By Staff at The Grand Island Independent
The American flag means so much to so many. It’s a symbol of freedom that represents the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, the right to bear arms and many other freedoms that Americans enjoy.
The flag also symbolizes what so many brave men and women have fought for over the centuries, with many giving their lives for their country and the cause of freedom.
That’s why it was troubling to so many when the news came that student government representatives at the University of California, Irvine voted to ban all flags, including the American one. The ban was a way to settle a student dispute. Some students had objected to the flag as a symbol of colonialism and imperialism.
The ban was definitely wrong-headed. In the United States, the American flag should be able to fly proudly or be displayed anywhere.
However, the furor over the ban was also overblown. The executive cabinet of the Associated Students organization vetoed the ban two days later. University administrators spoke out against it, saying it didn’t represent the views of the university or its students. Several of the small group of students — 6 — who voted for the ban later said they regretted doing so.
The ban was a bad decision that was corrected fairly quickly. However, not quick enough to keep it from sparking a firestorm.
In California, a state senator started to push for a constitutional amendment to prohibit state universities and colleges from banning the U.S. flag. People protested against the ban on the campus; angry comments flew on social media sites; and unfortunately, threats were made against student representatives, causing several meetings to be canceled.
UC Irvine is a campus of 30,000 students in a suburb south of Los Angeles. About 14 percent of the students are from other countries, creating an especially diverse campus setting.
However, political correctness and not seeking to offend anyone can be taken too far, and that appears to be what happened. While the U.S. flag may mean different things to people from other countries, institutions shouldn’t have to bow to those sensitivities.
This is the United States, after all, and Americans are rightly proud of their country and the freedom that it has advanced throughout the world through two world wars and many other conflicts over the years. Americans take pride in seeing their flag flying.
Most observers don’t expect flag bans to become any kind of movement across college campuses. Even so, Peter Bonilla of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education told the Los Angeles Times that there has been an increase in student attempts to restrain free speech and assert a “right not to be offended.”
Those attempts go against the free speech and open discussion that should take place on college campuses.
It was good to see other students and administrators step up and overturn this foolish flag ban. The Stars and Stripes should fly proudly and freely anywhere in this country.
Schools: University of California, Irvine