is seeing “Family” as a celebration of diversity instead of unity.

  17. Richard, I’m pointing out the either/or fallacy.

    Celebrations of diversity are celebrations of unity and The Family of Man is a clear example.

  18. Richard Aubrey says:

    A celebration of diversity is not explicitly us vs. them.
    Family of man is us, cinco is us vs. them.

  19. Cinco de Mayo could be characterized as an us vs. them.

    But the event that the concerned students are planning for the near future, which they are calling a celebration of diversity, is not us vs. them.

  20. Richard Aubrey says:

    In that case, all will be welcome. On equal terms.
    That’s the definition.
    We’ll see if it’s reached.
    I have never seen anything relating to diversity in which all were welcome. Never.
    Eric Holder said the nation needs to have an honest discussion on race.
    Nobody with an ounce of sense will interpret that as any thing other than that whites shut up and listen.

  21. Let’s hope the concerned students at Live Oak are successful in their efforts to ease tensions and foster unity.

  22. The melting pot and color-blindness were apt descriptions (now maligned) of America’s unique desire to live peaceably together under an umbrella of unifying values and concepts that respect every individual’s right to life, liberty, (property) and pursuit of happiness. Assimilating to American customs and traditions amazingly does not mean completely expunging the cultural heritage we celebrate in our own lives.

    “I remember “The Family of Man”. It was a celebration of unity. That’s why it was called ‘family’.” R Aubrey

    “…Never in recorded history has diversity been anything but a problem. Look at Ireland with its Protestant and Catholic populations, Canada with its French and English populations, Israel with its Jewish and Palestinian populations … Third World hellholes like Afghanistan, Rwanda and South Central, L.A….’Diversity’ is a difficulty to be overcome, not an advantage to be sought.!…'” Ann Coulter

  23. Joanne, in answer to your question about MECHA, I think it is overall a good thing even though the rhetoric is passionate and sometimes angry. Students who would never learn about the treaty of Guadalupe Hidgaldo in class or the story of the San Patricio Brigade, learn it in MECHA.

    Sometime when MECHA presents itself in public, it carries the American flag along side the Mexican flag. It depends on the chapter.

    We have some fine public leaders and artists who were in MECHA when they were younger.

    It’s inclusive enough for me to have been a member for four years, and I’m not even close to being Mexican.

    I think it’s great.

    But the style is more Black Panther than NAACP.

    There are less aggressive Mexican-American organizations on campuses. An advantage to MECHA is that it’s a national organization and students can get ideas and materials off the shelf.

    I can see where some of the rhetoric about Atlzan and so forth can upset establishment types. That appears to be part of the appeal. Youthful rebellion is natural and nationalism is often a necessary stage toward healthy assimilation.

    Is it counterproductive? Well, I don’t think so. Some people who are easily upset aren’t going to be supportive no matter what.

    The bottom line is, I think students who join it get a lot out of it.

  24. Richard Aubrey says:

    The students you speak of fail to learn a great many other things.

    The 442d RCT is a more modern equivalent of the San Patricios, with the exception that they didn’t sell out their country. Minor issue, really. Or maybe it makes them sellouts.
    Whichever, kids don’t learn about them, either.

    It’s also kind of a problem to insist that it took renegade Irishmen to be Mexico’s best battalion.

    Used to be, balkanization was considered a bad idea. But opposing it makes one “racist”, doesn’t it?

  25. Richard Aubrey says:

    Now cometh the Santa Rita school district where, in art class, a kid was reproached for drawing the American flag (teach said it was “offensive”), while another was praised for drawing Obama.
    It appears the admin handled it well, except for not firing the teacher who, afterwards, told the kid she shouldn’t have gotten her parents involved.
    What is the maximum number of morons a school system can employ before things start coming apart?

  26. Richard, an advantage to MECHA is that students get together and discuss and debate topics of history and sociology that they would probably not bother with in an academic setting.

    (The same thing happens when students attend their church youth groups. Topics of philosophy are discussed that never come up in high school classes.)

    As for “balkanization,” I remember that was a word that was used a few years ago when I founded an alternative school the year before the charter school law was enacted.

    Today, the teachers’ unions call the move toward charter schools “balkanization.”

    No, I don’t think the term makes one racist. But it sure is used a lot when somebody wants to strike out and do something new and apart. The term is often used by conservatives who feel comfortable with the status quo and uniformity.

    In my opinion, we need charter schools, we need voucher schools, we need to try new things in order to move forward. We can’t be shackled and immobile by fear of change and fear of differences. We shouldn’t have to be all on the same page.

    As for the San Patricios, I think Abraham Lincoln regarded them as heroes who put their lives on the line for American values to a far greater extent than the grunts who were “just following orders” in an officially sanctioned land grab.

