Apparently not satisfied with the national disgrace that has been the NFL’s ongoing anthem protests, a suburban high school on the outskirts of Chicago has decided to go them one better. York High School outraged parents, patriots, and other members of the community last week when they allowed teachers to place an American flag on the floor in the library as part of an exhibit on free speech and the First Amendment. The exhibit lasted for only a day and students were not allowed to walk on the flag or desecrate it in any way. Even still, the “artistic protest” alone was enough to get the blood boiling in many who have had it up to here with the disrespect being shown nationally to our troops, our country, and our foundational principles of patriotism.
In a letter to parents, York High Principal Erin DeLuga defended the actions of the teachers and administrators. “It was used for students to reconcile their feelings about current issues and whether their First Amendment rights are protected,” DeLuga wrote. “The purpose of the forum was to explore the complexities of the constitutionally protected right of free speech by examining real cases.”
DeLuga explained the context of the desecration – a recreation of artist Dread Scott’s 1989 “What is the proper way to display a U.S. flag” exhibit, which attracted criticism from then-President George Bush.
“This is in no way meant to disrespect the flag, the military, or the government,” she insisted.
As reported by Todd Starnes of Fox News, however, the principal’s defense was not enough to quell the anger bubbling up from those in the community who see this as teaching students a very dangerous message:
“This is just plain disrespectful,” one school alumnus wrote. “I was taught at a very young age the flag never touches the ground. Never! I am so upset at this sorry excuse for educating today’s youth. “
“I am appalled at this form of teaching,” another graduate wrote on Facebook. “You say that this in no way was mean to be disrespectful, but in all reality it most certainly was.”
“Your staff is disrespecting our American flag,” wrote a York alumni who served in the military. “My grandfather, a York alumni, fought in World War II – risking his life for that flag you put on the ground. Want to teach freedom of speech – disrespect a Nazi flag.”
Unlike the NFL protests, we can see both sides of the argument here. The school appeared to be teaching a legitimate history lesson, although we have to wonder if this was the exact right timing for such a display. Still, the outrage shows that feelings about anti-flag demonstrations are extremely hot right now. Patriots believe that we are cultivating an atmosphere of disrespect for American institutions, including the military, the flag, and the Constitution itself, and it’s hard to see where they’re wrong. Just as it’s hard to take the “free speech” people seriously when, on another day, they would be calling on conservative speakers to be banned from a university campus.
And Starnes made a good point: What would these people have said if the school had placed a rainbow flag on the floor for desecration?
The left’s “symbols of America” are, after all, still sacred.