A 12-year-old named Jaiden was kicked out of class at a Colorado Springs middle school for wearing a Gadsden Flag patch on his backpack.
The reason? In a viral video from the incident, the school’s director claims that it was because the “don’t tread on me” flag was a symbol of slavery and the slave trade.
This is wrong.
Colonists created the flag during the Revolutionary War to symbolize independence from the British. Today, the flag is used predominantly by people opposed to government overreach, like libertarians.
After facing harsh criticism, the school board and school district have rescinded their decision to ban the patch and allowed Jaiden to return back to school.
It seems pretty cut and dry. A teacher wrongly punished a student because she didn’t know her history, and the school learned its lesson. So why has this story made national news?
There is a much larger picture than simply a one-off example of ignorance.
First, this taxpayer-funded school was teaching incorrect history to its students. If they were a private school, they could be more easily held accountable for their actions. However, since the government is funding them through forcefully collected money, they will continue to receive financial support, whether or not the school is successful at informing kids.
Beyond this teacher’s incorrect recollection of history, this is an explicit example of government censorship. As a government school, The Vanguard School should be required to uphold the First Amendment and allow students to express their beliefs freely. Even if the school district does not like the (incorrectly assessed) views held by the child, the government does not have the right to stop him from expressing them.
Finally, and most importantly, this follows the pattern of a larger ideology sweeping through our country—the rise of hypersensitive social justice, which has attempted to link every symbol associated with America to bigotry and hatred.
Our country and its founders were far from perfect, and we should criticize them when necessary. However, despite their flaws, America was an experiment to create the first government founded on the ideas of liberalism and liberty. People have come from all over the world for centuries to experience the freedom and prosperity we have today. The “American Dream” is only possible due to the ideas embedded in our country at its founding.
These American symbols threaten those who want to demonize our country and replace our individualist ideals with those of illiberal tribalism, as often embodied by the modern “antiracism” movement, as well as grow the government into the very authoritarian force we declared independence from in 1776.
Individualism and freedom are the best things about living in this country, and the American dream is worth saving. We can only do that by furthering the ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not by calling them bigoted. No one should idly allow the government to brainwash kids into believing otherwise.
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