America: A 4-Letter Word

My latest column is up at AND Magazine.

Here is an excerpt:

A couple of weeks ago, the student government at the University of California, Irvine voted to ban the display of the American flag – and the flag of any other nation – in the lobby of the Associate Student main lobby, which they refer to as an “inclusive space.”

While the measure¬†ultimately applied to all flags, great pains were taken to single out the American flag as a symbol of “colonialism and imperialism,” which they apparently felt would mar the space’s “inclusivity.”

The resolution was inherently ridiculous and self-contradictory, and in many ways represents a mindset that is becoming all too common in modern America: if someone, somewhere, might at some time find something to be insensitive or offensive, then that thing, in all of its forms, must be banned. The measure even, towards the end, refers to Freedom of Speech as “a valued right,” but then in the next statement says that “Whereas freedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible can be interpreted as hate speech, Let it be resolved that ASUCI make every effort to make the Associated Students main lobby space as inclusive as possible.” In other words, freedom of speech is a valued right, but it will not exist in the Associated Students main lobby space at UC Irvine.

After the resolution was passed, it didn’t take long for it to gain national attention, and in the face of overwhelming public outcry, the student government’s executive cabinet met and vetoed the measure.

While the resolution went on at length about the symbolism of flags and how different people will have differing interpretations of that symbolism, the resolution itself is a symbol of how our education system is failing our nation. After all, America didn’t start a system of government-funded compulsory schooling solely to teach children how to read, write, and do math (which themselves are done too poorly at too many American schools), but schools were also to teach children how to be good citizens. There is an element of ideological indoctrination in any government-run school system, and it seems that all too often these days, the ideology pushed in our schools is meant to benefit the government itself, and not the people that government is supposed to be of, by, and for.

Continue reading here.

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