Angry flag-wavers are angry

18 06 2010

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My Flag Is NOT OffensiveDriving around Orlando lately, I’ve seen an increasing number of bumper stickers like the one shown at left, reading “My Flag Is NOT Offensive.”  Now, I may be a dirty fucking hippie (or DFH, in common parlance), but I’ve never thought of the American flag as offensive.  So I couldn’t really figure out what this apparent protest was, um, protesting.  Well, I did a few minutes of research, and I think I’ve figured it out.  Once again, it appears that the faux-patriotic flag-waving wingnuts, having run out of legitimate complaints, have created a controversy where there isn’t much of one at all.  (They sure are good at that…)  In this case, they’re trying to make rhetorical hay out of an incident that was forgotten by all sentient people long ago, but which the Wingnut Fringe sees as another Threat To Democracy and the American Way!!!!1!!one!!eleven!

The stickers are sponsored by K92, a local country (you were expecting any other format?) radio station, and they have been holding events like this one around central Florida to distribute them to the masses of their underinformed sheep listeners.  And if you dig into K92’s website far enough, you discover a blog (of sorts) featuring comments from all manner of spelling-and-grammar-challenged, knowledge-averse people.  If you lack tolerance for ignorance, you might want to avoid these excerpts (presented with no editing except for bracketed additions for clarification):

I am Paganistic and I am so pissed at they way this country is acting anymore! First they made us take the 10 commandments out of federal buildings because they offended people well that is what this country was based on first freedom of religion then they were gonna take in God we trust off of the coins like I said I am paganistic and and it didn’t offend me if I didn’t want to read it I had that Right. Now someone has the nerve to say that Our flag is offensive. Well every country has a flag so I say If you don’t like ours go back to the country that flies the flag you do like. If you don’t like how things are in your own country than fix it do not come to our country and try to make it what you want. Don’t mess up our country with your whining eat some crackers and cheese and go home!!!!!!

*****

All I want to say is if you don’t look at this and want to start singing God Bless The USA then you need to move somewhere else far away. I can’t wait to proudly honor my Flag not only for myself but for my son who is a LCPL in the Marine Core currently fighting for our freedom. Whether you agree or disagree about the war, there should be no disagreement about what our Flag stands for so, wave it tall abd proud forevermore.

*****

I would like to thank the crew giving the bumper stickers out in Deltona for letting me get mine early. they didn’t start till 7:00 and i was there at about 6:30, because I have dialysis during the give out times and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to get some. I am proud to be an AMERICAN. Also my truck radio never ever leaves your station. I love the things that [K92 morning show hosts] Doc and Grace comment on mostly because others are to scared to challenge things. thanks again for being so straight forward. I love it. If you don’t like this country and support it, go back to your own countries.

So far, nothing new under the sun.  I read wild-eyed, bigoted, xenophobic wingnuttery all the time, and this actually is pretty tame as the genre goes.  But next came the comment that clued me in on what really was happening here:

If we can’t wear a tshirt with our flag on it on Cinco De Mayo, does that mean that we will see NO MEXICAN FLAGS flying on July 4th???

Aha! So that’s what this is all about!  Yes, K92 is using the minor, isolated controversy over American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo as an excuse to rile up their frothing-at-the-mouth “American patriot” listeners … and, conveniently, to promote their own station in the process.  You remember that controversy, don’t you?  Well, most of us don’t…but back on May 5, several students at a largely Hispanic high school near San Jose, Calif., wore T-shirts featuring the Stars and Stripes on a day when many of their classmates were celebrating their Mexican heritage, and the assistant principal (himself Hispanic) told the students to turn their shirts inside-out or go home.  A Google News search reveals that a few articles bounced around the Internet in the immediate aftermath of the incident, but since then, it’s only been the right-wing teabagger types and their mainstream media enablers at places like Fox News, the Washington Times, and the Boston Herald who have tried to make the pie higher on this non-newsworthy non-controversy.

No, K92 fanatics, your flag — and mine — indeed is NOT offensive.  But your manipulation of a single incident to promote the recurrent subtext that liberals cannot possibly be patriotic actually IS pretty offensive.  To put it even more simply: if you feel you have to wave a flag and openly declare yourself a “patriot,” then you really aren’t one at all.





Troubling trend: Florida public schools being “sponsored” by churches, gun dealers

16 06 2010

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The assault on non-sectarian public education in Florida continues.  In Polk County, for example, schools have sought money from the community to make up for funding deficits.  That’s all well and good on the surface, I suppose, but when churches are stepping up to give money and the principal sees it as a great way to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, well, that becomes a problem.  A BIG problem.

At Combee Elementary [in Lakeland], funding for basic school supplies is down 33%, says principal Steve Comparato. In recent months, he’s received donations from a local fertilizer company and a grocery chain. But Combee’s most active sponsor is First Baptist Church at the Mall, a 9,000-member congregation that uses golf carts to shuttle worshippers from its palm-tree-filled parking lot to its main chapel, which used to be a Sam’s Club.

Last fall, a school staffer who worships at the church told pastors about the school’s plight. In a visit to Combee shortly thereafter, Mr. [Dave] McClamma, the church’s senior associate pastor of evangelism and missions, offered to start by opening a “resource room” stocked with supplies.

“I said, ‘Amen,'” recalls Mr. Comparato [again, this is the principaled.]. “This was like a prayer answered.”

