Ron Isaac’s Commentary: Principal: Take Off That Shirt!

Nov 30, 2021 by

Zionism and Black Lives Matter are two movements that transcend politics and are passionately championed by their adherents. 

Both are controversial in some circles. How one characterizes those “circles” is potentially inflammatory quite apart from the tenets of the movements themselves.

Recently, a New York City school principal reportedly prohibited a teacher from wearing a shirt that proclaimed his affiliation with one movement but permitted another staff member’s sporting apparel declaring his attachment to the other.

On the basis of her decision alone, the principal should not be accused of bias, but likely her action can be attributed to her private affinities rather than a scrupulous and impartial analysis of merit.

Banning of one message and tolerating the other certainly does not promote amity and democracy. The validity of ideas and the acceptability of speech should not be measured by its compatibility with the principal’s personal persuasions.

Both shirts should have been allowed or else neither.

The principal’s fear that an affirmation of the principle of Jewish statehood may disturb the peace of the school is an indictment of her judgement and leadership. Even if it were otherwise, kids need to learn to control themselves.  Students and adults too, need to grow up.

Paranoia is the new maturity.

When I was a student during the turbulent era of the Vietnam War and the civil rights revolution, we could declare our allegiances, sometimes awkwardly but generally without triggering verbal bloodshed or exclusion.

Times have changed.  Self-discipline and clarity of mind have slipped away. 

Maybe it’s the GMOs.

It’s a disgrace when people cannot resist seizing on any pretext to feel baited by conflicting loyalties and convictions. In our new America, any utterance can spark intellectual “road rage”. 

We draw sweeping, unforgiving and slanderous conclusions about voices that are non-aligned to the chorus of our own opinion.

We are infantalized by our hair-trigger tempers and raw nerves. We are muddling through a pandemic of narcissism. 

A consensus on what should be free and sanctioned speech is rendered impossible by the blinders of devious simplification.  Common sense and a sense of common ground are therefore useless as regulators and definers of fanaticism.

Must freedom of expression be suppressed like carnal urges in polite society if we are to live and let live? 

Need there be a moratorium on all airing of contentious topics until the restoration of fair and enforceable standards of civility?  We must be more tolerant of the intolerance of others and they of ours, even when the lack of empathy is reciprocal.

Maybe the principal can for the moment dodge the immediate challenge by opting for a school uniform without a hint of sentiment or message, made of smear-proof colorless yarn.

Ron Isaac

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