Heather Lawrence, a 16-year-old from Spring Hill, FL, may want to rethink what it means to be a patriotic American.
A junior ROTC member who wants to enlist in the Army next Summer, Lawrence was recently suspended for chastising a fellow student in the halls who was wearing a hijab, saying, “Take that thing off your head and act like you're proud to be an American." She first took offense at the girl when she noticed that she didn’t stand for the pledge of allegiance. Lawrence's parents, outraged that she was suspended for five days, are thinking of taking legal action. (The girl Lawrence confronted didn't complain, but a teacher overheard the remarks and reported her.)
Lawrence’s parents say that it’s Heather’s First Amendment right to “speak her mind,” but Springstead High’s principal sees Heather’s behavior as a of violation the district’s policy against bullying and harassment. According to a school staffer who asked Lawrence why she confronted the student, her harassment seemed to have a prejudicial tinge. "She began to rant,” said the staffer, “that she was enlisting and was going to Iraq and that basically because the girl looks Middle Eastern, that makes her an enemy because all Iraqis are Middle Eastern."
We’ve talked before about how Muslim women wearing hijabs seems to set a lot of people off. As for having to say the pledge of allegiance, last year the US Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a provision in Florida law mandating that people must stand for the pledge.
What do you think of Lawrence’s treatment of the hijab-wearing Muslim-American and her subsequent suspension? When does patriotism go too far?