A professor of engineering and policy at the University of Southern California is refusing to remove a pro-police flag from his office door despite protests from students.
USC professor James Moore has had the flag, an American flag with a “thin blue line,” on his door since the beginning of the fall semester — but he has recently come under fire for it. Moore told The College Fix in an interview that he first received a complaint from a university administrator who called him and suggested that he take the flag down. Then, last week, an article in the university’s campus newspaper, the Daily Trojan, labeled the display a “controversy,” quoting several students who called the flag “inappropriate” and demanded the flag be taken down.
“This is an inappropriate and unnecessary symbol to have on an office door where USC is, within the last year or two, trying to have a much broader diversity initiative and to be inclusive, especially in the STEM area,” one USC graduate student told the school newspaper. The student also said that after he first saw the flag in October, he voiced his concerns to the Dean of USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering and Office of Equity and Diversity.
“I want them to take it down, and I want them to do something about Professor Moore because this is not the first controversial thing he’s done,” said another.
The students went on to accuse Moore of trolling, citing an instance in 2018 where he responded to a campus event called “Coffee and Title IX,” reminding students: “If the day comes you are accused of some crime or tort of which you are not guilty, and you find your peers automatically believing your accuser, I expect you find yourself a stronger proponent of due process protections than you are now. Accusers sometimes lie.”
Moore told The College Fix he was not trolling and defended himself from the criticism. “It’s important,” Moore said. “Blue lives protect black lives, and black lives are not at risk from the police — they are at risk from crime — and it’s blue lives that stand between them and crime.”
Moore listed three reasons for hanging the flag outside his office door: First, to dispute the idea that police are the biggest statistical threat to black people; second, to honor a police detective family member who recently retired; and third, to raise awareness that the murder rate in the United States has spiked 30% in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the rise of the “defund the police” movement.
In a statement to the Daily Trojan, USC said it did not have a policy prohibiting the flag and stated its commitment to academic freedom. “The university does not have a policy that limits the display of materials in spaces like this, though we are looking at whether it is needed,” the university said. “As part of the university’s commitment to academic freedom, a faculty member can express his or her individual beliefs and viewpoints on a wide variety of topics – even controversial issues – but they do not speak on behalf of a school or the broader university.”
“We are in an environment where there is a lot of homogenization of ideas, and diversity should include diversity of ideas,” Moore said. “This [USC] is supposed to be a safe space for diversity of thought. We are charging people very good money to teach them to think. I am just trying to deliver.”