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Letter to the Editor

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The college made the right decision, albeit controversial, in choosing to fly the Palestinian flag. Contrary to the article published on February 3 by the College Republicans, I don’t believe that this display of the flag necessarily has to be grounded in “an effort to promote the cause of Palestine and to help build political pressure for recognition.” For a small school in Southwestern Virginia, promoting the cause of Palestine in order to help it gain recognition as a state seems to be, at the very least, ambitious.  

The rotation of the international flags on the fifth pole serves to foster a sense of belonging to the international students. Probably the decision was grounded in providing recognition to the Palestinian students who study at Roanoke, a place half a world away from their homes and families.  I find it disappointing that you turn what may be seen more as a nod of support to a tiny minority of students who are far away from home into a radical, anti-American stance. The true “reality” of the situation is that flying the Palestinian flag will not radicalize the undecided students at Roanoke, result in the imposition of Sharia law, nor does it implicitly endorse terrorism. 

Nowhere does your article recognize these students and their feelings, but it only preaches the gospel of “neutrality” (a false one at that) and takes offense at the perceived assault on your feelings.  Refusing to recognize that Palestinians exist on Roanoke College campus will not make Palestinians everywhere go away and most certainly does not contribute to a constructive dialogue around an issue where the adjective, “complex” does not seem to suffice.  Complexity is a reality of life, and I believe that “one of the founding responsibilities” of my alma mater is not to promote neutrality, as you so passionately champion, it is to educate its students to think critically. 

 

Jillian Foerster, ’11