CBS- Leilani Thomas won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Lower Lake High School American flag, or any other American flag. She is a Native American and argues the Stars and Stripes aren’t hers.
“It’s the reason, because of the history that happened here. On my land. My people’s land,” said Thomas. “I go by that and I don’t agree with it. So I’m not going to stand for the people who did this to my people.”
Since the first day of school, Thomas and her friend chose to exercise their rights as Americans not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in their first period class. Their teacher took exception to it.
When the girls got their grades Friday, their participation scores were docked from a five to a three because they refused to stand. Thomas recorded her teacher’s explanation in class.
“Here’s the deal. If you really, really have an argument and feel so strongly about, then I need to see it written out — your argument — in an essay form,” the teacher is heard saying. “Like, why? Why, because here’s the thing; those people, they’re not alive anymore. Your ancestors.”
In the meantime, Thomas and her friend hope their stance serves as a real life lesson on free speech.
“She says that it represents the military and that they risked their lives for us,” said Thomas. “And I always tell her, ‘Well, my people risked our lives for our land, for our freedom. For our rights.”
Look, I think we can stop short of pretending that two girls in an upscale high school in Northern California are bringing about change by instigating the inevitable verbal abuse (disguised as Patriotism) that only teenage peers can provide. They do, however, have a legitimate gripe. I mean, we basically landed on Plymouth Rock and used the heads of natives to climb to the top of it. The very foundation of America as we know it was based on the trivialization of their people so I guess you could say they have a point, and it's a point that's only made stronger by their teacher's lack of a point...
Students: "Okay teach, give us one good reason why we should feel obligated to stand?"
Teacher: "Because your ancestors are fucking dead so they don't need your support."
Oh, yikes. I think I would have stuck with the nauseatingly repetitive argument that a bunch of kids mindlessly chanting something that's been instilled in their brain since they started dressing themselves is the highest honor to the military. I'm sure our armed forces haven't gotten tired of getting dragged into the middle of this nationwide pissing match while being used as nothing more than a bargaining chip. Should have just went back to the well with that one, because "your ancestors were oppressed into extinction" isn't exactly the greatest selling point for the country responsible for it. Probably going to do a little better than "haha, your great-great-grandparents are dead!" if you want to justify docking students' participation grades for free speech. Just because she's the teacher doesn't mean she doesn't have a couple of things to learn herself. Like - oh, i don't know - basic human decency? The ability to expand on an argument without becoming wildly offensive? That would be a pretty good start for someone in charge of making America less stupid than it's become over this Colin Kaepernick craziness.
P.S. Participate grades in high school? That's a bigger sign of our nation's downfall than anything else that took place in this story.