Hampshire College’s President Jonathan Lash flew the campus flag upside-down and at half-mast as “a two-fold statement: it is a reclamation of mourning, and it is an act of resistance against the symbolic violence of the American flag.”
He writes, in an email sent to all students and faculty, “The flag and the state which it represents inhibits its citizens from developing cross-national and cross-cultural solidarity by deeming some people worthy of mourning while deeming others terrorists or criminals.”
In his letter to the Hampshire community, he addresses issues of race, nationalism and state-violence. His act is in part a response to the Boston Bombings, which, he writes, were “an impetus for us all to consider the powerful symbolism of the flag.” President Jonathan Lash encourages the Hampshire community to “to turn a critical eye to the presence of the American flag” which he suggests “is mobilized by state forces in such times of mourning in order to justify further violence”.
“We at Hampshire now ask: why does the state decide when we mourn?”
President Lash continued:
“In times of tragedy, the American public is urged to combat terrorism with
patriotism. The flag is upheld as a seemingly benign rallying point of
unity and pride, but it is also used to cultivate American exceptionalism
and perpetuate racist oppression. The state strategically brings certain
acts of violence into the public consciousness and excludes others to
create a culture wherein continued state violence is condoned.”
This follows a recent campus-wide forum entitled, “The Flag on Our Front Lawn,” in which students engaged in an open dialogue about the flag’s prominent placing. This also marks a turn in Hampshire history, as it breaks a decades-long streak of administrative complacence with neoliberalism.
For the full letter to the community, click here.
Augh I wish I’d attended Hampshire sometimes. This is one of those times.
Speaking truth to power from quite the pulpit.