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Censoring 9/11, Campus Style

By Jason Mattera - – 09/12/05

College and high school officials around the country are using weak excuses and creating needless roadblocks for students who are eager to memorialize the fourth anniversary of 9/11. Over 100 high school and colleges are participating in Young America’s Foundation’s 9/11: Never Forget Project, which directs students to plot approximately 3,000 American flags on school quads and courtyards, to hand out Never Forget buttons, and to distribute posters reminding us of the burning towers and the other acts of terrorism committed against the United States. Despite the sensibility and compassion of such memorials, leftist administrators stand opposed to the idea. 
Christina and Cynthia Cozzetto of Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station, New York, were told by the school district’s administrative council that a memorial is off limits because the 9/11: Never Forget Project poster showing the burning towers, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl with a gun to his head, and the bombing of the USS Cole were too graphic. The council also argued that the Never Forget pins could be used as weapons, and the American flags would poke tiny holes in the sports field. As for pins allegedly being used as deadly weapons, the council never objected to the use and distribution of similar buttons during budget allocation. “Vote Yes” buttons were distributed to the student body when salary increases were to be voted on. There has also been little fear of deadly fights when the school sold buttons to raise funds for the homeless.

Kathryn Stickley, a student at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan, was initially told by school officials that purchasing 3,000 flags would be too expensive. So Kathryn got the local Veterans of Foreign Affairs to donate the flags. The school then told her that displaying American flags posed a fire hazard. This may seem like a plausible excuse if the event were held, say, in a movie theater. However, the flags would be displayed outside, in open terrain. The local deputy fire chief, Kevin Bersche, laughed at the school’s fire hazard rationale. The principal eventually admitted that American flags positioned outside the school would likely not result in the school’s incineration. Nevertheless, they said that they couldn’t allow Kathryn to move forward because of “logistics.” Only after Young America's Foundation got involved did the school finally let Kathryn move forward with the memorial.

Administrators at Washburn University in Kansas tried to derail Sean Harrington and the college conservatives’ 9/11 memorial. Sean was told that his group must camp out 24 hours a day and watch the American flags they plotted in the ground.

Katie Olmsted of Canisius College, in Buffalo, New York, was told by the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Ellen O. Conley, that placing small, American flags on the school’s quad would damage its elegant and expensive sprinkler system. That excuse seems a bit silly considering that normal lawn aeration involves prodding small holes into the ground to give the soil fresh air. Conley went on to say that if Katie wanted a memorial, her club would need to purchase magnetic flags for windows, which would end up costing over $1,000—more than double the club’s budget.

The University of Iowa didn’t even attempt to hide their bias. Instead of sponsoring a 9/11 memorial, a “Peace Fest” has been organized. Among others, co-sponsors include the International Socialist Organization, War Resisters League of Iowa City, Iowa Socialist Party , Iowans For Peace, University of Iowa Antiwar Committee, the University of Iowa College Greens, and the Women for Peace Iowa. The Women for Peace Iowa stated they felt “uncomfortable displaying [American flags] and search instead for dove [pins] to wear.”  Furthermore, the Iraq war “scared” them because America has destroyed “huge numbers of innocent civilians, without ever seriously addressing the real root causes for the September 11th attacks.” Radical Muslims indiscriminately murdering innocent people apparently doesn’t give the group any insight into “root causes.” 

Thankfully, these leftist antics are overshadowed by the many students and schools uniting their campuses on 9/11. For instance, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, with the help of college conservative Trey Winslett, scheduled a memorial service on Sunday, September 11th featuring an address by decorated Iraq War Veteran, Lt. Col. Scott Rutter (Ret.). Kara Luzik, a student at Halifax High School, is displaying 3,000 flags that bear names of 9/11 victims. And many schools followed the same path.

It’s still unfortunate, though, that many of our nation’s institutions of “higher learning” are blocking any acknowledgment of 9/11, and even more so, that they give shopworn explanations to cover their decrees of censorship. 

Jason Mattera is the Spokesman for Young America’s Foundation.

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