Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Hampshire College Removes U.S. Flag as Offensive

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After the tragic shooting in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, perpetrated by a young man who was shown on social media with the Confederate “battle flag,” there was a national uproar to remove that flag’s presence from all public buildings in the state, and eventually across the nation. In South Carolina, Governor Nikki Haley quickly led an effort to take the flag down from the Capitol grounds.

Some even advocated digging up Confederate heroes out of public parks.

As other “Confederate” symbols came under assault, many warned that elimination of all Confederate heritage symbols was not the ultimate goal of those calling for their removal, predicting that the U.S. flag and other American symbols of national pride would soon be under attack.

Since then, some have even called for the removal of the statue of Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square in New Orleans. Jackson, of course, was the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, in which he led a rag-tag American army to victory over British Redcoats, who were fresh from defeating Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo. The blunt truth is, had it not been for Andrew Jackson, there would probably not even be an American city of New Orleans, where his statue is now located.

And, of course, professional football player Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers led football players across the National Football League to protest against alleged police mistreatment of African Americans by refusing to stand for the National Anthem. Fortunately, very few other players have joined him in his disrespect of the "Star-spangled Banner," but some have even resorted to calling the National Anthem itself racist and offensive.

Now, as predicted by many who could see where this was all headed, a college in Amherst, Massachusetts (Hampshire College) has even removed the American flag as offensive.

Apparently, some students at the liberal arts college were upset at the results of the presidential election, in which Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, and just a few days — on the morning of Veteran’s Day —  after Trump’s victory, someone burned a flag that was flying at the college.

The school’s initial response was typical of liberal efforts at appeasement and compromise. They put another flag up, but lowered it to half-staff, in support of those who feared the election of Trump. The liberal school leaders meekly explained that they wanted to both “acknowledge the grief and pain experienced by so many and to enable the full complexity of voices and experiences to be heard.”

This action precipitated an adverse reaction from those who view the flag as the symbol of what is great about America.

In response, school leaders just took the flag down — at least until next semester. In a typical liberal response to radical agitation, school administrators expressed hope that this would cause a “direct, open, and respectful conversation.”

Jonathan Lash, president of Hampshire College, said, “By removing the flag, the college will seek to focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.” (Of course, evangelical Christians experience their worldview being challenged, ridiculed, and dismissed in academia on a daily basis across America, but that is considered enlightened).

Despite his rhetoric, President Lash denied that the lowering of the flag to half-staff had anything to do with Trump’s victory. “Some have perceived the action of lowering the flag as a commentary on the results of the presidential election — this, unequivocally, was not our intent.”

This statement seems somewhat dishonest, considering that college leaders themselves wrote a message to the community shortly after the election, saying, “On campus we have seen numerous expressions of pain, fear, anger, and vulnerability — understandable given news reports from across the country about acts of hostility and violence against people of color, immigrants, international citizens, and Muslims.”

One student was even quoted as saying the flag burning and eventual removal was, indeed, about the results of the election. “If our president is Donald Trump, I don’t think any school, especially this school, should really support his ideas by raising the flag.”

This type of thinking — that respect for the flag should revolve around the results of a presidential election — is not new, and it is not contained just on liberal college campuses. For example, First Lady Michelle Obama said shortly after the 2008 election, after her husband won the presidency, that it was the “first time” in her adult life that she was “proud” of her country.

The truth is that most Americans are proud of their country, regardless who wins an election, because they consider their country greater than any specific political party or candidate. Most Americans do not look at the flag, or hear the National Anthem, through the prism of partisan politics.

In his inauguration, following the very divisive presidential campaign of 1800, when Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams, the new president enunciated this principle very clearly. “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists, we are all Americans,” Jefferson assured the country, in an effort to calm the fears of his political opponents as to what he might do with the power of the government now in his hands. Supporters of Jefferson were enraged at the Sedition Acts, which had been used by the Adams administration to jail Jefferson’s Republican supporters for their negative statements about President Adams and other leading Federalists (in violation of the First Amendment). Federalists, on the other hand, feared that Jefferson was poised to usher in the radicalism seen so recently in the bloody French Revolution, which Jefferson had so foolishly supported, at least initially.

Despite their intense differences, neither the Federalists nor the Republicans called for attacking or burning the American flag. They might say nasty things about each other, but both sides loved their country. In a stark contrast, some in the country today are demonstrating the rank hypocrisy of their insincere pre-election comments, when they condemned candidate Donald Trump after he was reluctant to promise to accept the outcome of the election. Trump was concerned that the election could be stolen from him, and wanted to keep his options open.

Now, however, no one is arguing the election was stolen for Trump, but his opponents are clearly not accepting the outcome of an election that the New York businessman won, beyond doubt.

The ultimate goal of these radicals is the removal not of the American flag, but of the “republic for which it stands.”

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