Restaurant's 'Flag Ban' Isn't Un-American


american flagIt'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

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This happened in my hometown of Oxford-- I think that the ladies should have followed rules without making a fuss. I doubt anyone would have fussed if one of them had held a small flag to say the pledge.

I would never go to a restaurant and assume I could hang anything on their walls. Of course, these are older ladies who think they run the town..... I guess I will too when I'm that age!

OllieK OllieK

Obviously, Jeanne, you resent the American flag and probably much of what it stands for. The representative of the Kiwanis Club was not looking to hang the flag "in the middle of the restaurant", nor in the bathroom, whatever the point of that comment was.  And to compare the American flag to the Nazi flag betrays your disdain for America.  If a restaurant books a group for a club awards banquet, it is ridiculous for them to claim that hanging a flag might disrupt someone's dining experience when there's a banquet going on there for crying out loud.  If the flag is respectfully displayed, as I'm sure the Kiwanis Club would have done, and this disrupts anyone's experience at anything, then why would you defend such a person.  If that person can't stand to be in the presence of the flag for God's sake, that person should just leave.  Period.  You are just another politically correct wacko who is destroying this fine country by spewing your sick beliefs in these pages. People need to make up their own minds about how Olive Garden treated the Kiwanis Club who paid to use their facilities for an awards banquet, but for my money, I am going somewhere else.  You may see it as "bullying in the name of patriotism", but that is only because true patriots make you nauseous since you don't see what's so great about this country, and you resent having true patriotism in your face.  A true patriot has the opposite reaction to the one you had.

nonmember avatar RWS

Are you really trying to associate the American flag with a Nazi flag? Really? Come on now. Wait, there's put the Confederate flag as an equal to a Nazi flag also. You my friend, making those comments, expose YOU as the un-American in the room. Olive Garden is a private establishment and should be able to have whatever rules they want. Now that the rule has been exposed, people can choose whether they want to be a patron there. It's as simple as that. The only one that loses in your whole slanted article, is you.

nonmember avatar Dbs2k

I feel this issue of "patriotism" is blown out of proportion. If someone disagrees with anything to do with displaying the American flag, automatically they're labeled as anti-american. Not true, in this case I think Olive Garden was trying to educate the Kiwanis Club on courtesy. So like any unforgiving american, they filed a complaint and decided to spin the incident to anti-americanism out spite to hurt a business. Instead not every american eats their dinner to the star spangled banner, some people actually like some silence or conversation, and the Olive Garden was being respectful to the rest of their guests , regardless if the Kiwanis Club was the majority in the restaurant. Being a better person is better than being an american. I just hope we can combine both and stop being so trivial about such things as hanging a flag in a restaurant.

nonmember avatar Vince Kasprzak

Jeanne, I have never heard a more convoluted, obfuscated, tangential argument. You are likely a progressive liberal socialist, not a patriot. Pride in America is obviously an anathema to you. Your liberal attempt to discourage pride of flag and country in the name of political correctness (or cowardice) is transparent and ineffective. Spew your nonsense somewhere else, perhaps Cuba.

Lisa Moore

I never eat at the Olive Garden anyway, I hate it. Myself and several people I know have gotten food poisining at different times all in different chains of that place.

Crims... CrimsonRain

I'm going to go around to all your houses and tattoo the flag on your foreheads.  Starting with you, OllieK.  And if you refuse, I'll tell everyone you're not a true patriot.

There was absolutely no comparison made between the American flag and the Nazi flag.  The purpose of that statement was to say that the no-flags policy applies to all; it's not anti-American.  If not for such a rule, then the local chapter of Neo-Nazis could rent some tables and put up their flag too.  Would you like that?  That's what she meant.

Agreeing that an INTERNATIONAL restaurant has the right to refuse banners or flags of any kind does not make the author unpatriotic.  Not everyone has to meet your level of obsession to qualify as a patriot.  You don't know this person, what she does or what she believes.  So lay off.

nonmember avatar Jessie

First of all, I agree that no flag should be displayed in a restaurant, for the same reason that I oppose prayer in schools. I wouldn't want to have to pray to a religion I didn't believe in, or to look at a flag that might offend me and ruin my dining experience. It doesn't mean that I dislike the flag or am unpatriotic- it simply means that I want everyone to enjoy their meal as much as I do. Also, there is nothing unpatriotic about a moderate dislike of one's country. If I recall, our founding fathers didn't like the country they were born in too much either. Dissent IS patriotic.

Bar Jr K

Wow,Olive Garden are you going to do the same thing with your Red Lobster restaurants and longhorn restaurants. Banning the American flag and even thinking about the Nazi flag should of never came up,but see how your thinking is on America. best thing I hope we all get together and boy cot your business for UN-Americana beliefs KBclovisnm

Bar Jr K

I have to add on to this .The more I think about this the madness builds for you bringing up the Nazi flag that represents the killing of Millions of Jews don't ever compare the American flag to Nazi flag. .Our American flag Has stars for all it's states and the stripes are for our colonies who fought for this country and now we have to defend our flag every second because of none thinkers like Olive Garden has.kb

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