Professor admits American flag makes him 'anxious' during Flag Day interview

Grant Silva of Marquette worries that 'patriotism quickly slips into nationalism,' especially 'the flag waving, my country love it or leave it kind of attitude.'

For a 'non-white person,' Silva argues that the American flag represents 'exclusion' and advances a 'perpetual foreigner, perpetual outsider status' for minorities.

Grant Silva, a philosophy professor at Marquette University, says that “excessive imagery” of the American flag makes him feel “anxious.”

Silva, a specialist in “Latin American philosophy, political philosophy, and the philosophy of race and ethnicity,” recently spoke with a local Milwaukee-based NPR affiliate for a Flag Day interview last week, in which he expressed his qualms about celebrating the holiday.

”I also get a little bit anxious around the excessive imagery of the flag in part because in my experience, patriotism quickly slips into nationalism,” Silva said. 

“Especially the simplistic version of patriotism, the flag waving, my country love it or leave it kind of attitude,” he continued. “That is just a hop, skip and a jump away from becoming nationalism.”

[RELATED: Prof claims American patriotism is ‘drenched in whiteness’]

Silva acknowledged that, as a Mexican American, his discomfort with the American flag stems from his childhood when he allegedly saw stickers portraying a target on a group of people crossing a border. According to his recollection, Silva said the image read “something similar to like ‘Immigrant Hunting License.’”

“I remember thinking as a Mexican American, how safe am I in this particular gas station when this signage like this — these are stickers being sold, right?” he explained.

“It wasn’t the color line that was causing this difference, right, but it was the imagery of the border. And so we see the border when we see certain individuals that don’t fit the meaning of what it means to be an American.”

Silva noted that, while he would like to see the flag displayed in what he deems “a proud manner,” but for now, “it all too quickly takes on the stakes that, as a non-white person, can mean a lot, right?”

[RELATED: U. California students remove offensive American flag from ‘inclusive’ space]

“It can mean a sense of inclusion or exclusion. A sense of belonging or the ascription of perpetual foreigner, perpetual outsider status; that that flag is not for me unless I’m willing to abide by the assimilatory paradigm that some of these individuals that you’re talking about tend to put forward.”

This instance is the latest of many in which Campus Reform has documented a professor’s contempt for the American flag. In October 2020, Campus Reform reported that an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University’s School of Social Work called the flag “a symbol of genocide.”

Campus Reform has reached out to all relevant entities for comment and will update this story accordingly.