by David Sisler

There are some things we have come to expect in recent days. Some of them are more noticeable because they are so incongruous in these heady times of national unity and almost unprecedented national patriotism.

We expect that certain critics will crawl out from under the rocks where they have hidden since terrorists struck on September 11, and restart their litany of "You're impinging on my civil rights."

We expect that supporters of terrorism will lie, equivocate and hinder America's just pursuit of the guilty.

We expect that the American flag will be defaced and burned in Afghanistan.

We did not expect that the American flag would come under attack in America. But come under attack it has.

In New York City, where the American flag has been flying everywhere, including on the safety helmets of rescue workers, we now learn that such displays are a violation of at least one company's policy.

According to CNS News correspondent Jeff McKay, Phyllis Burnett, the safety specialist for Con Edison, sent out an email instructing ConEd employees to remove the flag and "replace all defaced hard hats ASAP."

It is, Ms. Burnett says, a defacement of a company hard hat to put a flag decal on it or to paint a helmet red, white and blue. No, Ma'am, you are wrong. The rubble which your crews are cleaning up is a defacement. The body parts of murdered civilians, which crews are removing with great care and respect, is a defacement. Old Glory is not a defacement.

Now, I do understand that there is a safety issue involved. A decal or paint could hide a crack in a helmet and be a potential danger to the workers. But I also agree with Manny Hellen, president of the Utility Workers Union: "[Ms. Burnett's email] clearly sends out the wrong message to workers who have worked around-the-clock trying to restore electricity down there."

Ms. Burnett was not returning calls, but ConEd spokesman Joseph Petta said the company has ordered new helmets which have flags imprinted on them at the factory.

Con Edison is not alone in their anti-flag bias, McKay reports.

Employees of News 12 in NYC were told last week to take the American flag pins off their lapels while the reporters and anchors were on the air.

Pat Dolan, the senior vice president of news who ordered the ban, retracted the ban after the company's phones were deluged with viewer complaints.

Dolan released a prepared statement saying, "We love and respect the American flag and all it stands for. But the flag is also a powerful symbol that must be used wisely. That's why in my opinion, we need to be careful in using it when we're in public reporting the news."

Forrest Gump had it right. Stupid is as stupid does. The flag is a powerful symbol, Dolan says. So we must not wear it, Dolan says. At least while we are in front of a camera where its exposure could be a source of encouragement and hope. I hope everyone in the Big Apple switched channels.

Jeff McKay also reports that "in Florida, management of NCCI Holdings Inc. in Boca Raton told its employees that having the Stars and Stripes in the office might offend other staff and ordered flags be taken down. After their website was inundated with complaints and was forced to shut down for a short time, the ban against the flag was lifted."

If you hear of additional anti-flag bias, light up those switchboards. Flood those servers with emails. Keep Old Glory flying!

It is time this knee-jerk, we-don't-want-to-offend-anyone yellow-bellied anti-American bias took a permanent back seat. Better yet, it is time it gets off of the bus. If you don't like to see America's flag flying proudly, go to some other country. Maybe Afghanistan.


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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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