On Wednesday, Kansas Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who will face off in the GOP gubernatorial primary in August, jointly condemned the University of Kansas for a defaced American flag flown on the Lawrence campus.
Colyer called the flying of the flag “disrespectful,” adding it was “absolutely unacceptable” and that it should be removed immediately. Kobach called the flying of the flag “outrageous” and asserted, “The fact that they call it art does not make it any less of a desecration of our flag. I call upon the university to take down that flag right away.”
The defaced flag, which is emblazoned with two black abstract shapes as well as a black-and-white sock, is referred to as “Untitled (Flag 2), one of a series of flag displays started last fall as part of a project titled ‘Pledges of Allegiance.’”
Colyer stated he had expressed his outrage to university Chancellor Doug Girod and board of regents President Blake Flanders; the flag was taken down Wednesday afternoon. KU Chancellor Douglas Girod posted a message on KU’s website stating, “While we want to foster difficult dialogue, we cannot allow that dialogue to put our people or property in harm’s way. We have begun the process of relocating the exhibit to the Spencer Museum of Art, where we can continue the important conversation it has generated.”
University of Kansas spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said that the project had been funded with private money.
On Wednesday, before the statements from Colyer and Kobach, Steve Watkins, a combat veteran and GOP candidate for Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District, had stated that the “defaced American flag” was disrespectful to the military. He added, “To those who would trample, burn, or deface the flag, thank a soldier. It hurts me to see a defaced flag fly at the University of Kansas.”
According to the flag’s creator, Josephine Meckseper, it represented a deeply polarized country. The black and white sock in the corner “takes on a new symbolic meaning in light of the recent imprisonment of immigrant children at the border. … It’s about time for our differences to unite us rather than divide us.”