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A Conservative Student’s Thoughts On The Flag Burning at Hampshire College

There has been a lack of coverage regarding Hampshire College students who oppose the desecration and removal of the flag.

Allow me to the introduce myself: I am a Hampshire College student. I wish to remain anonymous, as have my peers who burned the flag.

Due to recent events at Hampshire College and the subsequent press coverage, I believe it is vital to speak out against the attacks that happened. I wish to remain anonymous because there is a bully culture at Hampshire College. Fit the liberal narrative or face condemnation and excommunication from your peers. I have taken a long time weighing the benefits of practicing my own right to the 1st amendment against paying the price of dissent from my peers, which is frightening.

It is interesting how President Lash seems adamant in protecting the right to mourn and protest, but there appears to be a looming culture of a singular mindset on campus. A student is more than welcome to burn the symbol of liberty, but if a student feels upset at the disrespect of a symbol they see as sacred they must sit in the shadows or face a barrage of ad-hominem attacks. It seems that bigotry and intolerance of opposite opinions is actually exhibited by those who spew that accusation the most often.

President Lash, I implore you to understand the meaning of lowering the American flag to half-staff. The lowering of the American flag to half-staff has been reserved for times of remembrance of great American loss and sacrifice. Hampshire College first lowered the flag to half-staff not in solidarity for a lost American hero or an attack on our homeland but rather because a free election didn’t pan out in the favor of the Democratic party.

I want to believe that the obscene burning of the American flag is not indicative of the prevailing culture at Hampshire College. While liberal doctrine is predominant throughout campus and in lectures, I truly hope that the majority of students have immense respect for the symbol of the flag.

While the American public should be outraged at any desecration of the American Flag, this event is not unique to Hampshire. This crude gesture has been seen on liberal arts colleges nationwide and is not a problem unique to this school. Rather, the center of attention should be focused on the President of Hampshire’s College inability to thwart conflict and ease tensions at the school.

One way to view this situation is to acknowledge the fact that students that burned the flag were acting out—factors that contributed to this poor decision could include limited life experience and a belief there were few ways in which they could be heard. The handling of this situation should have been extremely straight-forward to any competent administration head: Chastise the culprits for committing property damage[1], provide alternative respectful ways to protest the elected candidate, and replace the flag. The president showed incompetence in his duties because he failed to consider the education of the students. By sheltering his students from the harsh realities of their actions and not allowing them to be confronted with an opposing view (that the flag that they burned represents real sacrifices people have made and are making right now) he was in stark derelict of duty. President Johnathan Lash chose to leave all common sense at the door and left the pole naked on a day commemorating the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made for our country.

On a day meant to represent how liberty has prevailed on the shoulders of our service members, President Lash decided he would let the radical minority win while simultaneously slapping the veterans community in the face. Old Glory would not be waving on this day of remembrance.

I have hoped that those that desecrated the flag have the potential to grow up from their mistakes and eventually understand the sacrifices that have been made to allow them to enjoy liberties such as the first amendment, but this hope has been quickly extinguished by actions from President Lash.

Not only are these students’ actions positively reinforced, but it is evident that after decades of experience and education our leadership does not have the moral integrity or wherewithal to stand up for the symbol of liberty.

The American flag stands for civil liberties and the equal freedoms that every American enjoys in our present day. It must not be misconstrued as a symbol of oppression, PERIOD. The United States was founded upon the revolutionary principle that “All men are created equal” and that there are basic human rights that every person has access to.

This ideology was a prototype of its time and revolutionized nation-states as we know them today. It is also unquestionably irrational to argue that the flag is “just a piece of cloth” that can therefore be burned without second thought. To put this into perspective, the American Flag is the only object given to an orphaned child or widowed spouse when a service member is killed in the line of duty abroad. There’s a reason for this. The purpose is to show the loved one that the ultimate sacrifice their father/mother/son/daughter made in the line of duty was not in vain but rather in devotion to the flag’s meaning: freedom, justice, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all men and women.

To conclude, it is because of this kind of behavior that we are seeing the immense frustration among veterans as demonstrated recently. The men and women that have served know what has been lost in order to give the students the liberties they enjoy today. And the one symbol, the one object they know they can unwaveringly look to that shows the whole purpose for their sacrifice was stripped from them on the most hallowed day in American culture.

[1] “Damage, destruction, or defacement of College or personal property of others (due either to malice or to extreme carelessness) is unacceptable behavior. Some of this behavior may also be consider vandalism, defined as willfully or maliciously destroying, disfiguring, and/or defacing any public or private property, without the consent of the owner or College.

Students will be assessed the cost of any vandalism or damage, and that cost will be charged to the student’s College account.” – Hampshire College Code of Conduct

A student who wishes to remain anonymous authored this article.

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