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The Peace Symbol Breeds Persecution of Students

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"People just turned on us like that…At least 10 boys stood up and yelled things at me at once, and we couldn't even walk through the halls without a harsh comment being made." –Lauren Lorraine, a high school student for peace

Students at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School have been waging a war on peace, as Local 6 News reports.

It all started when sophomore Skylar Stains decided to hold Peace Shirt Thursdays at the school. Skylar and her friend, Lauren Lorraine, started wearing peace shirts and soon recruited more friends to wear them. The group grew into the "Peace Shirt Coalition" and now has close to 30 students from all grades.

But nobody in the group expected the response they received, which involved persecution to the highest degree. The students describe the response:

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"Someone taped an 'I Love Bush' sign over my 'Wage Peace' sign," she said. "So I tore it down, threw it away, and the whole commons starting booing. I walk by later and find that someone has completely tore my sign down and placed an 'I Love America, Because America Loves War' sign up…

…Soon, a second group started to wear Confederate flag shirts to oppose the peace group, Skylar said. She saw shirts with sayings such as "This is America, get used to it," and "If peace is the answer; it must be a stupid question."

The lack of support from teachers, faculty and administrators has been poor and despicable. The school maintains the peace club has not submitted a written proposal with an identified sponsor for the establishment of a peace club. The members of the peace club say they have and were recently turned down. Therefore, at this point, the school takes a bureaucratic tone towards addressing the students’ persecution instead of taking a moral approach to addressing the situation.

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The peace sign in America has become the Star of David that was often yellow-colored and used by the Nazis during the Holocaust as a method of identifying and singling out Jews.

The peace sign has become a sign that you are anti-government or anti-establishment and are unpatriotic. Since when did it become unpatriotic to be for peace?

The peace sign became unpatriotic when “Support Our Troops” ribbons hit the bumpers of cars in America and refrigerators of Americans after the invasion of Iraq. The peace sign became unpatriotic when Americans began to tie yellow ribbons around tree trunks and around sign posts. It became unpatriotic when the yellow ribbon joined forces with the American flag to increase nationalism in this country, nationalism that would lend itself to supporting horrific deeds and events in this country.

The peace sign not only is unpatriotic but it is trivial. Few people can take the symbol seriously. The situation is so bad that students in this high school are responding to it by posting up swastikas, confederate flags, and slogans that elicit white supremacist ideas. Students are treating the peace symbol as a joke (I hope---if they truly feel this way and support all these symbols of hate, than we have a bigger problem) and met with this response, school faculty, staff, and administrators have no choice but to go on the defensive or remove the symbol for peace so that hateful messages posted as a joke are no longer posted on school property. Their defense could be the removal of posters with messages on them period so that debacles like this do not happen again.

When did the peace sign become political? The students did not put up anything about ending the Iraq war. They did not put up anything anti-Bush. They put up peace symbols and wore peace shirts. Yet, students took this to be political.

The school teachers and faculty have an obligation to talk to students who do not know any better than what they have heard from media about peace not being political and how it is bipartisan. They need to talk about peace being important in life. They need to express how serious peace can be for people in the world and why the fight for peace should never end.

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What needs to be asked of this situation is, “How successful are military recruiters at this school? Do students typically express interest in joining the military?” If one finds that the school is having more success than other schools across America, than this isn’t about a persecution like that of the Jews in Nazi Germany. This isn’t about people wearing symbols that aren’t seen as a symbol of pride for humanity but instead a denigrating symbol for America. This is about the militarization of our schools and how students are given know moral guidance from their teachers at all when making the choice to become killing machines for the world’s most supreme power.


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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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