In response to ‘Don’t deface the Irish flag’
Letter to the Editor | Friday, February 12, 2016
This letter is in response to “Don’t deface the Irish flag” by Dearbhla Fay. Let me begin by thanking you for caring for the perception of the American and Irish flags. I can understand your frustration, but I must in good conscience as a free speech-supporting American offer a rebuttal.
As you referenced in your letter, the Flag Code of the United States contains the rules and regulations used by Americans to render honors to Old Glory. This reverence toward the flag as a symbol of our country is not veneration to a cloth but all that it represents.
It represents our common ideologies as outlined foremost in our Constitution in addition to the sacrifices of heroic Americans who have dedicated their lives to defending it. The Constitution — specifically the First Amendment — guarantees free speech in many forms. It can come as a protest of the government without risk of violence or political retribution. It could come as a conspiracy theorist outside of a crowded venue wildly speculating Bush conceived 9/11 and Dick Cheney is actually a lizard in disguise. It can even come as detestable hate speech, which we must allow to be spoken but should choose to ignore. It may also come through the act of burning and other defacement of the United States flag, as upheld in the case of Texas v. Johnson.
These acts against our flag would make any American furious. I will admit I am repulsed by any individual who feels so self-righteous that he or she can disrespect those proud few who have defended this right. However, this is why Americans have fought and continue to fight. They fought so anyone or any group could have the freedom to burn any piece of cloth or emblazon any depiction of the red, white and blue.
Fay wrote that “the Irish flag should not, under any circumstances, be used as an advertising board for any cause or organization,” but for generations, organizations throughout the island have placed insignias calling for the cause of self-rule or British expulsion onto the flag. That must not be an issue, unless it has to do with Americans being the ones pressing the logo, but let’s assume that’s not the case.
I would be remiss not to mention the suspicious timing of the letter. As a junior, I have witnessed thousands of students bedecked and bedazzled with the green, white and orange. Where was the student outcry then? Did I miss the vehement epistle after our student section was mildly unsuccessful (to say the least) in unfurling the national flag of Ireland? I will admit I might have, but a quick query through the Observer archives suggests otherwise.
I have a feeling the issue does not arise from the Irish flag being “viewed as a symbol of Notre Dame,” as witnessed by a lack of any letter prior. Instead, I believe the offense derived from its use in conjunction with the March for Life, though Fay claims this is not the case. America’s search for peace is an inspiration to causes of justice and righteousness across the world, fitting for the March for Life, which is seeking justice for the unborn. Ireland’s current laws on abortion are closer to a Catholic solution to end the travesty of abortion, which is an ironic twist considering the perceived motivation for Fay’s letter.
And by the way, if anyone is looking for a Notre Dame-themed American flag, it’s on the back wall of the bookstore, sold for $30.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.