Patriotism is under fire in Western Michigan.
The OK Conference, representing 50 schools, has announced a crackdown on fans chanting, “USA” at football games. They are also implementing strict rules on flags and political banners.
“Coaches and fans are irate,” said Bill Simonson, the host of a statewide sports radio show. “People are tired of being told what flag to fly or what political side to lean towards.”
Mr. Simonson, who hosts “The Huge Show”, was the first to break this insane story.
The athletic conference’s crackdown comes after fans from a predominantly black school took offense after fans from a predominantly white school displayed a Betsy Ross flag and a “Make America Great Again” banner.
Critics called the flag racist and a local superintendent said it symbolized hate.
“To wave a historical version of our flag, that to some symbolizes exclusion and hate, injects hostility and confusion to an event where no one intended to do so,” wrote Forest Hills Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Behm in a letter to parents.
Simonson, host of "The Huge Show," told me local residents are furious.
“He painted a picture that the school is filled with insensitive people,” he said. ‘If Colin Kaepernick can have his freedom of speech and freedom of expression – guess what – it’s a two-way street.”
OK Commissioner Jim Haskins said their executive board decided that moving forward fans will only be allowed to chant “USA, USA” after the National Anthem.
He told Mlive.com that it has nothing to do with banning patriotism. He said students are using the chant in a derogatory manner – such as “U Suck (bleep) and those type of things.”
“That’s what we have the problems with,” he told the newspaper.
But television station WOOD reports the Michigan High School Athletics Association has not received any official complaints about fans “repurposing ‘USA’ to mean anything derogatory.”
The athletic conference is also cracking down on signs and banners and flags.
“Any signs, flags, banners, cheers, or promotional material that carry questionable implications or are degrading are prohibited at any OK Conference venue,” he told WOOD.
Mike Shibler, the superintendent of Rockford Public Schools, supports the crackdown.
“We will certainly inform our students that this type of behavior when done in a derogatory and insulting way will not be accepted and will not occur,” he told WOOD.
But what happens if a student argues that the chant is in fact patriotic?
“I don’t believe that,” the superintendent told the television station.
It sounds like Western Michigan is dealing with a severe infestation of liberal educators.
“This is the United States of America,” Simonson told me. “What happens if someone walks in with a military uniform and the kids want to chant, ‘USA’? You can’t do that? Are we living in Communist Russia?”
Instead of punishing all the fans, why not just identify the troublemakers and yank them out of the stands?
One thing I cannot abide is stupidity and ignorance. And there’s a whole mess of it in Western Michigan’s school system.
There is a time and a place for citizens to defy the government and this may be one of those moments.
I hope every person reading this column in Western Michigan will show up at tonight’s football games waving Old Glory. Post your photos on our Facebook page.
And if the Spirit moves, inhale a big gulp of air and belt out a patriotic cheer – one that we’ll be able to hear from sea to shining sea.
“USA, USA, USA.”
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.” Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.