After the presidential election, the liberal Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts made the decision to lower its U.S. flag on campus to half-staff due to, at least according to president Jonathan Lash, "a range of views on campus, including people whose experience growing up have made the flag a symbol of fear, which was strengthened by the toxic language during the campaign."
According to CBS Boston, the "gesture" quickly sparked outrage on campus among veterans and their families which ultimately resulted in someone removing the flag on Veterans Day to burn it.
He said the trouble started with a gesture meant to help provoke “meaningful and respectful dialogue” on campus–a stance he outlined in a post on the college’s Facebook page. In that post, he said the Board of Trustees decided to fly the flag at half-staff due to the “environment of escalating hate-based violence” in the wake of the election.
Lash said the gesture was also meant to be an “expression of grief” over deaths around the world, including those of U.S. service members. Unfortunately, the move didn’t work as planned, and many–especially veterans and families of veterans in the Hampshire College family–saw it as being disrespectful of the tradition of expressing mourning on a national level.
“Frankly, doing that, it didn’t help,” he said. “Flying the flag at half-mast just created more controversy.”
Tuesday afternoon, the school posted on its Facebook page to say they were temporarily suspending comments because their staff was about to go on holiday, and could not keep up with the huge volume.
Of course, university president Jonathan Lash points out that extensive therapy sessions will be required with the "triggered" snowflakes on campus before the "symbol of fear" can be flown on campus again.
The plan now that the flag is down is for group discussions with faculty, staff, and students about the issues, but there is no timeline for when the flag might fly again.
“We intend to go forward with that, and then reconsider how we fly the flag going forward,” Lash said.
“When President Obama ordered national flags at half-staff to recognize the victims in Paris, something we completely agreed with, there were a number of people on campus that said ‘Yes, but, what about the hundreds of people being killed by terror in Syria and Lebanon and Pakistan?’ and asked that the school find some way to recognize victims globally,” said Lash. “So we periodically lowered the flag to recognize victims of violence.”
He said the school will focus on completing those group conversations before putting the flag back up.
When does this madness end?