President Joe Biden posted on Tuesday that “now is the time for all Americans to speak up when history is being erased, books are being banned, and diversity is being attacked.” He’s not necessarily wrong, but the president has it backward. It is his allies who are in a mad rush to erase history.
On that, the president can be schooled by Jaiden Rodriguez, a 12-year-old who attends the Vanguard School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This week, school officials removed Rodriguez from class because his backpack had a patch of the Gadsden flag.
The story is instructive in two ways that are related: First, it shows how far the Left has gone to smear America and its symbols in the single-minded pursuit of erasing cultural attachments to make sweeping societal transformation easier. Second, the abject treatment of Rodriguez by adults who are clearly his intellectual inferiors should make clear to all the unconstitutionality of “inclusion.”
Let’s first focus on the flag. It will be instantly recognized by most, even if they do not know its name. On a yellow background, it has a coiled timber rattlesnake seemingly ready to strike, and the words beneath it read, “Don’t Tread on Me.”
The flag was designed by Christopher Gadsden, a South Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1775, with help from another patriot, Benjamin Franklin. Gadsden became a colonel in the Continental Army that liberated this country from British rule. It was then used by some Marines as they went into battle. Americans have long waved it as a symbol of defiance against oppression.
Except Vanguard School officials apparently think the flag represents slavery, because now, everything does. The “educators” at the school, inside scare quotes on purpose, kept young Rodriguez out of his classes until he agreed to take off the supposedly offending patch.
In an email this Monday to Rodriguez’s mother, Eden Rodriguez, an official at the Vanguard School, a charter school in Colorado Springs that is within the Harrison School District 2, wrote: “I am providing you the rationale for determining the Gadsen Flag is considered an unacceptable symbol.”
The flag, the email said, is “tied to the Confederate flag and other white-supremacy groups, including ‘Patriot’ groups.”
Now, none of this is true, but there was more mind-boggling nonsense. In a video that has now gone viral, a school administrator, called a “director,” is seen explaining to Rodriguez and young Jaiden that “the reason that we do not want the flag displayed is due to its origins with slavery and the slave trade.”
The video shows the administrator telling Rodriguez that, to be sure, she was concerned about Jaiden missing so many classes. “I just want him to go back to class.” But then she adds, motioning to the backpack, “That can’t go back. … We can’t have this around other kids.”
As Rodriguez begins to instruct the instructor on the meaning of the flag, Jaiden (poised, his hair combed neatly, his backpack firmly affixed to this tiny frame) can be seen proudly looking at his mother, confident that she will put the administrator to rights. Different versions of the photo of that moment have now been shared several times over on social media.
“This has nothing to do with slavery. It’s a Revolutionary War patch,” Rodriguez protested. “The Founding Fathers stood for what they believed in, against unjust laws, and this is unjust,” added Rodriguez, explaining that Jaiden makes the honor roll and “he wants to get straight As,” something that the suspension will make difficult.
The school administrator, sensing she might be on shaky historical, constitutional, and moral grounds, then gave the just-following-orders explanation that has not exactly panned out in the past. “I am here to enforce the policy that is provided, by the district, and you definitely have every right to not agree with it,” she said.
Well, Vanguard School, which as a charter school has some independence, wasted no time retreating faster than the Redcoats at Lexington and Concord. It was the district that was at fault, said its board of directors in a message.
“The Vanguard School recognizes the historical significance of the Gadsden flag and its place in history,” read the statement, adding that the Rodriguez family had been informed that Jaiden could return to school proudly sporting the flag patch.
Then, Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) jumped in and also had his say: “The Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American revolution and an iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans. It appears on popular American medallions and challenge coins through today and Ben Franklin also adopted it to symbolize the union of the 13 colonies. It’s a great teaching moment for a history lesson!” he posted.
But it was too late. The Left had revealed once again what it wants. First, it looks at the “inclusion” part of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” as a tool to enact unconstitutional language codes that restrict First Amendment rights.
It also seeks to erase American history, especially those iconic symbols that show defiance and national affections by everyday Americans, such as Rodriguez and her intelligent son. Biden is right. History is being erased, just not in the way he thinks.
This piece originally appeared in Restoring America by the Washington Examiner