Just got off the phone with Linda Lam, the manager of OI-C Bowl Chinese Kitchen and Bar on North Main Street. A flag that the restaurant had flying out front, a flag of the People’s Republic of China, was reported stolen Thursday.
I explained to Linda that I had posted a story about her flag and a reader’s objections to it on this blog on March 24. Well, Linda, busy restaurateur that she is, had not seen the blog and was not aware of its existence. I told her I was sorry that I hadn’t contacted her back when I first published my story.
“Oh, that’s okay. Thank you for telling me that.”
Linda says she and her family is from Hong Kong, a former territory of the United Kingdom which became part of mainland China in 1997. She said the flag had been sent to her friends in Hong Kong. She said she and the other restaurant staff meant absolutely nothing political in flying it.
“We are just a restaurant, for relaxing, and for people being happy,” she said.
She added that she viewed flying this flag the same as other restaurants–Mexican, Italian, French–flying the flags of the nations whose cuisine they serve. I said that I thought that some people have negative associations with this flag: they see it as representing communism, and people still have strong feelings against that political ideology; that many Americans fear China because of its size and economic power; that people from mainland China may have negative feelings about a flag that represents a leadership that oppressed family members in the past.
She again said that her restaurant and its ownership are not trying to make any kind of political statement: “We’re have nothing to do with government or politics.”
Furthermore she said: “This is America, this is the United States. Lots of restaurants flying different kinds of flags. I don’t know why anyone is aiming at us. That is not the spirit of free speech.”
She repeated what she told the Contra Costa Times Friday, that she received a call from a man about two weeks ago who complained that the Chinese flag did not represent democracy. She added that whoever took had to put a lot of effort into the theft.
And, yes, she plans to get ahold of another Chinese flag and fly it again.
Okay, readers, she sounds like a nice woman, who just wants to make a living running a local business. It’s hard to disagree with her point about free speech, a cornerstone of American democracy. But perhaps she’s being a bit naive and idealistic in thinking that everyone will agree that a flag representing the Communist Party-run nation of China is not political.
Oh, with regard to my gripe with the Contra Costa Times. We’ll see. So, she couldn’t have complained to the Times about my blog, because she didn’t know about it. It’s possible the reporter, Roman Gokhman, wasn’t aware of my story about the flag. After all, my blog is fairly new. But my story did receive a fair amount of response after Claycord.com picked it up, and I’m pretty sure most Times reporters keep up, or should keep up, with Claycord.com these days.