EXCLUSIVE: California profs 'unequivocally' endorse American flag ban

In a letter uncovered by Campus Reform Tuesday afternoon, over 60 professors have endorsed the attempt to ban the American flag from an "inclusive" space on the campus of UC Irvine (UCI).

The letter, which features over 1,200 signatures as of this writing, praises the ban on national flags, especially the American flag, passed by the Associated Students of University of California, Irvine (ASUCI) last week. After Campus Reform broke the story, the ban received intense media scrutiny and was vetoed by organization’s Executive Cabinet.

“We write to support the six members who offered the resolution to remove national flags from the ASUCI lobby,” the letter reads. “The university ought to respect their political position and meet its obligation to protect and promote their safety. The resolution recognized that nationalism, including U.S. nationalism, often contributes to racism and xenophobia[.]”

“This is a more or less uncontroversial scholarly point, and in practice the resolution has drawn admiration nationally from much of the academic community,” the letter continues.

Prominent UC Irvine professors that allegedly signed the letter of support include James Porter, Professor of Classics; Virginia Jackson, UCI Endowed Chair in Rhetoric; Adriana Johnson, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature; Nasrin Rahimieh, Professor of Comparative Literature; and Luis Aviles, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese.

The letter complains that since the resolution came to light, “UCI has been inundated with racist, xenophobic comments and death threats against the students from people who are, precisely, invested in the paraphernalia of nationalism,” and that UCI’s Facebook page has “filled up with violent and racist remarks” which its moderator did not delete.

Richard Pham, a senior majoring in History, told Campus Reform he was appalled to learn that UC Irvine professors supported the actions of the student council.

“What troubles me about the flag ban is that it restricts free speech," Pham said. "This is a public university, we are adults here, we’re here to discuss ideas civilly, and they are seeking to ban things.”

The signatories charge that UCI linked its communications to Fox News, which the letter describes as “a notoriously inaccurate media source associated with racism, xenophobia and U.S. nationalism,” and worry that UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman’s response will lead to further harassment.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll ranked Fox News as the most trusted cable news network in the country.

“We admire the courage of the resolution's supporters amid this environment of political immaturity and threat, and support them unequivocally,” the letter concludes.

The letter appears to originate from Rei Terada, a professor of Comparative Literature at UC Irvine.

A few professors appear to be tweeting the letter out and the Occupy UC Davis Facebook page posted the letter yesterday.

Rei Terada did not respond to a request for comment from Campus Reform in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @CalebBonham