On the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno, the flag of the United States of America is on the ground, attacked by a series of axes. As my fellow students and citizens are angered and disgusted, I would like to say that I am a proud student of the University of Nevada, Reno, and a proud citizen of the United States of America.
The flag is a symbol of our country, 50 stars and 13 stripes representing over three hundred million people in this country and around the world. The flag is also a piece of fabric. The stars do not guarantee a person’s right to practice religion. The red stripes do not provide for standing armed forces. Our three branches of government are not separate and equal because of the white stripes. The flag doesn’t guarantee anybody anything, doesn’t guarantee rights, responsibilities, and/or powers. Our Constitution does that. All the flag does is act as a symbol for our country. Our flag is just a design, but a very pretty design.
But it is a design for all Americans. As soon as you are born or naturalized as a citizen, the flag is yours. Do with it as you wish. Want to use the flag to show how much you love this county? Be my guest! Want to use the flag to register your displeasure and fears over the direction of this country? Go right on ahead! Want to use the flag to cover your naked body on social media? Why not! Want to use the flag to make boatloads of cash by putting it on shirts, undergarments, and cakes? That’s perfectly fine, but remember to pay taxes!
One thing that isn’t being heard enough is the question, “why?” Why are people protesting? Why do people stand for the flag? If these questions can be answered and addressed, just maybe people will be brought together instead of torn apart. People are protesting with the aid of the flag for many reasons: police brutality, racial injustice, legal reforms, free expression, the list goes on. These issues need to be addressed, especially since these protests and reactions have turned us against each other. Listen to the protesters, take action, and try not to give people reasons to protest.
It is also important for people to know why they stand for the flag. For myself, I stand for the flag for many reasons. I stand because the history of this country is all about the constant progression towards freedom, equality, and justice for all people. We haven’t been perfect, but we strive to improve ourselves and work toward that goal. During the times of a progress quagmire, the United States of America is the epicenter of the literary, artistic, and entertainment world because of our culture of constantly redefining storytelling, expanding the galaxy of what is considered accepted and celebrated topics of discussion because of our near-lawlessness when it comes to creation and expression, and the protections of creators through copyrights, patents, and the First Amendment. Every person for themselves should decide upon reasons for why they stand. If someone stands for the flag because they are coerced, forced, or feel apathy, that does not strengthen the country, hollow gestures weaken it. In addition, frankly, just blind allegiance is rather creepy.
Our flag exists for all of its citizens, whether in pride or distress. It is the freedoms we enjoy that make us Americans, not the fabric we call our flag. Using the flag in celebration, in profit, and in protest, all in the spirit of freedom, is why we exist and why people die in defense of this country. In order to honor our flag, we need to understand for ourselves why each of us loves this country and from there, that’s when we can start truly and sincerely honoring our flag, whether it be putting it on the flagpole, on the rack, or on the floor.
P.S. To those who question why the axed flag is acceptable, and Nazi swastikas are treated with disgust, to borrow sentiments from Oprah Winfrey: for 12 million people around the world, when they saw the Nazi swastika, they knew that they were going to die because they were Jewish, because they were of color, because they were gay, because they were irrationally hated by evil people. When the swastika was painted on campus, it sent a message that people were not safe here. That’s why they’re different.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Patrick Hardin is a Noted Idiot. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush