Stanford is one of the most prominent American universities, and it also has a unique relationship with America. Compare Stanford to the Ivies, for example. Only one Ivy (Cornell) was founded after the American Revolution, and some of the original Ivy League charters celebrated the British King.
Not so with Stanford, which represents the greatness of the American West and American progress. Thus, our campus should be teeming with signs of patriotism for the greatest country in the world. But walking around Stanford’s campus, I feel a bereftness of that great symbol of freedom: the American flag.
While many houses in America have the red, white, and blue flying on their porches, the houses on the Row seem to fly every flag except Old Glory. Main Quad, the heart of campus, lacks an American flag. In the central part of campus, where visitors from across the globe marvel at this fine American institution, there are a total of three American flags, all relatively small in size. And two of those don’t really count. One is by the Post Office, a branch of the US federal government, and another one is in front of the Hoover Institution, an organization known for its patriotism.
There is a pretty flagpole in front of Green Library, but this flag is quite small and it pales in comparison to the size of the “Know Justice Know Peace” banner on the facade of Green Library (see below). The University is more than happy to hang up banners in support of the Black Lives Matter movement like the “Know Justice Know Peace” banner, but installing new American flags across campus seems to be a bridge too far.
Stanford’s aversion to the American flag has a long history, as the Review has previously reported. The lack of flags and patriotism at Stanford is a symptom of a deeper cultural problem. Some on the Left view expressing pride in America as backward or hickish; they may even claim that the entire foundation of American society is racist.
Love of the flag also represents the worst sin of all: being a conservative. Hampshire College faced criticism for temporarily removing US flags from its campus in the wake of the 2016 election due to students’ anger over President Trump’s victory. After a Republican president who literally hugged and kissed the American flag, it seems that many on the Left have become turned off by patriotic symbols.
In a time of great division domestically and globally, treating the flag like a divisive or embarrassing symbol is a tragic error. The flag serves as a sign of unity and hope for millions of people of all races, religions, and more. The flag represents the aspirations, hopes, and blessings of living in the United States of America, a country that defeated the evils of fascism and communism in the 20th century, put a man on the moon, and has created more prosperity and given more people more hope than any previous civilization. Stanford, one of America’s leading research universities, must honor this legacy by making the American flag a more prominent part of campus life.