- The Washington Times - Friday, December 2, 2016

Former “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe had some frank words for students who attend expensive colleges and then trample the American flag to protest oppression.

Mr. Rowe penned a Facebook post Wednesday about Hampshire College, a private liberal arts college in Massachusetts that recently removed its American flag from campus amid tensions over Donald Trump’s Nov. 8 election win.

Mr. Rowe took particular aim at university President Jonathan Lash, who explained at the time that the decision to remove the flag would allow the school to “focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.”

“I couldn’t help but wonder if President Lash was unaware that billions of people around the world are routinely subjected to horrific levels of racism, misogyny, and bigotry that far exceed any injustice in modern-day America,” Mr. Rowe wrote. “Furthermore, I was curious to know if President Lash really believed that removing our flag is a better way to assuage the fears of his frightened students, than simply educating them about the undeniable fact that no country on the planet affords its citizens more liberty than this one?

“Here’s the problem. Tuition at Hampshire College is about $60,000 a year. That’s not a problem because it’s expensive – it’s a problem because 85% of Hampshire students qualify for some form of federal financial aid,” he continued. “That means that We the People are enabling schools like Hampshire to sell a liberal arts degree for approximately $250,000. With $1.3 trillion dollars of student debt currently on the books, I found myself thinking how nice it would be to hear a more persuasive argument from those who will happily take money from a country whose flag they despise.”

Mr. Rowe wondered why none of the students he routinely sees burning and desecrating American flags appear to attend a trade school.

“Last night on the tee-vee, as I flicked back and forth between my most trusted sources of cable news, I saw a number a college students setting fire to the American flag,” he wrote. “I turned the channel, and watched another group of students dance around another pile of burning flags at another expensive university. I couldn’t tell where they were, but occurred to me that wherever they were — it probably wasn’t a trade school. To my knowledge, no one has ever burned a flag at a trade school.”

Mr. Rowe then linked to an episode of his web short series, “Hot Under the Blue Collar,” that briefly explained why people who attend trade schools often end up doing very fulfilling work.

“In my experience, for what it’s worth, the many many hundreds of people that I’ve met — they’re happy,” he said in the video. “Because it’s meaningful. It’s meaningful work.”

His post has been viewed more than one million times.

At Hampshire College, three weeks after the American flag was removed from the Amherst campus, Mr. Lash ordered the flag to be raised again Friday morning.

“For us, we raise the flag as a symbol of our hopes for justice, fairness and freedom,” Mr. Lash said, The Boston Globe reported. “I hope this is not the end of the dialogue about these issues. The underlying issues are very important for the country.”

Anti-Trump students lowered the flag to half-staff the day after the Republican’s election. A day later, someone set it on fire. A flag went up again on Veterans Day, but it was again lowered to half-staff until Nov. 18, when Mr. Lash finally decided to remove it to “enable discussion.” The move prompted a wave of outside protests by veterans, The Globe reported.

Mr. Lash said the controversy has been a learning experience.

“This is what free speech looks like,” he said in a statement issued Thursday. “We believe in it, we will continue this work on campus, and we will look for ways to engage with our neighbors in the wider community.”

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