Some Muslim groups are offended by a patriotic paean about the American flag by Charlie Daniels in which the country music legend sings, "This ain't no rag, it's a flag/And we don't wear it on our heads," reports The Knoxville News-Sentinel.

The song, "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag," has been getting considerable airplay on country music stations despite the fact that it has been labeled insensitive in some circles. The sentiments established by the head-rags line foster an "uneducated view" about Islam and will foster more prejudice against Muslims, some people complained.

Daniels wrote the song in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He wanted to premiere it at the Country Freedom Concert in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 21 but backed out when the organizers, Clear Channel Entertainment and Country Music Television, asked him to remove the lyrics because they were inappropriate, according to The Hollywood Reporter.


Virginia's solicitor general went to federal court last week seeking to reverse a judge's decision that allowed a heritage group to display the Confederate flag on specialty license plates, reports The Virginian-Pilot.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued the state of Virginia in 1999 after the General Assembly approved a plate for the organization but refused to allow the group's logo, which features a Confederate flag. Some state legislators argued the flag represents bigotry.

U.S. District Judge Jackson L. Kiser ruled in January that Virginia's refusal to issue the tag violated the group's free speech rights, but the state has appealed the decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Blackface Blackballed

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater placed sanctions on a fraternity that did a variety show at which a member appeared in blackface, reports The Associated Press.

The student put brown paint on his face as part of a skit based on old Nike commercials. He was trying to portray former NBA star Charles Barkley's appearance when he said, "I am not a role model."

About 50 students protested afterwards, so the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity was banned from participating in campus variety shows unless they apologize to the Black Student Union and must also participate in diversity programs. The university is investigating other punishments, including the expulsion of the 70-student chapter from campus.

(Thanks to Daniel P.)

Ethnic Counselors on the Job

Counselors at Yale University last week forced students to remove from a dormitory there a banner reading "Kill 'em all, Let God sort 'em out" because it was interpreted by many as a hate message directed against Muslims and South Asians, reports the Yale Daily News.

Ethnic counselor Edward Teng told the paper that although everyone has the right to free speech, the banner might create a hostile environment for some ethnic minorities. He said his primary concern was for Muslim-Americans, Indian-Americans and South Asians and how the sign might encourage people to treat their peers on campus.

The students who put up the banner said the sign was meant as a joke to counter pro-peace banners, and said they do not advocate violence.

Protecting Indigenous Knowledge

Lego has agreed to stop using Maori names in a range of toys after protests from the Kiwi native group that the Danish toy maker was improperly using "indigenous knowledge" for commercial gain, reports the BBC.

After meeting with Maori officials in Auckland, Lego executives said they would halt production of the Bionicle toys using Maori names or words or traditional knowledge from any other culture.

Bionicle involves a group of imaginary inhabitants of the island of Mata Nui, called the Tohunga, who are in the power of an evil beast called Makuta. Some Maori tribes were described as "incensed" by the use of these Polynesian words, and want greater legal protection of such intellectual property in the future.

Voices of Reason

A special community panel in Maryland convened to deliberate on the fate of Havre de Grace High School's Warrior mascot voted to keep the Native American mascot despite pressure from Indian activists in the state, reports The Baltimore Sun.

The local board of education accepted the panel's recommendation and agreed to keep the mascot, to the disappointment of Richard Regan of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs. "I think it is a sad day when the public school system has more in common with the Ku Klux Klan than an advocacy group representing Maryland's American Indians," said Regan.

But board member Robert B. Thomas Jr. said he hoped the state would not "waste resources, energy and time" examining the issue further "when there are far more pressing issues pertaining to public education in this state."

Librarians That Never Learn

Boulder, Colo., library employee Marcellee Gralapp has turned down employee requests to fly a large American flag from the glass entrance of the main branch of that city's library because it might make some people uncomfortable, reports The Daily Camera.

Gralapp said to hang the flag would compromise the organization's objectivity. The idea is to make the environment of the library politically neutral, she said. "We have people of every faith and culture walking into this building, and we want everybody to feel welcome," Gralapp said.

Library employees can wear flag pins and ribbons, but Gralapp said she urges them to do it thoughtfully.

From the Central Servers:

Harry H. in Jonesboro, Ark., writes:

Amazing. These enlightened civil libertarians have vigorously labored to protect the dissemination of unpopular speech ever since the Vietnam era. The Berkeley generation of the Sixties waved the First Amendment banner whenever their ideas came under fire. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the modern politically correct establishment is childishly stealing newspapers to suppress ideas they arbitrarily deem to be "unsuitable."

Brian M. in Crow Flat, N.M., writes:

I live and work on a big cow ranch in New Mexico, yet I am not offended in the least by Dallas's football team calling themselves "Cowboys." I own and use horses for my livelihood, but the Colts and the Broncos are welcome to continue using their mascots as far as I'm concerned.

Kyle V. writes:

As an American Indian I would just like to set the record straight. As far as I am concerned, and the other Indians I have spoken with are concerned, the use of Indian mascots at schools and universities across America is not offensive. I wonder if these people who have nothing better to do with their time than to complain about, or worse, ban, mascots couldn't find a more productive way to spend their time.

Tell these people that they do not speak for me or any of the Indians I know. I grew up in San Diego county which has more reservations than any county in the U.S., and none of these issue's are prevalent in that area. We concern ourselves with the more important issues of the day such as education and hunger, housing, water supply's, taxes, you know, the important things.

Phil M. in Provo, Utah, writes:

I'm a Native American. I'm more offended by the fact that caucasions keep speaking out on what I'm supposed to be offended by than by all the team mascots and the tomahawk chop. Sports are supposed to be fun. Teams are named to show strength and power. Calling someone a brave showed respect. Being offended by the Fighting Sioux? Please! My dad wore a Cleveland Indians hat for years because he thought it was fun. Tell everyone to lighten up.

Mike W. writes:

I was reading your paragraph on political correctness, and another tongue-tying endeavor by Microsoft came to mind that I think is more ominous. Microsoft's FrontPage license agreement:

"You may not use the Software in connection with any site that disparages Microsoft, MSN, MSNBC, Expedia, or their products or services ...."

Monica L. in Peoria writes to report that:

I recently was using the MS Word thesaurus (97) and needed to look up the word "conservative." Here were my options: unprogressive, inflexible, obstinate and right-wing.

So, as an experiment, I looked up "liberal." These were my choices: tolerant, broad-minded, generous, unprejudiced, advanced and honorable.

Too bad Microsoft can't be more BROADMINDED and more UNPREJUDICED.

Bradford W. sends us this course description from Cal State San Marcos, intended for those who want to teach in grades K-12:

LTWR 465 Theory & Practice of Teaching Writing in K-12

W 1600-1845 Rallin

This course will focus on teaching writing in K-12. We will explore current theories of composing, process, and assessment. We will also discuss debates in literacy studies and writing instruction as they intersect and/or collide with postcolonial theories, feminist theories, queer theories, critical race studies, disability studies, and cultural studies. Some of the specific issues that we will engage with include the institutionalization of linguistic and cultural vocabularies in writing, the teaching of grammar, the politics of language and form, the relationship between these pedagogical issues and their political contexts (English Only legislation, anti-Affirmative Action campaigns, US-centrism in writing pedagogy and theory, etc.), and reading and writing in "Spanglish" and "Black English." Part of the work of the course will involve generating anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, and anti-nationalistic pedagogies for writing instruction.