  27. Richard Aubrey says:

    I don’t think the Mexican government of the time exemplified American values. The Irish changed sides because, among other things, the Mexicans weren’t against Roman Catholicism. Not long after that, there were so many Irish lifers that the Irish NCO became a stock character in fiction.
    But that view would certainly put the 442d in a bad light, wouldn’t it?
    But it wasn’t just any land grab. As some Mexican friends of ours said, the US took the part of Mexico that had all the good roads.
    I love their humor.

  28. Richard Aubrey says:

    What is it with this thing?
    I imagine that church youth groups have discussions of things not covered in school. Secession and sedition were not, to my knowledge, part of them. And I’m a Presbyterian, where balkanization is Good Thing, on account of the US as presently constituted, is a Bad Thing.
    I speak of the hierarchy, of course. The pewdwellers ignore the hierarchy.

  29. I agree with you. The Mexican government didn’t exemplify American values. But I also agree with Lincoln, that the San Patricios did.

  30. Richard Aubrey says:

    I dunno. Fighting for a tyranny is kind of dodgy. I’d be interested in hearing Lincoln’s views of the SPs.
    IMO, they’d have been justified in deserting, if their treatment were bad enough–there’s a contract, implicit and explicit between a soldier and his army–but not fighting for a tyranny.

  31. Richard Aubrey says:

    Oh, yeah. According to Robert Leckie, in “Wars of America”, women were part of the attraction for the SPs.
    Kind of putting it all together. Women, free RC worship, getting away from bigoted treatment.
    Fight for ideals….

  32. MEChA may not be a racist organization in high school, but I think that’s just a way of hooking the kids. Look at what they preach in college. Look at El Plan de Santa Barbara among its other founding documents.

    I find it interesting that MEChA is extremely anti-white and anti-Anglo, yet they adopt the language (Spanish) of their true conquerors.

  33. Richard Aubrey says:

    We think we have trouble with multi-lingual education now. Wait until a lost Uto-Aztecan tongue hits the ed colleges.
    A bit of hypocritical convenience never hurt anybody.

  34. Richard, women did play an important part in that conflict. American soldiers raped Mexican women in order to provoke them to fight. The initial incursion was not enough for any Mexican to fire a shot.

    I don’t think there is any historian today who would say that one of the reasons for going to war with Mexico was to put an end to tyranny.

    There was a lot of yellow journalism at the time but it was rather transparent.

    Studying American history is an excellent way to understand where we are now as a nation and where we need to go.

    The parallels of The War with Mexico and The Vietnam War and the invasion of Iraq are striking.

    The issues raised from the study of The War with Mexico are numerous. I think it is an excellent topic for study.

    Unfortunately, it’s given rather short shrift in our textbooks which all have to be first approved by the great state of Texas.

    The study of American history strengthens our democratic institutions. I wish there was just more than one year devoted to it in high school–and with materials written outside of Texas.

  35. Richard Aubrey says:

    Missed again. The SPs, which were the immediate topic, were told that, if they switched sides, there would be sweethearts, etc.
    Plus better food–always a come-on.
    THe SPs fought for a tyranny. We weren’t discussing who the US was fighting for or against.
    I keep telling you, you can only get away with this kind of misdirection and obfuscation if the audience is dependent on you for a grade.
    We’re not.
    You can do better than Zinn, if you want to, which apparently you don’t.

  36. Richard, I think your source of information happens to be seriously flawed.

    I’m not misdirecting you. I’m asking you to view several sources of information before you make up your mind.

    The War with Mexico is an excellent topic for study–but if you limit your sources, it won’t really be study.

  37. Richard Aubrey says:

    Missed again. The sources of information isn’t the subject. The question was why the SPs went over to the Mexicans.
    If we agree that the Mexican government was a tyranny, then the SPs were fighting for a tyranny. They may have had good reasons to go over, but they ended up fighting for a tyranny. They may not have had the slightest clue how the Mexican government worked, but they were fighting for it, which meant they were fighting for a tyranny.
    The other issue is the obfuscation and misdirection as to the actual subject under discussion, which was the SPs.
    BTW, the great state of Texas is going to require that a mention of the sins of Joe McCarthy include info about the Venona intercepts. You have a problem with that?
    Conflating the Mexican War with the Viet Nam war, and the invasion of Iraq is interesting, but it requires either and ignorant audience or a docile audience.
    We are neither. Jeez. When are you going to catch on?

  38. Others marched to Morgan Hill’s City Hall to demand respect for Mexican traditions. The student protesters “discussed a possible community-wide celebration of diversity and asked for ideas about how to bring the community together, Because nothing brings people together like making demands. They want to discuss ways to bring people together like I want to discuss doing homework with my kids.

