Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mistaking Spite for Patriotism

I've sort of put this blog on hiatus, mostly because I was really burnt out after last year's election and lost a lot of energy for talking about political issues. But sometimes, something just makes me so mad, I have to post.

Case in point:

The Mexican flag flies no more over the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum — and the U.S. flag is gone, too.

The museum's board of trustees voted to remove the flags — which had flown side-by-side since 1954 — after receiving complaints and threats about flying the Mexican flag.

Questions from visitors about why the Mexican flag was being flown on U.S. soil escalated in the past couple of years, said board chairwoman Sophia Kaluzniacki.

An anonymous death threat against the museum's animals made earlier this year by a phone caller also factored into the board's decision, but to a lesser degree, she said. The desire to avoid controversy on border-related issues was the main thrust, she said.

A death threat. Against animals. Over flying a flag. Kinda makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it?

I really find it hard to believe people can be this hateful. Or ignorant. It's called the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Because it features animals and vegetation native to the Sonoran Desert, the majority of which is found in Sonora, Mexico. It strikes me as highly appropriate and respectful to both countries that this beautiful and unique desert calls home to fly both flags equally.

But, no. People have to mistake ethno-centrism and spite against any country that isn't America for patriotism. It really makes me want to weep.

On the other hand, I really respect how the museum board handled the situation. While I'd prefer they continue to fly both flags, since people seem bent on interpreting that in a political, border-issue light, and since the museum is not and should not be a political institution, the decision to fly neither flag strikes me as a good compromise. I predict it won't satisfy the patriotism-means-hating-everybody-else crowd, who will decry the removal of the Stars and Stripes, but if we can't honor both countries that the Sonoran Desert spans, then we should honor neither. Good for you, Desert Museum.