Emma Gonzalez isn't endorsing communism, she's living her truth

Some Republican ideologues are grasping at straws to try and impugn the character of ...

Posted: Mar 29, 2018 9:08 AM
Updated: Mar 29, 2018 9:08 AM

Some Republican ideologues are grasping at straws to try and impugn the character of Emma Gonzalez, the fiercely outspoken young woman who has become a leading voice of the gun control movement since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month.

Perhaps the most confounding attack came from Iowa Rep. Steve King, who suggested Gonzalez was expressing support for a communist dictatorship by wearing a Cuban flag patch on her jacket during the March For Our Lives rally in Washington.

Putting aside for a moment the real possibility that King's statement was merely a cynical ploy to distract the American public from the real issue at hand -- the urgent need for stricter gun control laws -- his comment betrays a lack of understanding about the meaning of the Cuban flag (and, for that matter, about most flags displayed outside their country of origin).

The Cuban flag is not a symbol of political orientation, as King suggests, but rather a sign of national belonging, independent of ideological belief. And one reason King and many Americans don't understand this is because the American flag has come to represent for many a specific ideology that some consider xenophobic or militaristic.

While it's preposterous to argue that a symbol representing a whole nation of people could ever mean only one thing, a clear contrast exists between the contemporary connotations of the Cuban and American flags respectively: the first is tied to ethnic identity while the second is tied to political ideology.

While for many the American flag stands for patriotism, national pride, military might or American exceptionalism (research has shown that exposure to the flag increases feelings of nationalism), the display of many other national flags often signals a sense of ethnic pride, particularly when they're displayed in the diaspora.

And this is where Emma Gonzalez's decision to wear a Cuban flag comes in. Following Rep. King's comments, she and her family felt a need to explain this decision, which they did via Florida Rep. (and Cuban-American famous for her opposition to the Castro regimes) Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who tweeted that Miami is filled with Cuban-American homes that proudly fly the Cuban flag, independent of their feelings about the government in Havana.

In fact, both supporters and critics of the Cuban revolution have historically utilized the Cuban flag for their own purposes. Exhibit A: images of Miami and Cuba reacting to the news that Fidel Castro had died. In the first, mass celebration; in the second, mass mourning.

Not only is the Cuban flag not representative of political ideology, but it was also not even designed by a Cuban. As Cuban-American historian Andr-s Pertierra commented on Twitter, "The flag wasn't created in 1959. In fact, it has its origins in the annexationist movement of the 19th century!"

The design for the Cuban flag was conceived of in 1850 by a Venezuelan general, Narciso L-pez, who was living in the US at the time. While L-pez's ultimate goal was Cuban independence from Spain (and not necessarily Cuban annexation to the US), he courted both Southern (pro-slavery) and Northern (pro-abolition) annexationists to gain support for his anti-colonial uprisings in Cuba.

The Cuban flag has been used to represent a wide range of political ideologies and projects in the past two centuries: annexation to the US, independence from Spain, Cuban socialism and anti-communist sentiment by Cuban exiles. And now it's been utilized by a young Cuban-American fighting for gun control who identifies as bisexual and whose appearance challenges widely accepted notions of femininity in the US and Cuba. It has appeared at the March for Our Lives.

Consider in contrast the use of the flag surrounding Colin Kaepernick's protest, in which the then-49ers quarterback refused to stand during the singing of the National Anthem in order to protest police brutality. Kaepernick himself drew a link between the American flag and institutional racism when he stated, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

Kaepernick's actions were predictably met with fervent critique by right-wing conservatives. Even after Kaepernick was effectively blackballed by NFL owners, other NFL players continued to kneel and were met by one of President Trump's infamous tirades, calling them "sons of bitches" and suggesting they should be fired for "disrespecting the flag."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is not known for his liberal views, disputed that players were trying to be disrespectful to the flag: "They're talking about equality issues, making sure that we're doing everything we possibly can to give people an opportunity."

Meanwhile, Kaepernick's actions and the movement he started were lauded by a slew of progressive groups and figures beyond the sports world, including Women's March leader Tamika Mallory and the NAACP. Although Kaepernick and his supporters ultimately clarified that it was not the American flag he was protesting, but rather institutional racism, the flag became a stand-in for ideological debates over patriotism itself.

This isn't the case for the Cuban flag, which has been deployed by both poles of the political spectrum and whose meaning has been perhaps more contested since 1959 than at any other time in Cuba's history.

The Cuban flag does not exclusively represent socialism, Fidel or Ra-l Castro, or anti-communist sentiment. It represents Cubanidad, a sense of belonging to and pride in the experience of being Cuban.

Rep. King had nothing to say when hundreds of Miami Cubans went out into the street waving Cuban flags to celebrate Fidel Castro's death, so I can only assume his decision to mock Gonzalez's deployment of the Cuban flag was a politically motivated attempt to undermine her powerful statements on gun control.

West Lafayette
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Kokomo
Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 60°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 59°
Fowler
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
Williamsport
Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 62°
Crawfordsville
Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 61°
Frankfort
Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 61°
Delphi
Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 61°
Monticello
Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 61°
Logansport
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 59°
Wet, then drier with very warm to hot & humid weather.....
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 735462

Reported Deaths: 13480
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1006161752
Lake54169976
Allen40913680
St. Joseph36301553
Hamilton35807408
Elkhart28815442
Tippecanoe22464219
Vanderburgh22367397
Porter18921310
Johnson18063381
Hendricks17310315
Clark13032192
Madison12754339
Vigo12497249
LaPorte12073215
Monroe11945170
Delaware10750187
Howard9985218
Kosciusko9463117
Hancock8367142
Bartholomew8096156
Warrick7797155
Floyd7686178
Grant7094174
Wayne7069199
Boone6740101
Morgan6606139
Dubois6165117
Marshall6108112
Cass5886105
Dearborn583178
Henry5779105
Noble565084
Jackson503473
Shelby494196
Lawrence4591120
Gibson436892
Harrison436472
DeKalb430485
Clinton428453
Montgomery425789
Whitley397939
Huntington394280
Steuben391057
Miami383768
Knox372890
Jasper372049
Putnam363360
Wabash355280
Adams342655
Ripley340870
Jefferson331881
White316854
Daviess298399
Wells292081
Decatur285992
Fayette281962
Greene280485
Posey272034
LaGrange268870
Scott267454
Clay261147
Washington242132
Randolph242081
Spencer232731
Jennings230949
Starke218954
Fountain213746
Sullivan212242
Owen203056
Jay197630
Fulton196140
Carroll190220
Orange184454
Perry184437
Rush174025
Vermillion170044
Franklin168435
Tipton163345
Parke146716
Pike135334
Blackford135132
Pulaski117345
Newton108834
Brown102641
Crawford101415
Benton99014
Martin89515
Warren82615
Switzerland7948
Union71410
Ohio57111
Unassigned0417

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events