Flag Stomping at a South Carolina High School
Judging from the comments on last week's post about MIchael Moore, about a quarter of you think I am a communist, a quarter of you think I am a reactionary Republican, and 1/2 of you just hate Michael Moore. I'm still a bit unclear how that post had anything to do with politics, which is what some of you said, but so it goes...To be honest, I don't ascribe Michael Moore's position to being either the left or the right more predominately. Certainly it is understood that Mr. Moore is on the left, but his position there (about an Military Industrial Complex that is turning people into sheep) is one that I find just as often amongst a small subset on the right, the people I usually refer to as the "Smedley Butler wing." Nonetheless, whether right, left, libertarian, vegetarian, rastafarian or any other group of people, I think saying that no one supports the troops is just wrong. In my experience here, when you offer people an opportunity to help the troops, they usually come through for you.
When we ran the COP Keating fund raiser, people came together from all sides and supported it to the tune of over $250,000. I had conservative comentators like MIchelle Malkin supporting us, and in another fund raiser received a sizeable donation from San Francisco pitcher Barry Zito, who was affectionately nicknamed "Planet Zito" for his idiosyncratic ways. I've known troops who received care packages from Ellen Degeneres while deployed, and I doubt anyone has ever accused her of being a right-wing Republican. Nor Al Franken who has done seven USO tours, four of them to Iraq. I've never believed that any political side held a sole and exclusive grip on supporting the troops. I just know that whoever says we don't support them doesn't have a clear understanding of what we do.
And so it is with some trepidation of what might show up in the comments that I bring up this story. I'm sure folks will complain about this story as well. The reality is, this story is in the news, and garnering lots of comments. And that is something we talk about. I do pieces all the time about veterans who have passed on, and they get a moderate amount of comments, but when I discuss something like this, the comments section tends to run wild. So, here you go.....
Apparently the town of Chapin where this occured is just outside Columbia, South Carolina. Seems an odd place for someone to think that this was going to go bye without problems. If you haven't been to Columbia recently, it is dotted with various parks dedicated to the military and veterans. It's an incredible military-friendly area. I went to college down the road a piece at The Citadel, and when I went to PLDC (the Sergeants academy) it was there at Fort Jackson. So it isn't exactly a hot bed of anti-military bias.
I can't help but wonder what the point this English teacher was trying to make. It certainly can't be that high schoolers show TOO MUCH respect for things like this, can it? I assume it was some sort of "Dead Poet's Society" type thing, but I don't recall Robin Williams ever stomping on a flag to make his point.
Anyone have any idea what point he was trying to make here? If it is just about the power of symbolism, aren't there easier ways to do that? I did find it interesting that the only two symbols mentioned are the flag and a picture of a cross. I'm assuming he didn't do it with either a Star of David or the Al Qaeda flag, so was the point that it is okay as long as it is something the majority supports?
UPDATE: The Teacher responds:
Darryl D. Smalls says 12-year teacher Scott Compton was attempting to show his classes that America is an "inspirational idea," greater than the "material objects that represent it," during a lesson on symbolism.
"He made only positive comments about America throughout this lesson," wrote Smalls in an emailed statement to WIS. "The version of events currently circulating is incomplete."
"He meant no intentional disrespect to those men and women who served our country or to America itself," continued Smalls. "Several members of his family served in the Armed Forces and they have his total support given all of the facts of the lesson."
"Many people have rushed to vilify my client based on one segment of the story related through a secondhand account," wrote Smalls. "My client has had an exemplary twelve year teaching career and was only trying to create a forum for discussion using a powerful symbol with which all his students would be familiar."
My question to this response is why is this a subject to be discussed in an English class? If it were a civics lesson or something it would be simliarly idiotic, but the context might matter, but this is an honors English course.
The fact that he meant no "intentional disrespect" doesn't really make it any better to me. Should a teacher be cognizant enough of what he is doing to know that this is a horrid idea? There would seem to me to be any number of ways of making the same point without desecrating our flag, no? Would he advocate something like burning a copy of Cather in the Rye for instance? I'm assuming no, so how is this a better means of discussing the topic of symbolism?