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Don’t be afraid to wear your MAGA hat on campus

Or any other political symbol, for that matter

Two illustrative events out of the academy over the past week.

First, across the street from the University of Florida, a student was assaulted for wearing a Make America Great Again Hat on July Fourth. In the physical altercation he was pushed, had a pin ripped off his shirt, and nearly had his hat stolen.

Meanwhile, at Gonzaga University, a law professor wrote about a student wearing a MAGA hat in class; that professor called the hat an “undeniable symbol of white supremacy” and openly speculated, without evidence, that the student wore the hat as an act of racial antagonism.

Here is a counterpoint to these depressing and overwrought incidents: If you want to wear your MAGA hat on campus, do it. Don’t be afraid to do so.

The same goes for any political symbol, even the more insane ones like the Soviet hammer-and-sickle or whatever anarcho-communist insignia Antifa is currently using. In the United States, such behavior is considered protected speech, and you can (or at least should be able to) engage in it freely, without fear of being assaulted and/or baselessly slandered. (If you’re wearing something truly poisonous like a Nazi swastika, of course, you can expect to be pilloried wherever you go, and deservedly so. But it is of course profoundly silly to equate a swastika with a Trump hat.)

There will always be histrionic and hysterical people, of course — those who, say, see a harmless political slogan like “Make America Great Again” and assume, on the basis of apparently no evidence whatsoever, that you are a white supremacist. It is a profound shame that many of those individuals are professors, administrators and high-ranking staff members at our colleges and universities.

Our universities should be places of radical socio-political equality, where community members can feel secure in expressing their political beliefs without being unfairly attacked. For now, don’t be cowed into shutting up on campus. You might be unpopular, but that’s infinitely better than being browbeat and bullied into silence.

MORE: Liberal college profs aren’t the problem; it’s the liberal administrations

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