While Combee gained resources, the church gained access to families. At Christmas, the school connected the church with parents who said they wouldn’t mind being visited at home by First Baptist. The church brought gifts, food and the gospel. Of about 30 families visited over two weekends in December, 13 “came to the Lord,” says Mr. McClamma, a 58-year-old motorcycle buff who drives a black sports-utility vehicle with the bumper sticker “Christ First.”

Mr. McClamma says adopting Combee goes far beyond providing resources like school supplies. “The purpose is to show them the church cares, and that there is hope, and hope is found in Jesus Christ.”

“If they want to come in and help, who am I to say no?” says Mr. Comparato, the principal.

He says he would welcome congregations of any faith as sponsors, but adds of his students, “My personal conviction is that I hope through this they’ll know Jesus and they’ll get saved.”

*****

On a recent muggy afternoon at the school, the lanky, 57-year-old principal strode down outdoor walkways painted with cougar paws (for the Combee mascot) with two pastors from First Baptist.

“Can I have a word of prayer with you?” asked Pastor McClamma. The principal, his assistant and the two pastors from First Baptist stood in a circle outdoors, outside the main office. Pastor McClamma asked for “Combee Elementary, Lord, just to excel.”

To her credit, Polk County schools superintendent Gail McKinzie responded to questions about Comparato’s on-the-job proselytizing by making it clear he could hope for anything he wants, but he can’t push the Christian faith in the public schools.  It would seem from the apparently routine organized prayers on school property, though, that Comparato either isn’t getting the message, or he doesn’t care.  And the pastor pulls no punches, admitting that the purpose of his church’s sponsorship of Combee is specifically to bring students to Jesus Christ.

If this doesn’t bother you, then you’re not paying attention.  And moreover, if the church’s involvement doesn’t worry you, then how about this one (from the same article):

Frostproof Elementary [also in Polk County] asks local businesses to sponsor classrooms, in return for promotion on the school marquee. Among those that stepped in is Rogers & Walker Gun Shop, which earned billing for donations totaling $300 to two classes.

That’s right, folks — a gun shop essentially bought advertising on a public school marquee.  Pretty much my only response is, “WTF?!?”  You can argue all you want that so-called “Christian values” are A-OK in the classroom (and I will vehemently disagree), but all people should be shocked and dismayed that a school is promoting firearms.  Seriously — am I missing something here?

Now, to be fair, not every state is as batshit crazy as Florida in this regard.  In California’s San Diego Unified School District, the chief district relations officer says, “We wouldn’t put tobacco or anything objectionable to young minds.”  Does this include guns?  I certainly hope so….I only wish certain districts in Florida were as committed to avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.  But when it comes to God and guns, I guess anything goes in our public schools.

(h/t Madfloridian)





Manatees helping manatees

12 06 2010

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Although the infamous Deepwater Horizon oil blowout is in the Gulf of Mexico, west of Florida, residents of the state’s eastern coast are taking notice as well. Scientists are speculating that in the weeks to come, predominant ocean currents could carry oil, with its slicks and and sheens and tar mats and balls, through the Keys, around the peninsula, and up the Atlantic seaboard well beyond the Sunshine State’s shores.

One Florida group is taking a novel approach to protesting BP’s environmental destruction and subsequent efforts to spin their way out of the public opinion doghouse. The Brevard County Manatees, members of the Class A Florida State League and affiliates of the major league Milwaukee Brewers, play their home games at Space Coast Stadium (above) in Viera, Fla., about 40 miles east of Orlando and just north of Melbourne, midway along Florida’s Atlantic coast. Recognizing the potential impact of the oil on their community, the Manatees have decided, in their own unique way, to take a symbolic stand.

In [light] of recent events regarding the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill of the Gulf Coast of the United States, the Brevard County Manatees have announced that the club will be officially changing the name of “batting practice” or “BP” for short to “hitting rehearsal”.

“As an organization we feel that changing the term ‘batting practice’ and ‘BP’ to ‘hitting rehearsal’ shows that we are deeply concerned and hurt by the disaster on the Gulf Coast,” Manatees General Manager Kyle Smith said.

“We hope to send a message to the community that we are definitely worried with the pollution that is in the waters off the Gulf Coast and its potential impact on the beaches here in Brevard County.”

Perhaps in the grand scheme of things, the Manatees’ gesture is insignificant. Certainly the article’s commenters seem particularly strident in their insistence that the team’s protest is a tempest in a teapot — no doubt many of them still proudly display their “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” bumper stickers (which, believe it or not, I still see occasionally as I drive around the state). But at a time when all Floridians (or at least all those still a safe distance from the abyss of right-wing insanity) are keeping a wary eye on the Gulf and the BP fiasco has completely reversed their earlier solid support of offshore drilling, any effort to draw public attention to the true perpetrators of this quite unnatural disaster can help offset the blame game from the Right, who hypocritically point their gnarled fingers at the White House or anyone else with a “D” after his or her name in a desperate attempt to shield their oil baron pals — and themselves — from accountability for this crime against our planet.

And maybe by this small — you might even say minor — act, the Brevard County Manatees can help protect their gentle, seafaring namesakes from the ghastly fate that already has befallen so many other creatures.

(cross-posted at Alan Colmes’ Liberaland)