  39. Richard, once a person reads a variety of source material on the War with Mexico, they will be able to form their own opinions about why the San Patricios switched sides in that war.

    I’m not going to tell you what to believe. That wouldn’t do any good. But urging you to read more might.

    The Mexican government at the time was not a democracy. It was hardly anything at all. It was quite weak. Even if the leaders had tyrannical intent, they didn’t have the power to force it on their people to much degree. The U.S. at this time had elected officials–Abraham Lincoln being one of them–but the U.S. also maintained the most extreme form of tyranny, called slavery. Mexico did not.

    If tyranny was the issue, fighting against the U.S. seems to make more sense.

    But Mexico’s lack of democracy was not an issue.

    And to be tyrannical, you need to have strength, and Mexico had very little.

    The Irish came to America with the dream that their new land was a better place, better in many ways. When they saw first hand the behavior of the U.S. Army at the border, they were abruptly and severely disillusioned. They weren’t prepared for the radical hypocrisy of what they saw. The fighters for freedom turned out to be nothing but thugs guilty of rape, murder, racism and theft. The shock made them switch sides, even though they knew that they had little chance of winning. But sometimes, when moral choices are made, such as Washington’s choice to lead the Continental Army, it doesn’t matter that much if you’re going to win or lose. It matters that you do the right thing.

    Had they lived in the U.S. for a few years before joining the army, the shock probably wouldn’t have been so great. But they were recent arrivals, full of idealism, and what they saw was too much for them. And too much for Abraham Lincoln, as it turned out.

    Again, I urge you to do some more reading on the topic.

    As for the sins of Joe McCarthy, etc., it’s turned out that much of what the liberals at the time were saying has turned out to be simply not true. Soviet espionage and infiltration was much more extensive than liberals thought at the time.

    If liberals today still cling to the liberal beliefs of the 50’s, they’re closed minded and doctrinaire.

    Generally speaking, it’s even harder for a professed liberal to change his mind than an idiot conservative.

    People should read, become informed, form their own opinions, and not be closed minded.

  40. Richard Aubrey says:

    The Irish came to America so as not to starve.
    Ideals, of any kind, were secondary. I suppose a better place to live meant no rapacious landlords, no potato blight, and beingt left alone with one’s leprechauns.
    But mostly to not starve like so many of their countrymen.

  41. Richard Aubrey says:

    Jeez. I like your idea that being in America for a few more years would have brutalized the Irish to insensibility.
    I think Zinn would consider you extreme.
    The question about McCarthy and Venona was a matter, not of your views of the matter, but of the requirement in the textbooks of the great state of Texas, which you seemed to dismiss.
    Do you have a problem with that in the textbooks, was the question, not whether liberals got caught screwing the pooch once again.

  42. Richard, though it’s true that the driving force for Irish immigration was economic, many came with an idealized vision of America’s democratic and humanitarian values.

    To answer your question, do I have a problem with the textbook revision that mentions Venona, the answer is no, not at all.

    Why? It’s short, it’s true, and it doesn’t distort the important facts about McCarthy and McCarthyism. In fact, it sheds some more light on the cold war.

    Do I have a problem with the influence of Texas on textbook selection for California? Though you didn’t ask that question, the answer would be yes.

    I like Texas and their unique mystical realism. In small doses.

  43. Richard Aubrey says:

    So, now, the Irish came to avoid starvation and, in their baggage, had an idealized view of the US. Big difference.

  44. Richard, sometimes you are rather difficult to comprehend.

  45. Richard Aubrey says:

    Too direct, I guess. First, you said the Irish came here with ideals galore and were grossed out by the Army’s treatment–according to you–of Mexicans. You said that if they’d been here longer, they might have become inured to such brutality, America being such a brutal place and all.
    Then, when presented with what everybody with a sixth-grade education knows–the Irish came in order to avoid dying of starvation–you say, yes, they did but they had an idealized view, too.
    Not only are you more extreme than Zinn, you’re pretty agile, too.
    Hard to keep you on topic when somebody who doesn’t depend on you for a grade mentions the obvious.

  46. Richard, the either/or fallacy is rather basic and if you were a student of mine, I’d ask you, do you live in your city or do you live in your state?

    The fact that the Irish came to America with more than one thing on their mind should not be that difficult to understand.

    Further, if you read a little bit about it, you won’t have to take my word for it, which you don’t trust.

    Your view of American history seems more based on being anti-Zinn than anything else which makes yours words more a reflection of your emotional bias than anything to do with social science.

    As for a grade, you’d get a low one for logic and coherence but a high one for attendance.


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