Those push­ing an anti-mi­gra­tion mes­sage wave off key points of U.S. his­tory

Austin American-Statesman - - OPINION -

Re­cently a friend with weak­ness for pop­ulist-right Web talk copied me some­thing about the flag-hang­ing and -re­moval flap at Klein-Collins High in Spring. The orig­i­nal writer of the chain was out­raged that a Mex­i­can flag was dis­played with ap­proval, and again that a stu­dent who took it down was sus­pended, es­pe­cially af­ter re­cent re­ports of stu­dents sanc­tioned in Cal­i­for­nia for dis­play­ing the U.S. flag in ways found provoca­tive or in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

The screed in­cluded a North Amer­i­can map show­ing the U.S. as “Not Yours” and Mex­ico as “Yours,” and in­cluded the dis­claimer “This doesn’t mean I’m against im­mi­grants.” Le­gal ones. Like mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, he’s an­gry about ero­sion of main­stream Amer­i­can iden­tity, the de­ba­cle of border en­force­ment, and re­cent events whose jux­ta­po­si­tion seems sur­real.

I won­dered if the school in­ci­dent even oc­curred and found it did, sort of. Since I try to keep my friend con­nected to re­al­ity, I replied:

To ape that guy: Dis­lik­ing his trans­mis­sion doesn’t mean I like il­le­gal mi­gra­tion.

I briefly re­searched the flag in­ci­dent, and sev­eral things can be said, some in sup­port of the sense of ou­trage you pass on, but more not.

First, yes, tend­ing to in­dict the “lib­eral me­dia” just as “your friends” would want, is that the first 20 Google hits for “stu­dent sus­pended re­mov­ing mex­i­can flag” showed no main­stream me­dia, even three weeks later; rather, it was all blog and In­ter­net talk. It’s one ex­am­ple of how main­stream me­dia have alien­ated much of so­ci­ety. I did see it treated by Laura In­gra­ham — whom MSM would gen­er­ally not call main­stream. And I bet Rush Lim­baugh and Sean Han­nity were on it. Laura’s in­ter­view with the kid’s mother, with a photo of the flag where it hung, is the clos­est I came to re­li­able info within a few min­utes.

Next, in the same di­rec­tion (sup­port­ing ou­trage), I agree it doesn’t look good, even is of­fen­sive, at least when di­rectly com­pared with peo­ple be­ing sanc­tioned for dis­play­ing the U.S. flag. I’m sure Mex­i­cans with no love of us/U.S. are amused and en­cour­aged.

But there’s lots wrong with how the pop-right is push­ing its mi­gra­tion mes­sage.

Facts: One, the Mex­i­can flag was not on a pole. It was in­side the school, on a sort of ban­nis­ter. There’s quite a dif­fer­ence. Af­ter a photo show­ing fresh­men at­tend­ing their first day of teacher An­drew Fox’s geog­ra­phy class at Den­ver’s North High School was pub­lished in a lo­cal news­pa­per on Aug. 16, 2004, of­fi­cials said they re­ceived com­plaints over the Mex­i­can flag hang­ing in the class­room. The crit­i­cism led of­fi­cials to cre­ate a pol­icy that says the dis­play of for­eign banners must be tem­po­rary and re­lated to what is be­ing taught in class.

Two, it was up for a key Mex­i­can Amer­i­can hol­i­day-fes­ti­val, Cinco de Mayo, in a re­gion with a large His­panic pop­u­la­tion and cul­ture.

Cinco de Mayo hon­ors the one no­table Mex­i­can vic­tory, May 5, 1862, in the los­ing strug­gle against French in­va­sion. And since I doubt you like France, let alone French mil­i­tary con­quest on our doorstep as late as the Civil War; and since the French de­feat may well have pre­vented France from openly sup­port­ing the Con­fed­er­acy; and since the Repub­li­can Congress in 2005 went out of its way to ask Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush to sup­port Amer­i­can cel­e­bra­tions of Cinco de Mayo … you might re­con­sider the no­tion of hang­ing a Mex­i­can flag in­side a Hous­ton-area school on that day.

Three, even more im­por­tant, the trans­mis­sion doesn’t note the kid ac­tu­ally threw the flag away af­ter haul­ing it down, and never con­tacted school ad­min­is­tra­tioni about it. That’s ob­vi­ously wrong and left the school no choice. Ex­clud­ing that as­pect de­stroys what­ever cred­i­bil­ity “your” screed might’ve had, had other things been bet­ter rep­re­sented.

Four: Look on­line. Some say the Mex­i­can flag was di­rectly above an up­side-down U.S. flag, on the same pole! I lead in try­ing to show how the sup­posed best me­dia of­ten get facts of his­tory, geog­ra­phy, sci­ence and math wrong and don’t cor­rect them, but even they are still bet­ter than the open, pop­ulist Web. You can’t be a re­spon­si­ble cit­i­zen with­out grasp­ing this.

Next, re: “Yours” and “Not Yours”: He’s ei­ther ig­no­rant of or cel­e­brat­ing that the U.S. pro­voked and waged war against Mex­ico, tak­ing nearly half its ter­ri­tory, land that was in the His­panic sphere of in­flu­ence and pop­u­lated in part by His­pan­ics (who, like us, in­vaded In­dian land) for cen­turies. I’m not say­ing we should re­turn it to Mex­ico, which ap­proaches failed-state sta­tus. I’m say­ing gloat­ing, let alone gloat­ing ig­no­rantly, over a suc­cess­ful and ar­guably un­jus­ti­fied war (Abra­ham Lin­coln, for one, in Congress at the time, spoke loudly against it) is bad. Lin­coln wished for right to make might. To­tal­i­tar­i­ans and thugs em­brace might mak­ing right.

I hope you con­sider in these lights the mes­sage you passed. If you do, I’ve done my job with/for you on this oc­ca­sion.

Maria J. Avila

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