Dr. James Moore, a professor of engineering at the University of Southern California, says he will not take down a Thin Blue Line-themed American flag from his office door because he believes blue lives are integral to protecting black lives.
What are the details?
In an interview with the College Fix, Moore — a self-described libertarian — said that he has faced heavy criticism for refusing to remove the flag from his door from both students and administrators.
A recent article in the school's Daily Trojan argued that the presence of the offending flag is causing a controversy among students who demand that the flag be removed.
One student told the outlet, “This is an inappropriate and unnecessary symbol to have on an office door where USC is, within the last year or two, trying to have a much broader diversity initiative and to be inclusive, especially in the STEM area.”
Another student griped, “I want them to take it down, and I want them to do something about Professor Moore, because this is not the first controversial thing he's done.”
Moore, who hung the flag earlier in the semester, said that his duty at the college is to teach students how to think critically.
“It's important,” he told the outlet. “Blue lives protect black lives, and black lives are not at risk from police — they are at risk from crime — and it's blue lives that stand between them and crime.”
He pointed out that a genuine diversity initiative ought to include more than just diverse backgrounds and races — it should include diverse thought.
“We are in an environment where there is a lot of homogenization of ideas, and diversity should include diversity of ideas,” Moore explained.
“[USC] is supposed to be a safe space for diversity of thought,” he continued. “We are charging people very good money to teach them to think,” Moore later added. “I am just trying to deliver.”
Moore explained that he was moved to hang the flag — and keep it on his door — for various reasons, including to dispute the notion that police are engaging in widespread targeting of black citizens. He also noted that the flag's presence is important for him to honor a family member, who recently retired as a police detective. Third, Moore explained, the flag is necessary because it speaks to the alarming rise in cities and municipalities calling to “defund the police” in the months following the police killing of George Floyd — months, he said, that have seen a 30% spike in homicide.
“All of that is attached to this flag, an unvarnished, objective look at what is happening in the U.S.,” he said. “We need the police to protect us.”
In a statement to the Daily Trojan, a spokesperson for the university defended Moore's right to continue hanging the flag on his office door.
“The university does not have a policy that limits the display of materials in spaces like this, though we are looking at whether it is needed,” the spokesperson said. “As part of the university's commitment to academic freedom, a faculty member can express his or her individual beliefs and viewpoints on a wide variety of topics — even controversial issues — but they do not speak on behalf of a school or the broader university.”
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