This past week one of our state universities - UC Irvine - made the news. The initial reports told how the student government had voted to remove the American flag and other flags from the campus. The attempt to remove the flag was seen by the student government as a way of encouraging cultural inclusion. The blurb was fairly vague, and after reading it I was still not really sure of why and how this was happening. And even though I'm far from being an "America can do no wrong" patriot, I was perplexed by the decision to remove the flag. The flag is flown at all public institutions including schools that are funded by the government. It's a law! A student government vote couldn't change that, could it?!?!
Clicking beyond my homepage's newsfeed, what had actually happened became a little clearer. In fact, the students legislative body voted to pass a resolution (written by one student) to remove the flags from their student government offices, not from the campus. The resolution stated that the flag, having been flown on occasion as an act of imperialism, was not a sign of welcome to all students, and that removing it from their offices would be a symbol of becoming more inclusive of the student body. Executive Cabinet still had to approve it, which they reportedly had no intention of doing.
This all took place on Friday. By Saturday the story had spread across the country, and that's when the sh*! hit the fan. The "news" outlets reported the story and posted it on their websites and social media...and cue the vile and hateful response. Threats were and are being made to the University and the students involved in voting for the resolution, angry protests have been staged, and the comment sections on the stories are filled with all sorts of outrage. And as I digest it all, it frustrates me. Whether one agrees with their proposed resolution or not (and for the record this bleeding heart liberal didn't agree with the proposed resolution), the students' actions (free speech, voting on an issue, wanting to embrace all ethnicities) are the very actions the US flag is supposed to symbolize. Threatening violence towards a group of students who are questioning the system (college students are supposed to do that) is disgusting.
And now, the state of California's legislative powers are proposing a constitutional amendment that will put a ban on banning the flag at public school. Hmmmm, if I remember correctly, there's already a federal law requiring it to be flown at public schools, so adding this amendment will be putting our tax dollars to great (read redundant) use!
This country's biggest downfall is that we are reactive rather than proactive. It so often seems we have blinders on to the overarching issues that are broken and/or outdated while focusing on small, knee jerk reactions. I find it appalling that this is what outrages folks. Where is the outrage over our mental health care (or lack thereof) in this country? Where is the outrage over the reported yet not prosecuted violent crimes against women on college campuses? Where is the outrage over hundreds of school teachers who were laid off this week due to budget cuts? Where is the outrage over equal pay for equal work? Flying a flag or not flying a flag has no bearing on the success or failure as a country. The flag is a symbol of that success - whatever we make that out to be.
This flag ban at UC Irvine should have been a non-issue. It was going to resolve itself. Turning it into one took valuable time and effort away from many other more pressing matters. Which is unfortunate.
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