Several issues are at play following the University of Kansas’ removal of an altered American flag that was part of a national art project.
First and foremost, we have another round of American flag defense. The artwork at issue featured Old Glory with black paint smeared across it that is supposed to look vaguely like the United States. There is a cleared space down the middle of this splotch to represent a divided nation. There’s also a black-and-white-striped sock in the corner.
“The black and white sock on my flag takes on a new symbolic meaning in light of the recent imprisonment of immigrant children at the border,” the flag’s creator, Josephine Meckseper, said of her art.
The flag is part of a revolving exhibit titled “Pledges of Allegiance,” a project of the New York-based nonprofit Creative Time. There are 16 different flags in the series, many of them with Leftist messages. There’s a flag that says “Resist,” and another that says “A horror movie called western civilization.” There’s even another one featuring the American flag as a backdrop with a black bar down the middle to represent a divided nation (Did anyone else just get déjà vu?). There’s also a flag commenting on the surveillance state that features a weeping angel, for all you Doctor Who fans.
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, a Republican, demanded the school remove the flag.
“The disrespectful display of a desecrated American flag on the KU campus is absolutely unacceptable,” the governor said in a statement. “Men and women have fought and died for that flag and to use it in this manner is beyond disrespectful. I spoke to leadership to demand that it be taken down immediately.”
Kansas’ Secretary of State followed suit. In this case, we have the Right demanding art containing the image of the American flag be censored. Previously (early last year), it was the Left demanding removal of the American flag – the actual flag – because they were upset that President Donald Trump had won the election.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which defends the First Amendment on college campuses, implored KU not to remove the flag.
“The First Amendment doesn’t exist to protect politically popular speech,” wrote FIRE VP Peter Bonilla. “It exists to protect the speech likeliest to stir controversy, and it is a crucial check against the power of the state to silence dissenting voices.”
FIRE just released a report about art censorship on college campuses, but most of its examples included Leftsists demanding Leftist artwork be removed because of a misunderstood message. Here we have a division between those who want respect for the American flag and those who want to use the flag to send a message. It’s almost like there’s a divided nation (déjà vu again?).