READY: In defense of the grand ol’ flag

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

It’s no longer politically correct to be patriotic. After all, someone’s feelings may get hurt if we sing “God Bless America” or display the red, white, and blue.

A recent news item from Irvine, Calif., makes that sad fact abundantly clear.

A group of university professors signed a letter demonstrating their solidarity with students who voted to ban the American flag at the University of California, Irvine — because they said Old Glory contributes to racism.

The six students, Matthew Guevera, Khaalidah Sidney, Naty Rico, John Salazar, Matthew Tsai, and Negar Fatahi, in their capacity as student government leaders, decreed — with no input or vote from the student body — to remove all flags, including the American flag, from public areas of the campus. On March 3, the student government association ruled 6-4-2 to remove the United States flag from a campus lobby “for the sake of cultural inclusivity.”

 The shameless six merely wanted the flag removed from “inclusive” spaces like lobbies and common zones. Their nutty professors, however, say our flag doesn’t belong anywhere on any campus across the nation — because it’s a sign of racist hate.

In their opinion: “U.S. nationalism often contributes to racism and xenophobia, and the paraphernalia of nationalism is in fact often used to intimidate.”

 Even more disheartening, hundreds of like-minded professors and students across the nation have signed the letter, at least according to a report by Irvine’s Campus Reform group.

It’s true, college kids can border on the moronic in their political activism. In my sophomore year, I lay across a railroad track in Pensacola with some other idiots to protest President Johnson’s visit to the Panhandle. We were protesting the step-up of bombing in Vietnam. Police dragged us off just before his train came down the tracks.

As a slightly wiser adult, I cringe when I think of that day, especially since my own father was serving our country in the jungles of Cambodia at the time.

But to have professors, supposedly older and wiser, support this lunacy is hard for me to understand. How can they sleep at night knowing their salaries are paid for by a bunch of “xenophobic racists” for whom they have no tolerance?

One reporter on the story, interviewed a student who said the student government association especially feared the American flag might hurt the feelings of other students who were illegal aliens. “There were people who were like, ‘the flag triggers me’ — that was their exact wording, too,” the student said.

But in the good news part of all this, the executive leadership of student government met and vetoed the ban. By the next week, the flag was returned to the campus lobby.

“Our campus is patriotic and proud,” student government President Reza Zomorrodian stated. “We did something right for our campus.”

An attempt to discuss the controversy in a calm and respectful environment didn’t go well. In fact, a March 10th meeting was canceled after the university received a “viable threat of violence.” In other words, if proponents persist in displaying the American flag, those who don’t want to hurt the feelings of illegal aliens or the culturally different will bring violence to bear on anyone who disagrees with them.

Is there some irony there?

I don’t sport a bumper sticker reading, “My Country. Love it or leave it.” And I’m fully aware there is corruption, scandal, and big corporate interference in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government. I know my homeland isn’t a perfect nation, and I took off my rosy-colored glasses a long time ago.

But an American flag flies outside my home on every national occasion. I get weepy at the singing of our national anthem. And once upon a time, when I taught school, my students and I pledged allegiance to the flag every morning. However, towards the end of my career, I remember a student, dressed in his ROTC uniform, refusing to salute the flag because he claimed we were a “war-mongering” country.

Again, some irony?

My father’s grave is decorated with red, white, and blue flowers and a flag. As a veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, he’d expect that.

Over the years, we’ve lost too many once-cherished freedoms. To lose the very symbols of our national heritage will be the final loss for me.

For, as it has been said so poignantly, “The whole inspiration of our life as a nation flows out from the waving folds of this banner.”

If I’ve hurt the feelings of some readers, my apology is simply this:  “God Bless America.”

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.