Our Readers Write: MAGA hat, Red Rest

La Jolla Country Day School's head of school, Gary Krahn
La Jolla Country Day School’s head of school, Gary Krahn, generated a lot of attention last month after he asked a student to remove a “Make America Great Again” hat because it is “offensive to our community.”

Letters to the editor:

MAGA hat incident should provide us all a lesson in tolerance

I read the article regarding the student who wore his MAGA hat to school (“La Jolla Country Day student is asked to remove MAGA hat because it’s ‘offensive to our community,’” La Jolla Light, Nov. 26). Up to that point I had no idea that the president’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” and its acronym, MAGA, are associated with racism. I had sensed that it was controversial, but then everything associated with President Trump is a source of controversy for someone.

I did a search on the internet and skimmed several articles about it but did not find anything definitive as to why it is considered a racial slur.

Personally, I find it uplifting. In my heart it encompasses every American equally, no matter their race, religion, etc. I consider it a message of hope for all.

And that, I think, is what that young man who wore his MAGA hat to school was attempting to share. I applaud him for his courage and intent. According to the article, he was unaware of the racial significance. He had his own truth regarding what it meant and chose to share it with others.

The school’s administrator could have simply enforced the existing dress code, but instead he chose to take it further and impose his beliefs on both the student and his mother, resulting in embarrassment and shame.

We tend to think there is one truth and that we know what that truth is. We often feel compelled to try to force others to conform to our truth because it makes us feel more comfortable. In reality, there are as many truths as there are people on this planet. Our truths are formed by our individual experiences and beliefs. Each one is as unique as a snowflake and constantly evolving.

Perhaps the one thing we could all agree on is that we will never all agree on everything, and thank goodness for that. What a dull and uninteresting existence that would be.

If I could point to one thing that could make America greater than ever before, it would be for all of us to learn to tolerate and respect each other’s individual truths. We don’t have to agree or like another person’s truth, but we can let it be.

So I thank the student who wore his MAGA hat as well as the administrator who “set him straight.” Through their actions they have brought an important lesson to us all.

Gina Solomko

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Action against hat was a missed opportunity

As a former teacher and education administrator, I was disappointed and shocked to read of [La Jolla Country Day] Head of School Gary Krahn’s treatment of a student who chose to wear a MAGA hat to school, which was not against school rules.

Mr. Krahn says he told the student that the hat’s logo not only was a “symbol of racism and hatred” but was “offensive to the community.” He further shamed the student’s mother because of her son’s choice of apparel by saying “she will fulfill her role as a parent,” as if she hadn’t by letting her son make his own choices that did not break any school rules.

Mr. Krahn also missed the opportunity to take advantage of a “teachable moment,” something educators hope to find each day. He could have asked the student to prepare a paper on why he wears this hat and what it means to him. He could further suggest that he think and comment on why his choice of hat might be offensive to some of his classmates and obviously to the school head. This would have provided the student the opportunity to examine an issue from opposing viewpoints as well as giving him an opportunity to defend his choices.

A teacher or an administrator who resorts to imposing his personal views on a student and a parent is violating the code of ethics of the National Education Association, which states “the educator, believing in the worth and dignity of each human being, recognizes the supreme importance of the pursuit of truth, devotion to excellence and the nurture of democratic principles.”

I urge Mr. Krahn to review this code before again disrespecting a student and his mother in such an autocratic manner.

June Dempsey

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First Amendment doesn’t apply to private schools

The Nov. 26 article about La Jolla Country Day School included a quotation [by Head of School Gary Krahn] implying that the First Amendment restrains a private school from regulating the content of speech of its students. That is not correct. The First Amendment only dictates to government.

The actual text says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech … .” Through Supreme Court interpretation, that text has been judged to apply beyond its literal meaning to include state and local governments in addition to Congress. That judicial interpretation does not extend to private schools; they retain legal freedom to abridge speech in school as desired by the private authority for a school.

A private school may choose to provide a privilege of free speech to students, but that privilege would flow from the choice of the authority of the school and would not be a right under the Constitution of the United States.

It would be a violation of freedom of association to apply to a private school the First Amendment restraints that apply to government.

John A. Berol

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Memories of Red Rest cottage live on

The memories, still vivid after 75 years, are brought back to me by the La Jolla Light articles about the destruction by fire of the Red Rest cottage at The Cove.

It was 1945. My high school buddy David Hough lived in the Red Rest cottage and his room had a view of The Cove across the street. When we saw a large winter swell developing, we would run across the street, down the stairs and into the 58-degree water just as the swell arrived. Catch a big one and you could ride it past the reef and to the shore at the foot of the stairs.

We loved to bodysurf at The Cove. Now my buddy David is gone. The Red Rest cottage is gone. Still, my memories linger on.

Kenneth Haygood

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What’s on YOUR mind?

Letters published in the La Jolla Light express views from readers about community matters. Submissions of related photos also are welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher. Letters are subject to editing for brevity, clarity and accuracy. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your first and last names and city or neighborhood of residence to Letters without the writer’s name cannot be published. Letters from the same person are limited to one in a three-month period. ◆