A month after September 11, students burned American flags at Amherst College. Sixteen years after the terrorist attacks, Amherst College students used the anniversary of thousands of Americans murdered to call Americans murderers.
Above Valentine Dining Hall on the Western Massachusetts campus, students hung a massive banner reading: “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” The quote comes from the late Howard Zinn, the author of A Peoples History of the United States who joined the Communist Party after serving aboard a bomber in World War II.
Beneath the Zinn quote, the banner announced: “In honor of those killed and displaced by America’s so-called ‘war on terror.’”
— Maximos N. Nikitas (@MaxNikitas) September 11, 2017
According to the Boston Herald, College Democrats President Alexander Deatrick called the massive banner a “more a comprehensive understanding of the tragedy of that day.”
The college did honor several graduates killed in the attacks on the anniversary and the town, after years of refusal, flew flags to commemorate the loss of life on 9/11. But the banner remained unmolested above the dining hall during the day. Administrators acknowledged the offensiveness of the timing of the message. But officials refused to take it down.
While local media ruminated over whether Monday’s insensitive signage reflected historical amnesia in those too young to remember the horror of 9/11, the school actually hosted a more extreme protest in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Students, from Hampshire College, according to Amherst College administrators, counter-protested a College Republicans’ “Rally for Patriotism” on October 18, 2001 by stomping on an American flag and burning two others. The school’s president took to the pages of the Boston Globe to defend freedom of speech after the flag desecrations.