Sadly, the disgusting disrespect of the American flag on 9/11 isn’t just confined to the NFL, it’s happening on college campuses, as well.
Yesterday, after planting 2,997 small American flags in the quad to honor all the victims of 9/11, Occidental College Republicans came back to find every single flag had been torn from the ground, many broken and in the garbage. They pledged themselves to repeatedly putting the display back up, no matter how often it is taken down.
According to the Occidental College Republican Club Facebook page:
Today is meant to be a day of respect and remembrance for all the victims and heroes of 9/11. Last night, our club sponsored a memorial for the 2,997 who died exactly 15 years ago. Students of all backgrounds came out and planted 2,997 American flags in our quad here at Occidental.
At midnight early this morning, vandals crushed, snapped, and threw in the garbage every single flag. Not one was left in the ground. Not only did they destroy the memorial, they put posters and flyers up that shamed the victims of 9/11.
Most of Occidental was asleep at 1 A.M. but not fifteen of us. Students rallied together to get those flags out of the garbage and up in the quad. This is beyond politics, this is about those lives that were so tragically taken.
Later that morning, a few of us stood guard at the memorial. Four Occidental students came up and snapped a few flags right in our faces. When we confronted them, those cowards got away as fast as they possibly could.
We had thought the storm had passed, however, we were very wrong. This morning, students woke up to another lazy attempt at vandalism. Hundreds of flags kicked and smashed, and fifty or so back in the trash. Of course, we put them back in the ground.
We ask that all students respect the memorial for the remainder of its time in the quad. If you try to destroy it, we will rebuild it.
“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.”
-President George W. Bush, 9/11/2001
The Coalition at Oxy (Occidental) for Diversity and Equity (CODE) posted the following disgusting diatribe on Facebook soon after and replied, “CODE supports the students that carried out this action,” when asked in the comments if they were responsible for vandalizing the display. I took the liberty of highlighting the most ridiculous and appalling parts of their statement below.
To Whom It May Concern,
We are writing to you regarding the distress many students experienced when walking through the quad on September 10th around 5:00 PM. On a campus that proclaims itself time and again to be diverse, equitable and safe for all of its students, the display of American flags covering the entire Academic Quad disproved that proclamation. When we became aware of the purpose of this display, to memorialize 9/11, we were concerned by the complete disregard for the various peoples affected by this history.
As students of color, this symbol of the American flag is particularly triggering for many different reasons. For us, this flag is a symbol of institutionalized violence (genocide, rape, slavery, colonialism, etc.) against people of color, domestically as well as globally. Additionally, if the goal of the memorial is to commemorate the lives lost during 9/11, the singular nature of the American flag fails to account for the diversity of lives lost on that day.
Historically, the American flag and subsequent American nationalist symbols, have been polarizing and marginalizing to people of color living within the United States. This has been most recently exemplified in Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the American national anthem.
When this institution allows thousands of American flags to be placed in the center of campus it speaks volumes to the students that have lived their lives under the oppression of this flag. From Native students whose land was stolen to undocumented students who live in fear of deportation to Black students who see their communities destroyed by state sanctioned murder, this school is saying your fear and trauma do not matter here.
In addition, many students were confused and inquiring about what the purpose of the flags in the Academic quad was. This indicated to us that the message of “commemoration” was lost and absent in the use of the flags. This is not to say that the American flag is inherently comparable to the violence that has occurred under its silhouette, but to state that it is an ineffective memorial for what has happened to the people of the world in the past fifteen years. This is not a critique of desiring to remember the fallen, this is a critique of failing to comprehend who, or what, has been lost. To this end, we wanted to provide more information and more context in order to center the actual lives and individuals affected by 9/11 rather than a simply placing a symbol of one nation.
In an effort to broaden the memorial, signs and a poem (attached below) were posted throughout the quad to more deeply remember the events that occurred on 9/11 as well as the lives that were lost within and outside of the United states as a result of those attacks. The main sign reads, “R.I.P the 2,996 Americans who died in 9/11. R.I.P the 1,455,590 innocent Iraqis who died during the U.S. invasion for something they didn’t do.” This sign puts into context that more than just Americans died on September 11th. Additionally, we placed tweets from these articles,
to highlight the experiences of Muslim Americans whose lives have been severely changed for the worst in the aftermath of 9/11. It is extremely important to note that Eid al-Adha begins on September 11 this year. By placing these flags on this day shows a complete lack of thought, care or understanding of the students that are still living with the rising Islamophobia in the aftermath of 9/11.
We sign this in solidarity with each student on this campus, each member of the United States community and those in the global community that have experienced oppression under the guise of American patriotism.
Raihana Haynes-Venerable ‘17, Olivia Davis ‘17, Frances Delfin ’17, Raven Campbell ‘17, Renee Juno Hedrick ‘18, Antonio Romero ‘19, Flynn Aldrich ‘18, Nathalie Brick ‘18, Devon DeRaad ‘17, Haarika R. Reddy ‘17, Amanda Rissberger ‘18, Peter Kukla ‘18, Anna Palmer ‘19, Alexis Morse ‘18, Valentina Dabos ‘18, Ginny Wyatt ‘19, Jackson Goode ‘18, Hallaamal Keir ‘19, Clark Leazier ‘18, Riley Gilmartin ‘18,
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The special snowflakes who are “distressed” and “triggered” at seeing American flags and therefore think it’s ok to vandalize them on 9/11 are the lowest of scum. I can’t believe this needs to be said, but 9/11 was an attack ON AMERICA. The fact that people from all over the world were killed on that day does not change that.
If this group was so concerned (spoiler: they’re not, they only care about spreading their anti-America message), they should have worked with the College Republicans to incorporate flags representing the other nationalities of people killed instead of tearing down, or endorsing the tear down, of the American flags.
If they blame 9/11 on the deaths of Iraqis in the Iraq War or other “oppression,” then blame the perpetrators of 9/11, the Islamic terrorist group Al-Qaeda. They can also do their own display, as anti-war groups have done many times over the years.
The proper response to free speech you don’t like is more free speech. But such freedom is an American value – funny how they take advantage of our freedoms to attack and try to pervert them.
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