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Conservatives Outraged After College Professor Critiques Pro-National Anthem Paper


Conservatives on the internet are multiple shades of livid after a college paper arguing against national anthem protests was critiqued by a college professor as part of a college writing course.

Twitter user and Kent State University (KSU) student Leandra Lynn (@leandralynnw) highlighted the paper along with the objectionable criticism in a Twitter post on Wednesday afternoon. She later reposted those same objections verbatim on her Facebook page exactly three hours later.

Lynn’s tweet is quickly gaining traction on Twitter due to conservatives and right-wing users on the site echoing the original post’s outrage. The tweet is also being shared by quite a few liberals and leftists–seemingly in order to mock its contents.

Written for Kent State’s College Writing II course (taught by Professor Mary Owens), the paper is titled “Standing Up For Freedom” and appears to run about two and a half pages in length.

The student-author begins by happily reflecting upon their youth and obedience to the American ritual of standing for the national anthem. The author quickly pivots to grief over people who, they claim,  disrespected the national anthem ritual by talking over it at high school football games.

The author’s grief is then transformed into outrage by the time they become a university student at Kent State due to the national conversation regarding the #TakeAKnee protests held during the performance of the national anthem at NFL games–and subsequent attempts by fellow Kent State students to protest in solidarity with those athletes.

The paper is edited and lightly critiqued throughout, but it doesn’t take long into the essay before the professor offers substantive rhetorical critiques–and it’s these rhetorical critiques that form the basis of the outraged conservative reaction and the sarcastic response to that reaction.

One of the offending critiques is the professor’s attempt to distinguish between the paper’s thesis on the alleged impropriety of national anthem protests and the student-author’s inclusion of a brief soliloquy regarding the U.S. flag. The author writes:

The flag means many things to many people, but to me it is something more. The United States flag is a symbol of freedom, commitment, honor, bravery, sacrificial love and dedication…The flag was designed showing the strength of the thirteen original colonies, in the stripes, and the fifty states, in the stars, showing the unity and progress of them. I stand for a flag of freedom.

In response to this paragraph–cited in part immediately above–the professor uses side brackets to note, “Does not relate to thesis.” Additionally, by using an arrow in blue ink to highlight the sentence where the conflation is made, the professor writes, “The flag is an issue apart from the N.A.”

Another of the professor’s seemingly offensive critiques is a suggestion against using the rhetorical device known as generalization. In a section of the paper arguing why people should stand for the performance of the national anthem, the student writes:

I believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. I would think that statement alone would be enough to convince people to stand, but unfortunately it is not. I believe everyone should stand because everyone knows someone who has risked it all.

The professor marks up the paper thusly: by underlining the final instance of the word “everyone” in the excerpt above and writing, “do not generalize.”

In later posts, Lynn asserted that she is not the author of the paper in question and said the student who wrote the paper “did pretty well,” but doubled-down on her criticism, calling the professor’s comments “appalling.”

Law&Crime reached out to Lynn for further comment on this story, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.

[image via Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images/screengrab/Twitter]
Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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