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Cervantes: To tread and to tolerate

BY CHRISTOPHER CERVANTES | MAY 11, 2015 5:00 AM

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If there is one thing that I have come to understand writing columns for The Daily Iowan, it is that I hate the gray areas. When I find a case or story that is a simple black-and-white scenario, I find it so easy to come to a valid and sound conclusion. But then there is the gray area, where discerning right from wrong is unbelievably difficult. However, what is by far more difficult is trying to properly explain a position in a gray area to others without receiving a vicious tongue-lashing.

Such is the case of the new trend, the “stomp on the U.S. flag” campaign started by the now infamous Eric Sheppard. Sheppard has gone on record citing his campaign as socially motivated. “That flag represents white supremacy racism, which is plaguing the entire Earth, so when we step on that flag, we are stepping on racism, white supremacy, things that were erected alongside our genocide and our holocaust.”

I am deeply disturbed and offended by these actions, and surely so are the countless veterans and armed forces of this nation. Not only is the motivation convoluted, but people are actually participating and creating viral videos supporting Sheppard, who (coincidently) created this challenge after what was allegedly his gun was found on his college campus during a series of anti-flag protests. “I’m a terrorist toward lies. I’m a terrorist toward liars. I’m a terrorist toward those who are wicked. So yes, I am a terrorist toward white people,” Sheppard states. “What I’m saying to you all is a warning of death that is coming upon this nation.”

The most frustrating aspect about this turn of events is that there is nothing that can be done about it. The action of stomping on a flag is considered an act of free speech and therefore protected by law. Any form of legal consequence or retribution is unattainable from this point on. However, this does not mean we have to accept this on its face.

I think it is safe to compare this flag desecration to the likes of Ku Klux Klan speeches and neo-Nazi works. The latter groups are not doing anything particularly illegal, yet a majority of the population regards them contemptuous as organizations and speakers. When they show their faces at large public events, they are met with severe opposition. This is how we should treat this idiotic attack on the flag.

In Duncan, Oklahoma, a local man has started his own opposition. The man, Bryce Wagoner, issued a challenge for people to get an American flag and fly it proudly. “This has nothing to do about me,” he said. “Just go out and put a flag up, show you’re still proud to be an American.” This type of nonviolent confrontation is what is needed to remind people that it is false that the American flag “represents white supremacy racism, which is plaguing the entire Earth,” but rather that it is a patriotic symbol of the democratic and freedom based ideals that we have set the precedent for.

I love our nation’s practice of free speech, despite my disagreements with certain people’s actions of views. Be like Bryce Wagoner, and use your own rights and freedom to fight back in the most patriotic way possible.


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