By Jesse Stayer
America is the land of the free. However, the state of actually being “free” is a double-edged sword, or just a flag in a window that means we lost the war.
Under the Bill of Rights, or the first Ten Amendments to the United States Constitution, we are given a set of both civil liberties and civil rights.
In the First Amendment, it states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a re-dress of grievances.”
On paper, that sounds like a pretty good addition to the Constitution. It covers a lot of ground, yet it’s both clear and concise. Even so, like the great Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”
The problem with the First Amendment is not in the writing, but in who reads it. Utilizing free-dom of speech, this is a petition for a redress of grievances to KU.
The irony behind “a review for constitutionality” is not just the fact that KU’s legal counsel is using the same laws given to promote positive freedoms in order to propagate hate. KU using a hard “NOT” and then reneging on the updated housing policy will only result in those who brought their racist propaganda home to come back with it.
After many years of reading between the lines of the Bill of Rights, positive back-peddling and reaching the pinnacle of political disparity (nonpartisanship), we now live in a society where you can find all sorts of people of various racial backgrounds and nationalities.
Now the young men and women are fighting at school about the First Amendment in relation to decorating their dorms with the Confederate flag and swastikas.
Kent Dahlquist, KU’s director of housing sent out an email on Dec. 7, 2015 stating:
“The link below is to the Housing and Residence Life’s updated Decoration Policy. You will note change. Both the confederate flag and swastika are NOT permitted in any residence hall, suite, apartment or student room beginning in the Spring 2016. Please be sure that if you have items such as these you remove and take them home with you for Winter Break.”
Just over a week later on Dec. 15, 2015 KU Relations backpedaled with an email revoking their word.
Here’s the problem with the “constitutionality” of the Confederate flag, swastikas and other symbols of hate: It is in breach of the First Amendment to deny someone their inalienable right to freely hate other people.
That’s because in America, to truly be free to love, some people feel they should also be allowed to openly hate. This isn’t just KU’s problem. This is a problem from sea to shining sea, barring liberal areas that have actually reached modernity.
If someone is going to wave a flag or adorn a symbol and call it freedom of speech and expression, their speech better be factual and their expression just.
Saying the Confederate flag is a symbol of heritage is an open admission to either lying about ones ancestry, evading the fact that there is some prejudice feeling or both.
If you are one of the people that think the flag represents America and its freedoms, then I ask, what freedoms and what version of America are you referring to? The North fought to preserve The Union.
This was after the South committed open rebellion and treason against “America” decided to se-cede and didn’t like that Northerners declared liberty.
Here’s a simple argument from a student born after the Cold War: KU is a public university. Therefore, we know various people attend the university.
So, in accommodating all, certain symbols that have become synonymous with hate should not be allowed, for they may cause undue stress or incite the public to protest, and that’s not good for University Relations.
Maybe the university should look up the “shouting fire in a crowded theater law,” where we already began limiting free speech when it is in poor taste and exacerbates tensions we simply cannot seem to shake in America.
As for the swastika, it may have once been used in Asia as an ancient religious symbol of success; however, after its use by Nazi Germany, the symbol will never be rehabilitated.
It is now a symbol of hegemonic fascism, a genocide so grandiose in scale that it is almost impossible to extrapolate a precise number of victims thus leaving one to estimate, and to estimate yet again the number of casualties that resulted from World War II in its entirety.
Anyone on campus utilizing that symbol is exhausting freedom of speech to its last irrational breath. The swastika is nothing more than a grotesque symbol of man’s inglorious absurdity at trying to find perfection.
The Confederate flag and swastika have no intrinsic value alone. It is when we affix meanings to them that they become symbolic of our own personal interests. Both the Confederate flag and the swastika play on identity politics and social values.
KU can “educate our students and other members of our community so they will understand the historical and modern context for these symbols”, but that seems whimsical at best. It also doesn’t do anything because the students don’t listen. If you don’t ban these items and make their presence punishable, you’ve helped no one and have done less than nothing.
People for equality that are against those that perpetuate hate are so close to removing that word from our vernacular. The only thing we stand to hate, is hate itself.
Finding “equal” ground seems laughable at best. It’s as much a joke for a liberal to watch Bill O’Reilly as it is for a conservative to watch Bill Maher. Still, the wall is always warmer by the TV.
It may be even warmer with a flag hanging above it that constantly reminds you of what you think when it’s off. Above all else Kutztown, a side should be picked because there is no neutrality.