Two Miami-Dade County firefighters refused to ride on a fire engine carrying the American flag, saying Old Glory was offensive,reports The Associated Press.

The two firefighters, one an engine driver and the other a firefighter, showed up for work one morning last weekend, saw the flag on the truck and refused to ride, telling crew members that the flag represented oppression.
The crew chief then ordered the flag's removal so that the seven-member unit could answer 911 calls, said Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue spokesman Lt. Louie Fernandez.

Blessing in New Jersey

A Roxbury, N.J. school superintendent who ordered signs with the slogan “God Bless America” removed and replaced with "Stand Up for America" and "Proud to be American" said he was merely trying to be fair to those who refer to God as Allah and other names, reports the Associated Press.

But he immediately rescinded the ban after a slue of callers branded him as unpatriotic and hostile to religion.

The school board president says the original decision was made out of respect for the First Amendment — and not intended to diminish concern for the issues facing the country in the wake of the terrorist attacks. And the principal himself says he's actually very religious and patriotic.


Pride in Florida

Librarians at a Florida university have been told not to wear “I’m Proud to be an American” stickers to work because they might offend some of the 200 or so foreign students attending school there, reports the Ft. Myers News-Press.

The director of the library told staffers they can put the stickers on computers or in their cubicles, but not on their clothing while they are at the reference desk.

Alumni and students of the school protested the decision, saying showing support for the United States is appropriate under the circumstances. “We’re in a crisis and I think people should be allowed to say they’re proud,” student Garon Skender told the paper. “This whole thing is all about our freedom.”

'Flag of Repression'

The constant flag-waving of late is making some activists on the left coast nervous, reports the Los Angeles Times. They are torn, the paper says, between their desire to show solidarity and the implication that such displays are an implicit endorsement of war and the government.

One Los Angeles educator tells the paper he has no intention of the flying the flag. "I grew up suspicious of the flag," he said. "It meant right-wing politics. It meant repression. It meant arrogance. It meant, 'We're the greatest.'"

Another, a Venice political activist, said, "Haven't people learned anything in the last 30 years? Haven't they been watching what America has been doing around the world? Instead of feeling humility and compassion, it seems like the flag is being flown to just arrogantly continue what we've been doing."

And  Ira Glass, the Chicago-based host of Public Radio International's "This American Life," said he was also struggling with the issue. "The first day [after the attacks], it felt like waving a flag was an act of mourning," he said. "But now that we're going to war ... waving a flag feels like giving carte blanche to Congress and the president to do whatever. And I don't believe that."

Offending the Enemy

A restaurant in Chapel Hill, N.C. was forced to remove a banner proclaiming "God Bless America, Woe to Our Enemies" attached to its second-story balcony after some Town Council members complained about its tone, reports The Herald-Sun.

In asking that it be removed, the city said Top of the Hill’s banner exceeded the 6-square-feet-or-less rule for such signs. But some city council members had other reasons for wanting the banner down — namely that the language might make some members of the community feel unwelcome.

"Personally, I found the language offensive," one said. "I didn’t find the ‘God Bless America’ offensive and appreciate everyone’s show of unity. But the implied tone of ‘woe to our enemies’ is not the message I have been giving my child. Nor do I feel it’s an appropriate banner to hang in the middle of downtown Chapel Hill."

Patriotism Among the Cubicles

Managers at NCCI Holdings, Inc., a workers compensation database company headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., briefly confiscated flags from employees' cubicles and told banned all such “political speech” from the office, saying other workers may find them offensive, reports Fox News.

NCCI's flag ban was based on a company policy that considers displaying the flag a "political statement," which is banned from the workplace along with "divisive statements or actions" and "political or religious discussions."

NCCI’s ban lasted only through last weekend, though, when the company’s president issued a statement reversing the policy, and offering to hand out red, white and blue lapel pins for those who want to wear them this week.

A spokesman said the company also is providing free flags to any employee who wants to display one at their desk, and — in addition to the flags flying outside the company's headquarters — NCCI will put one in its atrium and is considering "modifying our position even more."


Upset in Berkeley

Dozens of University of California, Berkeley students upset over what they called a racist editorial cartoon that appeared in the school newspaper laid what was described as a “siege”  on the paper’s offices demanding an apology, reports The Daily Californian.

They declared a sit-in at The Daily Californian after the paper published a cartoon depicting two Muslim Arabs wearing turbans sitting in a demon's hand, about to be consumed by the flames of hell. One said to the other, "We made it to paradise. Now we will meet Allah and be fed grapes and be serviced by 70 Virgin women ..." The other man is dropping a book with the words "Flight Manual" on the cover.

The protestors called it “a vile form of ethnic characterization” and demanded an apology from the paper. "The false representation by the media is directly responsible for the current hostile, angry and fearful attitude of average Americans toward Muslims and Arabs, and this is unacceptable," said one protestor.