Friday, March 13, 2015
The Backlash Against the Backlash for University of California Irvine Students Banning the American Flag
The University of California Irvine Anteaters have gone viral for a vote to ban the American flag. An American Flag was hung in the student government lobby after a party. It was taken down, rehung, taken down, rehung. The student council voted 6-4 to ban the American Flag, indeed all flags, from the council’s lobby. The American Flag ban quickly spread throughout America. The response was one of hostility to the 6 students and inferentially UCI. Khaalidah Sidney was the co-author of the ban. She wrote an op-ed in the student newspaper, the New University, explaining “the vote was in favor of an ideologically free, inclusive and safe place.” She further explained that some classmates, “dreamers,’” saw the Flag “triggering to students who are undocumented and to whom the flag represents a constant struggle to gain American citizenship, being a triggering symbol of U.S. imperialism and neo-colonialism and also as increasingly disrespectful to the increasing international student population.” Makes you wonder if Ward Churchill and Steve Salaita are teaching at UCI. UCI is an outstanding university, only 50 years old. It has unfortunately acquired a reputation in recent years of tolerating anti-Semitism on the campus. Anti-Americanism combined with anti-Semitism is not the image the University wishes to publicly project. UCI’s Chancellor Howard Gilman declared the students’ action was “outrageous and indefensible that they would question the appropriateness of displaying the American Flag on this great campus.” Even UCI students were aghast at the flag ban. The national backlash against the 6 aye voters can be described as vehement, caustic and unpleasantly sharp, to paraphrase the famous First Amendment case of New York Times v. Sullivan. The Flag is the symbol of America. The genius of America is that we are not united by religion or ethnicity, but by a common core of beliefs. The American Flag is the visible symbol that unifies us. The flag raising at Iwo Jima is one of the iconic images of World war II. Our National Anthem is based on The Flag surviving the British bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. We are Americans, citizens of the United States of America, named after an Italian explorer Amerigo (Americus) Vespucci. The Executive Cabinet subsequently voted 4-1 to overturn the flag veto. The full student council was scheduled to vote last Tuesday on the flag issue, but the University cancelled the meeting because of credible threats. Three of the students who voted to ban the flag reassessed their vote. They stated they would not vote to overturn the Executive Cabinet vote: “We meant no ill will towards our nation nor its Flag, and our school does not deserve the image placed on it in the public sphere.” Then came the backlash to the backlash. 1200, including 60 professors, signed a petition of solidarity with the Irvine 6. The petition stated: “We admire the courage of the resolution’s supporters amid this environment of political immaturity and threat, and support them unequivocally.” It continued though: “ The University ought to respect their political position and meet its obligation to promote and protect their safety. The resolution recognized that nationalism, including U.S. nationalism, often leads to racism and xenophobia.” It also linked UCI to Fox News, which it claimed to be “a notoriously inaccurate media source associated with racism, xenophobia and U.S. nationalism.” Such is the reasoning of much of the modern American professoriate.