St. Petersburg Times
Print storySubscribe to the Times

Conservatism is not new on campus

Published July 27, 2003

Re: UF flag flap: Patriotism or politics? July 20.

I greeted Sunday morning's article on the growing influence of conservatism on Florida college campuses with a mixture of lethargy and anger. As a graduate of the University of Central Florida in 2000, and a graduate of Stetson University College of Law in 2003, I am not that far removed from the college life. I became angered at this article for several reasons. First, the writer treats conservativism's resurgence on college campuses with the same degree of joviality she would treat the resurgence of a rash or chicken pox. The tone of the article was such that the writer seemed unable to believe how, on these enclosed bastions of political correctness, anyone under the age of 30 would have the audacity to think for himself.

Second, to treat conservatism on college campuses as an anomaly simply indicates the writer's ignorance of the topic. Seven years ago when I entered UCF, I was shocked to find as many conservatives as I did. In my fraternity of 120 students, of those registered to vote, over 75 percent were registered Republicans. In my encounters with other students I found, overwhelmingly, that students recognized the intellectual lunacy of liberalism and did not subscribe to the utopian "vision" that one is required to have to make liberalism intellectually acceptable. Conservatives on campus are nothing new. Only now they realize that they do not need a professor standing next to them to give them credibility. They have come to realize that they have two powerful tools at their disposal: truth and the Internet. The decentralization of information leads to the decentralization of power, and judging by the alarm in the writer's words, this truth is beginning to catch on.

-- Fred Piccolo Jr., St. Petersburg

Hiding behind the flag

Re: UF flag flap: patriotism or politics?, July 20.

This article was long overdue. The American flag has been co-opted by conservative groups in a successful ploy to tie their policies and agenda to patriotism and to portray any opposition as anti-American. This blatant seizure of a flag that represents all that Americans hold dear - our diversity, our freedom to disagree, our history, our respect for other people's rights and other sovereign nations - is a despicable attempt to mask a corrupt political system's ongoing attacks on Americans' personal freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Our revered forefathers made major personal sacrifices to give each of us the freedom we should cherish today. They were rebels, not conservatives. Many were rich, respected leaders of their respective colonies. They personally went to war and sent their sons to war against the greatest world power of their time. They risked their lives, fortunes and families for the freedom we should hold dear today. These real heroes and real patriots did not hide behind a flag for their hidden agenda and personal profit. They did not send other American families' children off to fight the battle alone: They were on the same battlefields with them. They did not attack another nation (however terrible its leader) under false pretenses and with overwhelming force and with great technological superiority. They risked everything for the same rights that our present administration is bent on taking away under the guise of the Patriot Act.

The American people had better wake up before it is too late to preserve what was so hard-won and can be so easily lost. Rome fell when its leaders pacified the people with false patriotism, bread (tax cuts) and circuses (TV, sports arenas, politically inspired extravaganzas). It's time we look into our real values and do it sincerely and not just with flag-waving, phony, religious piety, and insincere talk of "family values." Let us respect our flag for what it truly represents and not flaunt it to advance a dangerous agenda. Let us humbly go to our church, synagogue or mosque and ask God to show us the way to use our power and wealth as a nation to truly advance world peace and economic well-being for all nations, especially the impoverished from which the seeds of violence sprout. Let us truly look within our own families and encourage a kinder, gentler and less selfish attitude toward all people, American or otherwise. Finally, and perhaps most important, let us be ever vigilant from a tyranny that springs from within; let us all examine what is happening in the world of politics around us and vote with our minds as well as with our hearts for those who can lead the world toward peace and prosperity for all and not for just the privileged few.

-- Nicholas Mediatore, Tarpon Springs

Put one in every classroom

Re: UF flag flap: patriotism or politics?

After reading the July 20 article on hanging flags in our colleges, I couldn't help but feel disgusted. There should be an American flag in every college classroom in the country. For the people who do not support the flag, if it weren't for the American flag, you wouldn't even have the opportunity to receive an education. Go to another country and then you'll know what it's like to be oppressed from your rights and education. According to the select students in the article, the flags would "intimidate people who don't support the war in Iraq or the U.S. administration." If this is the mentality of these college students, then I feel very sorry for them. The flag does not just represent one war. The flag represents all the wars that this country and its citizens fought and won in order to have its rights. The flag represents freedom and liberty, and it's because of that freedom that these select students even have the right to express their feelings about the flag. The colleges that these students attend only exist because of the U.S. flag. Some of them only have the opportunity to attend college because of U.S. taxpayer money designated for scholarships.

Flying the flag is not about what political party you belong to, or whether or not you support a war. It is about being a proud American.

This is exactly what is wrong with the country today. Every time someone somewhere needs something, they turn to the United States, but at the very first sight of U.S. patriotism those same people look down on America.

I am a Florida college student, and I would be extremely proud to have the American flag in every room of the college I attend every minute of the day.

-- James Zervios, Clearwater

A bad flag idea

Re: UF flag flap: patriotism or politics?

American flags in 382 classrooms? Is this guy nuts? A college classroom is not like a classroom in high school or elementary school. It is not supervised; in fact, students (supposedly adults) wander in and out of unoccupied classrooms at will. I can't think of a worse scenario in terms of opportunities for flag desecration than to provide 382 flags for potential vandals.

As a UF grad, I feel more than a little entitled to speak up about this. I was there during the 1972 antiwar demonstrations, and I know that most of those flags would have been burned in the streets if they were hanging in classrooms. A respectful memorial to the victims of 9/11 is entirely appropriate and would not be controversial.

What I object to just as much is the hijacking of the conservative movement by neocon warmongers who want to wrap themselves in the flag in order to justify their imperialist bombast. If Adam Guillette wakes up one morning to find all 382 of his flags stolen, he might stop and reconsider the consequences of his narrow-minded jingoism.

-- Leonard Martino, Tampa

The administration's spin

Re: Bush bashing reaches epic contortions, July 20.

I haven't seen a statement concerning the justification - or lack thereof - for the Iraq invasion so concisely put as in Philip Gailey's column:

"They didn't have to try to link Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida terrorists without credible evidence, but they did. They didn't have to try to make it appear that Iraq was on the verge of developing nuclear weapons, but they did. They didn't have to portray Iraq as an imminent threat when, as it appears now, it wasn't, but they did."

Additionally, if Saddam Hussein's treatment of his own people is now the predominant justification for the war, isn't this the same Hussein we aided and provided with military equipment when he was fighting Iran in spite of his crimes against his people? Shouldn't we have aided Iran and let them take care of Hussein? It could have saved more than 150 American lives.

How long will the administration's "spin" go on?

-- W.L. Head, Clearwater [Last modified July 27, 2003, 01:33:08]


  • From days of thunder to days of wondering

  • Books
  • Catching the music of the world
  • Cyberia
  • Dying in the deep
  • Great Beginnings
  • Stars in their courses
  • The concept of Jimi Hendrix
  • The Great Rock On
  • You'll know everything about the Airplane
  • Editorial: Shortsighted on the seas
  • Editorial: USF by any other name
  • Letters: Conservatism is not new on campus
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111