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Letter to the editor

March 7, 2003

Kimberly Bennett wrote earlier this week of a woman who turns her back to the American flag in protest of our nation's political decisions. She claimed ignorance on the behalf of the woman and any others acting this way. Maybe it is not they, Ms. Bennett, who are ignorant; maybe it is not they who are unpatriotic.

I respect and admire that you serve for the Army, but what exactly are you fighting for? You cite history as the perfect reason to stand up in honor of our flag and our country, but it is through that very history we learn that America was founded through exactly what you oppose -- the freedom and the protected right to dissent.

Just because someone isn't of the majority opinion doesn't mean he or she isn't right, and absolutely doesn't mean that she doesn't have a right to be heard and considered. Would you have those who protest censored? Where does the line between democracy and dictatorship begin to blur? Silencing the dissenters of a minority opinion makes us no better than those with whom America battles.

Toni Smith's acts are a loud cry of patriotism. She loves her country and chooses to be an American. Although she is proud to live under the American flag, Smith is and should be equally as proud to disagree with decisions made on behalf of it. Being patriotic does not mean wholeheartedly agreeing with everything a government or a people stand for, act on, or do.

This country was founded in protest of actions a group of people felt unjust. Aaron Sorkin wrote the following line in the movie The American President: 'You want to claim this land as the 'land of the free?' Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn [or ignore, perhaps?] that flag in protest.'

Maybe Bennett no longer will salute merely the flag, but also those who exercise their national right -- and civic duty -- to oppose and protest the injustices and inconsistencies they perceive.

Joseph Roberts

Vocal Performance, '06