The infamous red flag hanging in front of OI-C Bowl Chinese Kitchen and Bar on Main Street, which I featured in a widely discussed post March 24, has been stolen.
Walnut Creek police say the theft was reported at around 5 p.m Thursday.
The theft occurred about two weeks after a man called the restaurant to complain that “Chinese democracy is not good," the restaurant’s manager told the Contra Costa Times. The manager also said that taking the flag would be a somewhat complicated endeavor. The thief would have to unscrew the flagpole from the wall in order to remove the flag. The bracket was accessible only from a second-floor balcony.
The manager complained to the Times that the theft was discrimination.
In my post, I did not say whether I thought it was right or wrong for the flag to be flying. I explained that a reader contacted me to raise questions about the appropriateness of a flag flying in downtown Walnut Creek. The reader referred to it as a “communist China flag,” then said, “Yeah, I understand it’s Chinese food, but come on! How ‘bout an American flag next to it at least?”
Frankly, I didn't have a position on whether the flag should fly or not. I was just interested in hearing what others thought.
I also went off on my own political/philosophical/historical tangent, considering: whether communism is the big bad threat to the United States that it was in the Cold War or actually a discredited ideology; whether China is really all that communist any more or just plain authoritarian; whether Americans feel threatened by China's formidable economic heft; whether it’s all that wrong for a Chinese restaurant to fly a flag representing the nation of its menu’s origins, when Italian, Mexican, and French restaurants fly flags, colors of their flags, and symbols of their national origins all the time. (Of course, I haven’t seen any Vietnamese flags flying in any Vietnamese restaurants I’ve been into lately. They all seem to go for the theme harkening back to their oppression under French colonialism. Go figure.)
One reader raised an interesting objection, describing his parents as suffering under the Communist Party regime that runs China. That reader found this flag offensive. Interesting viewpoint. Worth considering, I think.
Meanwhile, neighbors of the restaurant told the Times they were not offended by the Chinese flag, and the restaurant’s manager says she plans to replace it.
A couple things I want to add:
First, I regret that in my original post I didn't contact the restaurant's owners to ask them why they chose to fly the flag. I should have. I apologize to them and to readers.
Second, from the timing, it sounds like the person calling the restaurant to complain about the flag did so after my post appeared. Who knows whether he saw my post, or he had simply noticed the flag like anybody else walking or driving along Main Street?
But third, in no way do I condone anyone stealing this flag. Just because I wrote about it on my stupid blog doesn't mean I think this local business should be harassed in a criminal way.