Patriotism is in. On Sept. 13, two days after the terrorist attacks that shook our nation to its core, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution encouraging each citizen and every community in the nation, for a period of 30 days, to “display the flag of the United States at homes, places of work and business, public buildings and places of worship to remember those individuals who have been lost and to show the solidarity, resolve and strength of the Nation.”
The official period of mourning has come and gone but Old Glory is still in her glory. Americans can’t get enough of the red, white and blue. Flags fly in our yards, decorate our homes, offices, lampposts, doorways windows and billboards. We are wearing them on our hats and lapels, suspending them from bridges and buildings, flying them on our car antennas. No self-respecting red-blooded American wants to be without one.
In the aftermath of this tragedy, there was a period where U.S. flags were in short supply. As a result, there was some ugly price gouging, similar to what we’ve seen in the aftermath of earthquakes and hurricanes in the scramble to obtain water and batteries.
The flag crunch has come and gone. While many U.S. flag companies were caught off guard, flags again are plentiful and cheap – too cheap. That’s because most of the flags now being sold have a “Made in China” label.
Flag factories in China, which already enjoys an $83.8 billion a year trade surplus with the U.S., have been working overtime since the tragedy. The Mei Li Hua Flags Company in Shanghai received orders for more that 500,000 flags from customers in the United States in the week following the disasters at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In neighboring Zhejiang province, orders for the Stars and Bars coming into the Jin Teng Flag Company from U.S. customers topped 600,000.
Meanwhile, Chinese electronic bulletin boards and those at the country’s two most prestigious universities were filled with anti-American messages. “We’ve been bullied by America for too long!” said one typical message at Beijing U. ‘I’m happy, not because I support terrorism, I’m happy because I hate America,” said another. “America deserves it. They did so many terrible things in the past. It’s good treatment for American hegemony,” still another. By the end of the month, in preparation for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Chinese authorities ordered all such statements be deleted from the sites.
Last Friday, in Shanghai, President Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin stood side by side and announced a new “constructive and cooperative” relationship based on their common interests in fighting terrorism. Don’t be fooled. We must understand that each of these men has a different idea of what constitutes terrorism. What China’s president is looking for is permission to wage his own brand of terror against the Uighurs in Xinjiang Province, formally known as East Turkestan, who are engaging in a just struggle for freedom from Beijing’s tyrannical rule. China also wants us to look the other way at its attempts to isolate Taiwan, crush Tibet and persecute the practitioners of Falun Gong, Christians and other people of faith.
The red in our flag stands for hardness and courage, the kind our forefathers displayed when they stood against oppression. In China, oppression is a way of life. The red is for the blood of martyrs and for the many Chinese women and children who have died as a result of the country’s brutal practice of forced abortion and outright infanticide in the enforcement of its “one child” policy
The blue in our flag is for vigilance, perseverance and justice. There is no real justice system in China, where people are arrested and tortured and their homes bulldozed for worshiping God and refusing to bow down to the state.
The white in our flag is for purity and innocence. In China, white is the color of the faces of the slaves in the laogai. That is the Chinese name for the harsh prison labor camps where godly men and women are sent and forced to work to make many of the things we Americans now enjoy at bargain-basement prices.
The freedom we enjoy came at a price. The flags we wave should not come from a country that has institutionalized slavery. Our flags should not be purchased on the cheap.