Banning the flag: Diverse or disgrace?

Lauren C.

Staff Writer

In early March, the student council at the University of California-Irvine made a shocking mandate sparking national furor and debates. The decision? They voted to ban the American flag, as well as flags of other nations, in the student government lobby. While all flags were banned, most shocking is the decision to rid the lobby of the American flag, a symbol of pride and freedom displayed throughout the nation. How, and why, would anybody want to get rid of the flag? The students cited 25 different reasons for the ban, including the negative connotation of the flag as a symbol of imperialism, along with the nationalistic sentiments it may bring about in the diverse student body.

Immediately, the decision generated outrage from concerned, patriotic individuals not only from the university, but from around the country and the world as well. The story made national headlines in publications such as The Huffington Post and The LA Times. The president of UC-Irvine’s student body, Reza Zomorrodian, publically stated, “I stand firmly against this piece of legislation. Though I understand the author’s intent and supporters’ intent, I disagree with the solution the council has come to. I speak for myself about my feelings on this piece of legislation.” A great majority of students on campus at UC-Irvine disagreed with the legislation as well, as to prove that this sentiment of intimidation by the flag is felt by very few, and not nearly all of the students at UC-Irvine. Almost immediately, the action of the flag removal was vetoed by the student council president, who was not part of the council. This should have swiftly ended the controversy, but has it?

Even weeks after the incident was resolved, UC-Irvine is still a common topic of conversation as opinions vary on whether the legislation was right or not, aLC 2nd why. Woodstock senior Luke Mixon definitely feels strongly that it is wrong, citing that “the US flag is a symbol of our country and everything that we have accomplished, good or bad. To deny the flag is to deny patriotism.” History teacher Dr. Derek Engram agreed, referencing “all the country has worked towards” as a reason for patriotism. With patriotism being a key component in the success of a country, it is shocking to see any body of legislature attempt to diminish such pride. While the flag may bring about anger or dismay from minority groups who have seen this symbol as an aggressor, such individuals are not required to pledge to it, look at it, or even be in the United States in the first place. The flag is not a forced symbol in this country, but rather one that is openly supported by the people as a symbol of American pride.

On a college campus especially, it is proper to honor the country that allows such an education system that can provide opportunities not just for Americans, but for students from all over the world as well. The six students who voted for the legislation to remove the flags all came from countries outside the US, while the four who voted against it were Americans. One would be hard-pressed to find many Americans who would like to ban the American flag from a public place. “I can understand why minorities may be intimidated by the American majority,” says junior Brennan Heyer, “but that is no reason to ban the flag.” Imagine if Americans went to other countries and sought to ban their flags, just so they are not uncomfortable being the minority. Minorities will generally be uncomfortable in a foreign place, but the solution is not a flag ban. Adjust. Acclimate. Assimilate to the culture of the new nation, rather than try to erase it.

However, the flag and its symbolism does bring about the issue of diversity. Does the intimidation of the US flag and its consequent patriotism affect the nation’s diversity? Does the fear of being in the “minority” sway foreign immigrants from coming to the United States, despite the countless benefits and opportunities available? “You know you will be the minority when you go to another country,” says Spanish teacher and Puerto Rican native Ms. Diana Quillen, “but that is what you expect. You can still be proud to be in a country where you have the opportunity to succeed.” To expect a country to change its traditions and lower its self-pride to accommodate others is absurd. All races are offered the same opportunities in this country, whether it be in schools and or in the political system. Furthermore, it allows them to compete for and acquire the same jobs as American-born citizens. The American flag is not something forced upon immigrants and visitors, but rather it is a symbol most have come to accept and appreciate as a sign of freedom and promise of a better life. When the flag is taken away, the principles behind it are taken away as well. As of now the flag is reinstated at UC-Irvine.

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