It's hard to think of Olive Garden as a "sympathetic" figure in America. They've got us all convinced that those cardboard breadsticks are the bomb, and it's just better not to talk about the drunken toddler debacle from April. And yet, the call for a boycott of America's favorite "Italian" chain because an Alabama restaurant refused to fly the American flag comes off as bullying in the name of patriotism.
The people angry that a Kiwanis Club in Alabama wasn't allowed to hang Old Glory in the middle of the restaurant are acting like the kid in the schoolyard who uses his fists to get his way instead of talking things out. What's patriotic about that?
On the surface, their concerns sound damning for the restaurant chain. The Calhoun County Kiwanis Club was holding a meeting, and they wanted to hang a flag so they could lead off with the Pledge of Allegiance. But when they approached the restaurant, the management said "sorry, no flags here" because it could "disrupt the dining experience" for other guests.
Holy affront to our flag, Batman! What's so disruptive about the nation's symbol?
Well, put in the wrong place, and a lot!
Just because we all (should) love our flag doesn't mean it belongs everywhere you go. Let me tell you, if I walk into a restaurant bathroom to find the flag, I'd be a bit perturbed ... on the flag's behalf. I don't want the sign that our service members fight for getting loaded down with eau de poo poo, if you know what I mean.
And over the years the proliferation of stars and stripes paraphernalia available for sale on the Internet has been hard for this patriot to take. Just one look at an American flag THONG should be all the proof you need that fighting for the right to have the flag everywhere you want it is not the same as it being right to have the flag everywhere.
Saying "don't use that flag there" doesn't mean you hate America. It means sometimes you have to use some discretion. Isn't that patriotic? To give the flag respect rather than propping it up willy-nilly?
The Alabama restaurant said this was an unfortunate side effect of a blanket policy put in effect to prevent just this sort of kerfuffle. The way they'd been told, NO flags or banners are allowed in restaurants unless they have a private meeting room -- the Calhoun County site doesn't -- and yes, that includes the American flag.
Makes sense, doesn't it? You wouldn't want, oh, the Nazi flag in your local Olive Garden? Or the Confederate flag?
Ironically, corporate headquarters said that isn't exactly the policy -- they took to Facebook to explain a miscommunication between corporate and the Alabama site created the snafu:
We do not have a policy at Olive Garden concerning bringing the American flag into our restaurants. Some members of our team were misinformed about company policy by our corporate office. As a company we take responsibility for that and we regret it ... we are correcting this so it doesn’t happen again. Like all Americans we have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the American flag and everything it symbolizes, and we welcome anyone who wishes to bring the flag into our restaurants. In fact, we periodically provide American flag collar pins to our employees to wear while serving guests.
They're sending their vice president down to Alabama to make amends. But here's hoping they're not too hard on the folks at the restaurant in Calhoun City while they're down there. They've had enough people beating up on them in the name of patriotism.
Do you think saying "no" to the American flag makes you a bad American? Is there room for restaurants like Olive Garden to make policies that exclude the flag?
Image via brittanylynae/Flickr