I strongly support the privilege allowed to all groups of Americans to celebrate their heritage. We are a nation of immigrants -- the most diverse nation in the world, a nation built on the notion that all Americans are created equal, a nation, working “to create a more perfect union” in understanding the original intent of our founders as we move forward: a nation which believes in the concept of E pluribus unum -- Out of many, one.
However, each group of immigrants which comes to America, as home, must be willing to become part of the American fabric, part of the unique American culture, part of the American dream. These groups must understand the Constitution of the United States and be willing to abide by it. The Bill of Rights must be cherished and honored.
Individuals and groups have the right of expression. However, it should never be questioned whether or not American students, on American soil, in an American school have the right to display an American flag. As a result of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, we must now tell our children, our students, our teachers that displaying the American flag in America is a privilege that can be denied, not a right that will be defended.
The recent ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled officials at a Northern California high school were right to place their concerns about racial violence over the right to freedom of expression. Administrators at Live Oak High School in San Jose said they were worried that American-flag shirts would incite violence from Latino students, prompting the administrators to order several students to turn the shirts inside out or go home during a 2010 Cinco de Mayo holiday celebration. Benjamin Franklin was correct: a nation that puts security above freedom will end up with neither.
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How does Common Core thinking fit into this ruling? The value statements in Common Core English Language Arts and those being developed for Social Studies lead students to believe America is a racist, self-absorbed and greedy nation. This thinking leads to appeasement and compromise of the rights of American citizens. Such implications will tear our country apart. Don’t be fooled: this is about the heart and soul of America.
I believe in all of our students; I believe in our teachers; I believe in America. Let us work to ensure that students are taught how to hold civil discussions without compromising their rights, without caving into threats; no one should give public officials, paid by public dollars, an excuse to sacrifice our right as Americans to display the flag or give them the excuse not to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
The school system should have called out every peace officer and the National Guard to defend the right of our children to display our flag. I disagree vehemently with the concept that safety trumps the right of citizens to exercise their rights. I defended a student’s right to wear the image of the Confederate Battle Flag, understanding the slippery slope of expanding civil rights denial. I was attacked by the liberal destroy and kill machine and left for dead. However, I did not and will not cave in or give up. At some point we must be willing to die for our rights; otherwise, we have no rights at all.
The writer, who lives in Pendleton, is a Republican candidate for S.C. Superintendent of Education