I’ve never been to California in my life. In fact, my only West Coast experience was a river-rafting trip in Idaho — hardly the world Tupac Shakur so vividly portrayed in his works. So when I think of California, I still envision it, as I’m sure many people do, as either a Gangsta’s Paradise Lost or a modern day Gidget episode where everyone owns a surfboard, drives a dune buggy, and is close personal friends with one of the Beach Boys.
Then, while looking at the pictures in my pop-up books, I learned of another place called Berkeley, Calif., where the people are apparently so leftist they eat their overpriced organic food with a hammer and sickle. Recently, an ordinance was issued in Berkeley that somehow flies in the leftist bastion, but with the rest of the country, it’s about as popular as naming your recently born child “Osama.”
Last week, local firefighters in Berkeley were ordered by the city to remove American flags from their trucks because they offended “non-flag-waving types.” This disgraceful edict by the city of Berkeley naturally begs a few questions in this time of national unity: First, what kind of firemen are these that bow to such an unpatriotic fiat? Aren’t firemen supposed to be strong, manly and dripping with American pride, sweat and testosterone? (The ones on my calendar sure are) Second, how could the city manager issue that ordinance after such an egregious act of evil had been perpetrated against our country?
Now I don’t know who these “non-flag-waving” types are in Berkeley, but they’re probably the same pseudo-Marxist, privileged space cadets who think they’re saving the world by wearing hemp pants and whining about corporations, not realizing the hypocrisy in lambasting an economic superstructure that provides them with the very freedom to lambaste at all. It’s not shocking then to find out that these “non-flag-wavers” are also the very same people venturing out in their SUVs to battle the harsh downtown Berkeley climate in order to go door to door preaching against the United States’ military retaliation to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
While these ineffectual neo-hippies wander around neighborhoods and college campuses trying to garner support for their now debunked “peaceful response,” the rest of us without our heads lodged in our nether regions are thinking of all the different permutations of footwear we could wear when kicking Osama bin Laden in the groin. I immediately think of the steel-toed boots my father passed on to me when I became a man.
“Son,” he said, with a knowing, fatherly glean in his one good eye, “Wear these boots when working around heavy machinery. And also wear them when kicking crazed militants where it hurts. Now get in the car — we’re going hunting.”
On the other end of the flag-waving spectrum, I attended the Jets-49ers game at the Meadowlands Monday night in New Jersey. As Luther Vandross finished the Star Spangled Banner in front of the fully-uniformed members of the NYPD and FDNY, the capacity crowd erupted into a maelstrom of Red, White and Blue, waving miniature American flags and chanting with beautiful cadence and synchronicity “U.S.A! U.S.A!” The effect was positively overwhelming. My eyes teared up, my throat constricted, and I felt, even through all of my youthful cynicism, a genuine patriotic galvanization.
I don’t want to sound like I’m disparaging the idea of peaceful retaliation, for many times in history, it has been an effective and logical response. But when crazy men fly planes into the offices and buildings where my family and friends are working, I tend to hate the people who are responsible for it, and I am generally glad to see them dealt with in an extremely violent manner.
To protest and voice an opinion is a crucial, inalienable right in our country, but in the wake of such a viciously violent attack on our country and our safety, a movement for peace at this point makes about as much sense as a lemonade stand on the New Jersey Turnpike. So to all you “non-flag-wavers,” you unpatriotic bozos, unfurl your flags and wave them for your fallen countryman and for your country, before I break out those steel-toed boats.
John Phillips is a senior in Timothy Dwight College.