Lack of Patriotism in American Universities

To most Americans, the American flag is a symbol of an entity that deserves display; however, when that theory is tested with the professors at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), it does not hold up.

Last semester, the TCNJ College Republicans held an American flag audit towards the end of the year. The purpose of the audit was to promote Americanism on campus by dispersing free American flags to any professor who was willing to showcase one in his or her office.

Often, on colleges and universities across the country, our flag is difficult to find, which is why we took the liberty of doing this. Even in the most typical spots one would expect to see a flag, like in the classroom, they are many times absent. Take a look inside most of the classrooms of TCNJ and a student will find only wall and chalkboard, and trust me, it has nothing to do with budget cuts– they are not present for a reason.

The organization sent out e-mails (or directly spoke to the professor) to most of the departments on campus, asking every professor whether they were interested in one or not. Needless to say, the results were dismal; only 20 professors were interested in some red, white, and blue.

This exercise helped identify supporters and definite opponents to the American way. My absolute favorite e-mail came from one professor who showed his utter disdain for America. He declined our offer because his office already had a flag, the one of Puerto Rico, and that he could never wave an American flag since it would represent imperialism. What a patriot!

“He is lying or at the very least exaggerating!” No, I am not making this up, nor is this hyperbole. This is the pathetic truth, and there were a couple other clear-cut, anti-American responses.

Most professors simply did not get back to our club’s requests. Now, there could be a host of reasons why one would not respond, such as being too busy, forgetting to write back, or already having an American flag, but to me that just seems unlikely for the bulk of the faculty.

Perhaps most of our e-mails were ignored because the professors ultimately dislike America. While I know that to be true with a couple, I highly doubt this is the dominant trend.

It is possible that the way we worded our e-mails could lead one to believe that by accepting these flags, they are subtly endorsing tenets of conservatism, even though they were carefully worded to include no such suggestions. Regardless, maybe by displaying an American flag, that professor could be showing their approval for the Iraqi war– a foreign policy decision that “conservatives” (a true conservative would not be in favor of such an unnecessary war) still support more than any other political group. Or maybe it would signal support for President George W. Bush.

It could be even more elementary. Since the flags were being offered by a group of Republicans, it is possible that through accepting them, it would give tacit support to the whole Republican Party. These were actual concerns from some professors who eventually accepted the flags.

Both of these possibilities bring to light an interesting idea: is waving the American flag a symbol of conservatism? And to take it further, does that mean conservatives love their country more than liberals?

I would really like to think the contrary, but unfortunately, it is hard to think otherwise. Those professors that loved our initiative were much more sympathetic to the conservative point of view through some of their e-mails and in-person dialogues, while some of those that declined were certainly in favor of liberalism (some were certainly radical Leftists who put down the nation.)

Being proud to be an American should not be something an abnormal amount of conservatives and Republicans cherish over liberals. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the majority of policies being implemented with the current presidential administration or the stances of one’s local representatives, there is still a lot worth honoring about America, and the very least one could do is wave Old Glory.

Note: A version of this article also appeared in TCNJ's The Signal and


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your analysis of alternative explanations is good. I think most professors are professionally restrained from allying themselves with any political group, especially a conservative group. Certainly displaying the flag should not be a 'conservative issue', but trying to convince people into displaying the flag more frequently is a political issue.

As a private citizen, if someone wrote me a letter, or knocked on my door and offered me a flag, I would decline. I'd be deeply suspicious of the organization's motivations, and whether they'd twist my participation into my approving of their cause, whatever it may be.

To me patriotism and religion are very much alike. They inspire deep emotions and selfless acts, but they're very personal, rarely polite topics for public conversation, and often used by manipulators of men. I'm a Christian, but I'm still uncomfortable when people knock on my door with tracts; I'm an American, but I'm uncomfortable when people tell me I should be more patriotic.

June 17, 2008 at 8:34 PM  

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