By Professor Doom
I’m grateful to the founding fathers, and respect their achievement in creating a country, and greet with some concern the realization that the chances of this country’s disintegration within my lifetime have grown from “essentially impossible” to “unlikely” within the last twenty years.
That said, I’ve never been much of a flag-worshipper. I respect those that hold a piece of cloth with particular symbols on it as sacred but…to me the actual ideas and concepts the flag represents are sacred, the flag itself means little to me. I particularly don’t understand people who go nuts over others destroying an American flag: the ideals upon which this country was founded include destroying the flag as part of free speech.
Anyway, I respect people who use the flag to make a political statement…but that doesn’t mean I respect the political statement, and yes, sometimes, I think people are idiots for using the flag in an inappropriate way.
A recent idiocy I’ve seen, like so much idiocy, comes from higher education, more specifically tiny Hampshire College, in Massachusetts. I’m hard pressed to wrap my mind around it:
Hey, there are plenty of US actions that I can accept refusing the fly the flag for, to raise awareness. US torture camps, for example, strike me as profane enough to justify abusing the flag to attract attention. Illegal wars, zero interest rates from a central bank, the existence of welfare programs…lots of things, and primarily things that are in violation of what the founding fathers wanted for this country. What, pray tell, is the college using the flag to protest?
“A day after the presidential election, the Massachusetts college sided with students who lowered the flag to half-staff…”
Seriously? Flying the US flag at half-mast in protest for a peacefully resolved US election, as per the guidelines of the people that designed this country? This is as crazy as defacing Martin Luther King posters to protest the success of the civil rights movement.
The half-masting was a (spineless) concession to students who were heartbroken their candidate didn’t win. Hey, I’ve been disappointed in the outcome of quite a few elections…never occurred to me to ask another institution to protest on my behalf.
The student-as-customer paradigm has so warped our campuses. Instead of using the election as a teachable moment, the administration collapsed and just gave the students what they want, while ignoring the university mission of education.
That’s a big fat “strike one” for the university admin. Here comes another swing and a miss:
“And when someone lit the campus' US flag on fire November 10, many more pushed back after the college decided to do away with flying the American flag, at least temporarily.”
“Strike two,” big time. So, some clown decided to burn the flag. Once again, administration had a choice to either show some spine, or cave in. Hey, I don’t have a problem with some clown burning his own flag, but that flag was university property, and, moreover, that flag was being used to make a political statement.
A really, really, stupid and contradictory political statement, mind you…but the college has that right, even if the real statement is “we coddle our students and do not teach them.” If they really had a problem with the way how the US government does things, after all, they could make a real statement by refusing government back student loans. Yeah, right.
Once again, the institution had the opportunity to use something as a teachable moment, by peacefully and stubbornly buying another flag, and continuing to make their political statement. You know, kind of like Gandhi, except instead of being beaten, they’re just flying a flag at half-staff. Imagine if Gandhi had simply cowered away after the first blow, or if the first civil rights protestors had just shut up and gone home, to put this in perspective for where admin stands in terms of spine.
To be fair, after the flag was burned, the Poo Bah decided to fly the flag again, again in distress, but for a different reason:
Flying the flag at half-staff "was meant as an expression of grief over the violent deaths being suffered in this country and globally, including the many U.S. service members who have lost their lives," President Jonathan Lash said.
Lash regretted the college taking that action as it caused some "unintentional distress" over a traditional expression of mourning, school spokesman John Courtmanche told CNN.
On Monday, Lash announced in a Facebook statement that the college had decided on November 18 that no flags, US or otherwise, would fly over campus for the time being. But students can still fly their own flags.
To call this behavior idiocy is possibly inaccurate on my part. Is "confusion" a better word? This weird scramble to justify incoherent behavior is strike three, at the very least. I’m at a loss for words, but others are more clear in their opinions:
John Velis, an Army veteran and state representative, called on the college president to reinstate the US flag immediately.
"The president's position fundamentally does not make sense to me," Velis told CNN. "It is baseless, cowardly, a disgrace," he added.
While people are being outraged over this college’s inane behavior, the outrage is false, because they think the college is being unpatriotic and disrespectful of the flag. It might be a sincere outrage, but it’s still false.
The true outrage is our higher education system has been taken over by a mercenary cast of administrators, who make every decision in an attempt to appease students, who do everything they can to get more growth out of the institution, little realizing that they’re destroying their institutions by abandoning the purposes that made those institutions great.
The sacrifice of the flag and the ideals the flag represents, are mere collateral damage in the endless administrative war for more growth.