University Defaces & Flies American Flag in Protest of President Trump


The University of Kansas has come under fire in recent days for a controversial art installation designed in protest of the Trump administration.

As the university’s Spencer Museum of Art explained on its website, the “Pledges of Allegiance” installation was “commissioned by Creative Time, a New York-based public arts non-profit.”

The exhibit includes 16 flags, “each created by an acclaimed artist to reflect the current political climate,” the description continued.

Fox News columnist Todd Starnes wrote an editorial excoriating the university for its partnership in an art exhibit that included “a defaced American flag” flying on its campus.

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He wrote that one of his readers alerted him to one collage in particular, which was designed by artist Josephine Meckseper.

The reader told him that the display made him “ashamed to be a Jayhawk.”

Starnes described the individual as “enraged,” adding his opinion that “any right-thinking, red-blooded American patriot” should feel the same.

In a description of her own contribution, Meckseper referenced a specific target of her politically charged artwork.

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“The flag is a collage of an American flag and one of my dripped paintings which resembles the contours of the United States,” she wrote in an online post about the piece. “I divided the shape of the country in two for the flag design to reflect a deeply polarized country in which a president has openly bragged about harassing women and is withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol and UN Human Rights Council.”

For Starnes and some other critics, the artist’s message did not justify defacing the flag. The columnist also took issue with “the black and white sock printed onto the side of the Star-Spangled Banner,” offering a few theories for its inclusion.

“Static cling, perhaps?” he wrote. “Maybe she ran out of Bounce?”

Meckseper said that the sock “takes on a new symbolic meaning in light of the recent imprisonment of immigrant children at the border.”

Starnes wrote that her symbolism would only make sense if “the illegal immigrants are crossing the border sockless.”

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He also took issue with the artist’s pro-immigrant sentiments.

“Let’s not forget that we all came from somewhere and are only recent occupants of this country – native cultures knew to (take) care of this continent much better for thousands of years before us,” Meckseper wrote. “It’s about time for our differences to unite us rather than divide us.”

Starnes dismissed her call for unity.

“Speak for yourself, Ms. Meckseper,” he wrote, adding that a high-ranking Kansas Republican official agrees that the artwork is inappropriate.

Kris Kobach said it was “outrageous” that the public university would display Meckseper’s piece.

“The fact they call it art does not make it any less of a desecration of our flag,” he said.

Considering that the University of Kansas receives taxpayer funding, Kobach called the exhibit “doubly outrageous” and called on the university to remove it “right away.”

Kobach sided with Starnes and a number of social media critics who determined that there is no justification for what they saw as an unpatriotic display.

“It’s inexplicable why they think it is OK to display an American flag in this manner,” Kobach said.

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
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