The former Stanford chapter of Sigma Chi fraternity learned this the hard way after its members refused to take down a three-by-five-foot display of Old Glory that once donned the front entryway of their campus abode – instead choosing to hang up an even larger one after an administrator with whom they were previously close advised them to quit it with all the patriotism.
As reported in Stanford's campus paper, Sigma Chi had previously been on probation when a Stanford faculty member, acting as a "liaison" to help the fraternity get back into good standing on campus, advised its members to take down its American flag as an act of solidarity with the school.
The implication, according to one Sigma Chi brother by the name of Pablo Lozano, was that Sigma Chi's American flag was perpetuating negative "stereotypes," and that some people on campus might find it "discomforting." Other adjectives used in reports about the flag include "intimidating," "aggressive," and "alienating."
After discussing the strange situation among themselves, Sigma Chi's members ultimately decided to not only not take down their American flag, but to instead replace it with a larger one. This, they said, would serve as a "silent but visible protest" of the anti-American sentiment expressed by Stanford's administrative liaison.
But this decision would ultimately contribute to Sigma Chi's removal from campus, sparking national outrage that an American university would punish students for putting up American symbols on their own property.
"... there is no reason why hoisting the American flag, on American soil, at an American institution, is offensive," wrote Antigone Xenopoulos for The Stanford Review. "To classify the American flag on American soil as offensive or jingoistic ... implies the condemnation of the United States at large."
Anyone who's familiar with the geographic locale of Stanford already knows that this particular area of the country is notably hostile to pretty much all things American. Even so, it's still part of the U.S., which should mean that any and all displays of patriotism are, at the very least, tolerated, if not respected for the freedom they represent.
But not at Stanford, where even the National Anthem is now off-limits during graduation ceremonies. It's all part of Stanford's agenda to position itself "as a global rather than American institution," to quote Xenopoulos' description of her school.
While it's never a good idea to blindly follow and support everything that our leaders say and do in the name of patriotism – especially when it goes against the Constitution – there's something to be said for respecting the institution itself. Our founders, after all, made incredible sacrifices to establish a society founded upon the principles of freedom and liberty – which naturally extends even to the America-haters at Stanford.
"The distinction between our timeless political institutions (and their hallowed symbols) and the country's leaders and policies at any given moment in history is elementary but crucial," Xenopoulos explains in her own words.
"Condemnations of patriotism fail to recognize that the United States' institutions have and will continue to outlive unpopular leaders. This fact alone is cause for significant national pride. The vilification of our nation and its symbols is damning for the social fabric of American society. The current political climate has destroyed the last remnants of civic unity and patriotism."
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