Editor's Note: The following was originally published at the Big Hollywood blog on Sunday, May 9.
UPDATE: Here’s the new link to Ebert’s post.
When the story broke involving five high school students sent home by school administrators for daring to wear the American flag on Cinco de Mayo, the once universally-beloved film critic Roger Ebert had a choice. He could either side with the students and school administrators repressing free speech or he could side with those having their speech repressed. Not surprisingly (he is a leftist, after all), Ebert sided with the repressors. Worse, with this Tweet, Ebert equated wearing the American flag as just as offensive as wearing the Soviet hammer & sickle.
Today, Ebert responds with the usual leftist refuge of last resort: How dare you question my patriotism!
The impression is spreading that I have drawn an equation between the American flag and the hammer and the sickle. I’m currently serving for target practice on some right-wing websites, and a group of Tweeters are having jolly fun portraying me as an America hater and worse.
Well, Roger, the reason that impression’s spreading is because that’s exactly what you did. Take another look at your own Tweet — you know, the one you wrote. The rest of Ebert’s rise in his own defense is an attempt to explain what he really meant and here’s the rub:
Many others informed me that Americans have the right to be proud of our flag, and wear it on T-shirts. Of course they do. That isn’t the question. It’s not what my Tweet said. What I suggested, in its 108 letters, is that we could all use a little empathy. I wish I had worded it better.
But even with this new opportunity to word it better, all Ebert manages to do is forget the first rule of holes by adding even more examples of what he sees as similar to wearing the American flag. Stuff like a Joseph Stalin shirt — and my favorite – a Rape of Nanking shirt!
The moral equivalency at work here isn’t surprising (he is a leftist, after all). What’s also not surprising is the critic laying that famous leftist trap imploring us to Choose Fascism, to embrace speech repression in order to avoid the possibility of offending a member of the protected class — in this case Mexican-Americans easily offended by the American flag. So much there for a lefty to love!
Because it’s an unwinnable argument, what Ebert refuses to address is that the real problem in that high school was not that kids chose to wear the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. The problem is that those who chose to be offended by the flag were not taught by school administrators that Freedom of Expression is a higher value than whatever disrespect they might be feeling. (That American kids are offended by the sight of the American flag on any day of the year is another problem entirely.)
Given a teachable moment the school made the worst possible decision and used their power over another to silence peaceful protest. And if the protest wasn’t peaceful it doesn’t appear as though it was the protesters ready to cause disruption.
Rhetorical question: Would Ebert have reacted the the same way had the situation been reversed; if Mexican-American kids were booted out of a 4th of July ceremony for wearing Cinco de Mayo shirts?
Of course he wouldn’t have. Because of his unprincipled, PC knee-jerkery, he would’ve gotten that situation correct and sided with those utilizing their God-given right to protest.
Finally, as though his ever-widening hole wasn’t already a pretty good-sized credibility grave, Ebert just couldn’t control his elite self and closes his article with a bigoted shot at NASCAR fans.
Therefore, you and your buddies should try wearing the hammer and sickle on the Fourth of July. You could try it at a NASCAR race, for example.
I got news for you Ebert. NASCAR fans are so wildly superior to you in every way a human being qualifies as decent and tolerant that it’s not even funny. And your fellow bigots in the MSM have already (accidentally) made your claim a provable lie:
NBC News baited the hook, but netted nothing in its “sting” attempt to find anti-Muslim sentiments during the Martinsville race weekend.
By its own admission NBC News was so “intrigued by the results of a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll and other articles regarding increasing anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States” that it decided to make the news, rather than merely report.
Once again I’d like to thank Al Gore. This Internet-thingy makes the job of exposing who the people are in charge of the most powerful propaganda machine ever created much, much easier.