Hundreds of flag toting American citizens went to Hampshire College in Amherst Massachusetts yesterday to protest the school’s decision to stop flying the stars and stripes from the flag pole on campus, which had been twice vandalized in the wake of the election. Though the protesters were at least 95% white, they were a politically diverse bunch in that there were plenty of folks who voted for all four of the major candidates for president on November 8th. Their shared outrage at Hampshire College’s decision about what will wave from the flag pole at this small private liberal arts college was understandable enough at a gut level, but at this particular time in America’s life it is also ABSOLUTELY NUTS!!!!
I have two very serious problems with this large and well attended protest. First, if the point was to stand up for the ideals represented by our nation’s flag, then the protesters failed miserably by allowing folks expressing anti-American, hateful, ignorance to join their ranks. If you are standing with a person holding a sign that reads “America Love It or Leave It,” YOU ARE NOT STANDING UP FOR THE IDEALS REPRESENTED BY THE AMERICAN FLAG!!!This is not a quibble. If you don’t understand why such a sign (especially when hoisted in tandem with our flag) is more offensive than any flag burning or decision not to fly the flag ever could be, then you desperately need a remedial lesson in American history. The president of Hampshire College explained that the flag was removed because “students felt it was a symbol of the mistreatment of marginalized groups in the U.S.” Nearly a thousand angry white folks surrounding the campus waving flags and hateful signs isn’t much of a rebuttal to the logic of the College’s decision.
Second, the absurdity of making a national political issue out of a decision regarding a flag on a private college campus was particularly blaring yesterday. As these folks clumsily expressed their righteous indignation the man many of them just supported to be America’s Commander-in-Chief was tweeting one of the most moronic and not-so-subtle bigoted claims ever made by an American president-elect.In case you missed it, Donald Trump took to twitter to claim that he actually would have won the popular vote if millions hadn’t voted illegally. The most ignorant and dishonest man in America has just been elected President of the United States and nearly a thousand Americans decided that they should surround a small private college campus and condemn its leaders for disrespecting the flag. The fact that they allowed some in their number expressing hateful, anti-American sentiments like “love it or leave it” to go unchallenged makes the whole thing seem like an episode of the Twilight Zone.
The values represented by America’s flag are indeed under assault today like never before, but the enemy is most definitely not liberal college kids trying to express their own moral outrage. On January 20th the forces of bigotry and know-nothingism will take control of the federal government. If you are outraged about left wing college kids acting like left wing college kids I must respectfully inform you that you are either a fool or in deep denial about the state of our union. Hampshire College administrators wanted to facilitate a debate about what our country is going through presently. While I might have chosen to do it differently, no one can argue that their chosen method failed to garner sufficient attention. Now, let’s see who shows up for the real work and real patriotism of engaging in the thoughtful debate.