Thursday, February 27, 2003


Of course, with the growing urgency in the media about impending war, the protestors have come out of the woodwork. Most of them are little more than "cause-of-the-week" protestors, and should, in my opinion, be ignored along with the rest of the uneducated society. There is, however, one young lady who, in her small protest, is raising questions few are ready to face.

Her name is Toni Smith, and she is a Basketball player for a Division III school in Manhattanville. Normally, her school would not be in the national spotlight. The team they have is barely above average, and being D III, no one on it is a hopeful for the WNBA.

But, at the start of the season, Toni did something which exemplifies How amazing America truly is: She chose to stand with her back to the flag during the National Anthem, played before every sporting event.

In her words, "the government's priorities are not on bettering the quality of life for all of its people, but rather on expanding its own power." and as a result, she will not honor the symbol of that government. She is, in accordance with the First Amendment to the constitution, exercising her right "to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Others have grievances against the way she chooses to protest. One man, a Veitnam Vet, walked out on the court during the first time-out and held a full sized flag out in front of Toni's face. Of course, he was taken away. While she was peacably protesting, he was being disruptive. Later he said, "She disgraced herself and she disgraced the flag,"

--No sir, you have, by not allowing an American the right to be against something. By not allowing the country you fought for the opportunity to examine itself, and its actions, in a way that is not harmful to anyone.

Mine is not the only opinion, thank God. In an article written for the NY Post Many people share their opinions. Writes one man" If she doesn't like what the government is doing with our money, she should oppose the government. She shouldn't stop saluting our flag."
This mirrors what one of her opponents, from the Merchant Marine Academy Basketball team, who says "I'm against the war, but the flag stands for more than war"

--I could not agree more with this statement, but, however misguided Toni is, she still has the right to exercise her freedoms. Few other countries boast this, let's not become one of them.

Another person writes " Why doesn't someone give Smith a one-way ticket to Iraq or any other Third World country and then ask her about the "inequities" in those societies?"

--Of course, this is just the mindless idiot I was talking about a tthe start of this essay. Who in the world is he to cast judgement and condemn someone, for (I might point out) casting judgement on America? Perhaps he should see if he would be allowed to express such sentiment without repricussion in Iraq.

Bret Wallace writes, " Smith has turned her back on the flag all season to protest her claim that "the government's priorities are not on bettering the quality of life for all of its people, but rather on expanding its own power."

As an American, I am appalled by her behavior, but I understand that she has the right to act this way. However, as an American, I have the right to know if my tax dollars are being used to pay for her education at Manhattanville College.

If that is the case, isn't the government bettering her quality of life?"

--He knows a little more than the last guy, but is mistaken to think he has "the right to know if [his] tax dollars are being used . . ." Under the Financial Discloser Policies of any college, he doesn't have that right. And to compare the most basic of our rights with invasion of privacy to prove a point is appaling. Have we, as a nation sunk so low?

Maybe not. In the same article two people sum things up very nicely. One writes, " Nikita Khrushchev once said "America will destroy itself from within." Smith is giving credence to his prediction.

Stop the media coverage, and she will fade away."

--Of course, I doubt he meant it that way, but Smith IS giving credence tohis prediction, by showing us how far our nation will go to argue with itself.

The other says, "Congratulations to Smith on her courage and maturity.

She represents the most precious values that made our country what it is - freedom of speech and expression.,"

We are lucky. A very lucky few, indeed. Many countries don't allow an open forum to voice opinion. Some countries would kill Toni for her protests. Yet we Americans seldom stop to realize how lucky we really are. Instead, we lower our heads, and ram them squarly into half truths and schemes, all in an effort to be heard and recognized, while claiming patriotism.

The beauty is, we have that right, too.

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