On Thursday, March 5, 2015, the Associated Students of University of California-Irvine passed a resolution to remove all flags, including the American flag, from a student government room on campus in a faux effort to be more “inclusive.” UC-Irvine student Matthew Guevara penned the anti-American resolution. Guevara posited that the American flag could be viewed as a symbol of hate. While America has a number of troubling phenomena in her past, and some residual problems in her present, an attempt to efface all symbols supposedly associated with the disquieting dimensions of our nation’s past evinces the fatuous thinking UC-Irvine’s student leadership employs. The American flag has always symbolized utopian ideals—even when many of the people who lived under it didn’t fully embraced those ideals. UC-Irvine’s student leadership should be honest and reveal that the vote banning the American flag isn’t about inclusivity at all; it’s a veiled maneuver to promulgate its anti-American sentiments.
Banning the American flag from this public space does nothing to ameliorate inclusivity at UC-Irvine. In fact, it does just the opposite.
Matthew Guevara’s lame explanation that since “the American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism,” its display “does not express only selective aspects of its symbolism but the entire spectrum of its interpretation” leads the Associated Students of University of California-Irvine down a murky road and slippery slope. Does this mean the next resolution Mr. Guevara or another member of the student government will author is a resolution forbidding white people from being able to use this space, considering white people could be viewed as vestiges of America’s racist and discriminatory past? This is the type of mindless conflation of what the American flag symbolizes with inclusivity in postmodern public space forces us to confront.
At every university I have attended, I have been a passionate advocate for student rights and for students being seriously included in the notion of shared governance. I love how students at my current institution, University of Wisconsin-Madison, have significant power. With considerable power, however, comes even greater responsibility. Unfortunately, the unpatriotic UC-Irvine student government has abused its power and exposed its immaturity.
I urge UC-Irvine’s student leadership to correct their wrongs by rescinding this foolish resolution. American men and women in uniform have fought and are fighting under the banner of what the American flag represents every day. Our military men and women who have lost their lives fighting for our liberty have been draped with the American flag. Above all, the American flag symbolizes everything that unites us as a nation.
I encourage the Associated Students of University of California-Irvine to awake from their stupor and be grateful for the precious human treasure that has been sacrificed and lost defending the honor of the American flag and the freedom of America and her denizens.
Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison