Just last week, the Washington Times reported that the student government at the University of California, Irvine, voted to remove the American flag from one of their rooms, arguing that it might be perceived as "offensive" and "anti-inclusive." This, of course, provoked many comments on social media. Some were helpful, but most were inflammatory.
The amazing part of this conversation? I noticed that both my conservative and liberal friends were equally outraged that this action had taken place.
Of course, this made me wonder: If both liberals and conservatives believe that the American flag should be displayed, what is so "offensive" or "anti-inclusive" about it?
As I continue to read about this issue, it's obvious that the problem is not primarily with the American flag itself. After all, America has been the most inclusive nation in the history of the world, being the only nation not defined by a certain cultural or ethnic heritage, but instead a heritage of thought. The notions of freedom, equality, inclusiveness, citizen activism, etc., have perpetuated through the generations and enveloped people of every race and ethnicity.
However, it is no secret that our nation has its roots in the tradition of the West. And it is true that, over the centuries, the West has been known to be oppressive and anti-inclusive. It was the West that oppressed Christians in the days of the Roman Empire. It was the West that colonized foreign lands, instituting governments that were not welcomed by the natives. It was the West that took those first slaves from their home and brought them over to the North American continent, treating them and their progeny as chattel for nearly 200 years.
But what stands is unique about the Western tradition is that, because it is based on a tradition of thought, unjustifiable actions and mindsets are constantly evaluated in light of our traditions, our reason, and the natural law we believe to be revealed by God.
Because of this tradition of introspection, these activities no longer occur. Christians, once persecuted, make up a significant portion of the Western world. Colonialism, while not entirely eradicated, is much less widely accepted that it has been in years past. And since the late 1800s, and more so since the 1960s, we have recognized that all humans, regardless of color, deserve equal protection under the law and equal rights as citizens.
Another contemporary example of this evaluation is the current discussion of homosexual rights. Regardless of where one falls on this issue, it is clear to see that the West has identified a potential problem—discrimination against those of different sexual orientations—and is looking to principles of justice, equality, and fairness to try and correct these problems.
I think it is safe to say that we have come a long way over the centuries.
If Westernism, and American Westernism in particular, is offensive and anti-inclusive, then by logical extension you have to say that freedom, equality, fairness, participative government, and a rich history of immigration and integration is offensive and anti-inclusive.
And this doesn't correspond with the facts of our nation's history.