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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
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Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

Offensive Patriotism?

Last week, Americans were witness to one of the most savage, despicable acts of terrorism in the history of the world. This nation will not tolerate such actions. When attacked, the people of the United States respond with a great burst of unity and patriotism, and quickly move to back their leaders.
Mable Pratt, a principal of McMasters Elementary School in Pasadena forced a second-grade student to change her shirt because it had an American flag on it. Pratt claimed that it did not adhere to the school’s dress code and was potentially offensive. Pratt reversed her course when the child’s infuriated father a Desert Storm veteran -confronted her and called the Houston media.
Calling it a “misunderstanding,” Pratt said that the flag issue “blew out of hand.” No apology was made to the student or her parents for the embarrassment the child endured for trying to show her support for her country.
NCCI Holdings of Boca Raton, Fla. forced employees to remove American flags from their desks and suspended an employee when she refused to cooperate.
“Divisive statements or actions, political or religious discussions and anything else that could be divisive or mean different things to different people are not appropriate in our work environment,” Chief Executive Officer Bill Schrempf said Friday in a memo to employees.
The company, which processes unemployment claims for the state of Florida, reversed course under heavy pressure from Gov. Jeb Bush.
By Monday, managers were distributing flags, encouraging patriotic displays and were contemplating “modifying our position even more,” an NCCI spokesman told Fox News.
These remarkably insensitive attempts at sensitivity have also reached the highest levels of education. Lehigh University, in Bethlehem PA, ordered bus drivers and students to remove American flags from public display, as they were offensive to foreign students.
“I’m sitting on this bus and I hear a call over the radio for them to remove all American flags,” Bill Guglielmo, a junior engineering student from Davidson, Md., told the Allentown (PA) Morning Call.
In all likelihood, they were thinking about their pocketbooks. Lehigh is a very expensive private school, where 75 percent of American students receive some form of financial aid. Foreign students almost always pay full tuition, often with some support from their native governments. Lest they offend such a cash cow, someone in Lehigh’s administration decided to offend the American people.
Lehigh’s Vice Provost for Student Affairs, John Smeaton, was the orchestrator of the flag ban. When students and employees refused to comply with the ban and went to the press, Smeaton’s superiors overruled him. Flags were once again hanging proudly in less than two hours, while Smeaton was hung out to dry.
“In a momentary lapse of judgment, which I deeply regret, I suggested the flag be removed from inside the bus,” Smeaton said on Monday. “An hour later, when I had time to reflect on that request, I realized that my decision was absolutely wrong. I immediately asked that the flag be returned.”
In Smeaton’s case, as it is for NCCI and McMasters elementary, their apologies are too little to be considered geniune. The damage had already been done. Adults and children, intent on showing support for their country, have been given the impression that something is more important than their nation and the dead that it is mourning.
“The message (behind the ban) was supposed to be that we are sensitive to everyone,” Smeaton claimed.
In their attempts to be sensitive to the minority, they have shown contempt for the majority. It has also given our enemies the satisfaction-albeit small-that there are fissures in this nation’s public facade.
In this time of great national pain, the flying of the American flag and other signs of patriotism are a way for many to heal. Showing a sniveling contempt for the feelings of many by trying to hide behind the needs of an imaginary few is an embarrassment. In order to win this newest crusade, this country must stand united behind each other, our military and our president as they have before. Those who do not do so should be ashamed.
Mark Passwaters is a senior political science major.

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