By Elliott Averett
In response to the prank apparently performed by pro-Palestinian activists on October 4th, it’s worth noting that I learned nothing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from their actions. Rather, I learned that some of my fellow countrymen apparently have no respect for the American flag, a symbol of a nation that has done more for them than they probably realize. Disagreeing with American public policy is one thing. I have my own opinions about American foreign and domestic policy, and my opinion is that a great deal of it needs to change. But I also take pride in being American, and I believe in the people and potential of this country. While these students may be, as they said, “pretty tuned in” to international news, they are apparently not tuned in to the rules of American flag etiquette, which states that no flag should be flown above the American flag, the flag is never supposed to touch the ground, and the flag should be folded and stored respectfully when taken down. It’s certainly never supposed to be pulled down and thrown in the bushes. This is not an issue of free speech, this is an issue of respect. I would encourage the students who did this to think about what America has done for them. They have the right to hold meetings and protests supporting Palestine. Perhaps they are receiving federal financial aid or loans. Maybe they used the federal interstate highway system to travel to Mac for the semester. Did their forefathers fight in wars to protect that flag? Did they work to improve America as part of a social justice movement? What would the people who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much for that flag think about their actions? Pulling down the flag, replacing it with a foreign flag, and discarding it in the bushes is not a gesture of solidarity, and it is not free speech. It tells me nothing about the pros or cons of Palestinian statehood. It is vandalism and it’s offensive to me as an American. Macalester is a global community where we respect all national traditions, and we should certainly respect our own.