IRVINE, Calif. – “There is a flag that has divided a nation and pit brother against brother. When this flag was brazenly put up on the campus of University of California Irvine, one brave student finally said enough and took a stand,” political satirist Ami Horowitz narrated in a recent Fox News video.
The set up for Horowitz’ latest episode of Ami on the Street alludes to the recent national focus on the Confederate flag and push to remove it and other tributes to the Old South from public view. But the clip isn’t about the Confederate flag, it’s about UC Irvine student government leader Matthew Guevara, who recently spearheaded a successful resolution to ban the American flag from a student lounge on campus.
From the Los Angeles Times in March:
Flags, they wrote, “construct paradigms of conformity.” The Stars and Stripes “has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism.” The lounge is supposed to be “culturally inclusive” and while hanging the flag might be seen as free speech, “freedom of speech in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible can be interpreted as hate speech.”
The student government’s legislative council banned all flags in the lounge by a vote of 6 to 4, though the body’s executive cabinet vetoed the resolution. UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman condemned the resolution.
“It was outrageous and indefensible that they would question the appropriateness of displaying the American flag on this great campus,” he wrote, according to the Times. “Before long, we will see even more Stars and Stripes at UCI, as we add additional flagpoles near the campus entrance.”
Horozitz’ recent interview with Guevara – “no relation to Che,” Horowitz said – sheds light on the twisted logic that lead to the resolution, providing a peak into the type of stellar education UC Irvine students receive. The interview both exposes the obvious irony in Guevara’s arguments, and wryly plays on the absurdity of banning the most recognized symbol of freedom in the world.
Horowitz: Somebody hung up a flag, an American flag.
Guevara: It made people feel very uncomfortable and unsafe in that room …
It was creating a very hostile environment, just because this flag being there. It doesn’t make people feel welcome at all, to where people wouldn’t even go into the space anymore because it was on the wall.
H: What people don’t understand is sometimes to be inclusive, you have to exclude things you don’t like.
G: Exactly, exactly, that’s one thing I tried to hit on in the legislation, sometimes you have to exclude things.
Horowitz noted Guevara’s ban-the-American flag resolution was approved by the legislative council by a solid majority.
G: I was really amazed by that. Almost every professor I talked to was in support in the end, and every graduate student I came across.
H: There’s a legitimate view that the American flag, it represents hate speech.
G: Yeah, no exactly, it’s a tool to silence people.
H: You’d be equally as uncomfortable with the Nazi flag or the ISIS flag in that room, correct?
G: Ya, ya.
H: Can you identify evil in this world?
G: Ya, but the U.S. is the head honcho. Top of the list, definitely.
H: Talk to me about the genocide of the black man going on society today.
G: Blacks are the most oppressed group in the U.S. by far.
It’s one of those philosophies where if you want to make a country better, you have to focus on the most oppressed group. That’s why people focus on … black transgender women, because that’s the most oppressed group in society.
H: They’re probably the most oppressed group in the history of planet earth, if you think about it.
G: Everything is the worst … statistically.
H: Fair to say there’s still slavery going on in America today?
G: Ya, it’s still going on with black people not being able to live in certain areas, not being able to get certain jobs. That’s modern legal slavery. Straight up slavery.
H: Where are your parents from?
G: My parents are from Mexico.
H: And why did they come here to the United State?
G: To try to find work, a better life, the American dream.
H: And instead they found this oppressive American country.
G: There is no such thing as class mobility. That’s an allusion.
H: Your mother, she must be so proud her son is now going to a major university in the United States.
G: She’s happy I’m taking advantage of the education system.
H: And your brother, also successful?
G: He has a good life.
H: So you must be proud of him?
H: Good for you. Are you taking any kind of federal aid, or federal assistance, scholarship or anything like that?
G: Ya, I got financial aid.
H: Why not say no to essentially American blood money?
G: I don’t really agree with it, but it’s kind of using the tools of the system to bring down the system, or create change later on.
H: I think it’s possible, your bill, your resolution, that could become our, who knows, our magna carta or our Declaration of Independence.
G: At the time I wrote it, I didn’t think it would have such a big impact.
H: I’m going to quote from your resolution: “It constructs paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards for others to obtain.” I’m totally smart enough to understand what exactly that means, but to me that’s on the same level as “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
G: Exactly, so it tries to show that a certain way of life.
H: The South Park guys say … (cuts to a clip of an American Flag emblazoned Hummer driving through a Arabic marketplace with the theme song “America, fu** ya.”) I don’t know about you, but it’s “America, fu** you.”
G: Ya, ya, exactly.