Why not to fly the flag
Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):
This is in response to Ann Rychlenski’s letter to the editor of May 28 (“Immigrants and flags”).
Rychlenski feels that by displaying the American flag, especially on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, one shows a sign of patriotism to this country, which she feels living in is a “privilege, not a right” given to immigrants.
Well, if Rychlenski reads the Constitution of this country she will find that it is actually a “right” that we new immigrants earn when we come here to better ourselves. It is not a privilege given to us by a “bunch” of self-styled arrogant Americans who feel they are doing us immigrants a favor to let us come here, work at most times for below-minimum wages, and then face all sorts of discrimination from people who are trying at every opportunity to rip us off. Don’t throw us a few bones, Ms. Rychlenski, we don’t need them.
Most of the time we immigrants who come here are never welcomed and are told to “go back to your country,” or referred to contemptuously as “these foreigners,” or accused of being here illegally. So why should we fly the Stars and Stripes in a country that we believed in — till we got here?
General Motors, AIG, American Express, the Maddox group, numerous other companies and the individuals who work at them also flew the Stars and Stripes while they were busy ripping us all off. This great rip-off has brought us to our knees in the economic world, where, sad to say, now even some born-here Americans have to wait in lines at soup kitchens.
Just flying a flag doesn’t prove patriotism Ms. Rychlenski — working together for the betterment of this country, without discriminating, criticizing and cheating the vulnerable, is the way to go.
Days have changed. Forget Ozone Park, where I live, and Richmond Hill, where Rychlenski feels American flags are not flown, and flags of other countries sprout up. That happens when immigrant groups celebrate their national days in this most diverse of all counties in this country, whose diversity is its strength. It is a right given to us immigrants by the U.S. government, and the celebrations are attended by senior politicians of our city and state.
Discrimination is the major problem in this country, which professes to be fair to everyone but isn’t. Right from the Civil War to the wars we have undertaken unnecessarily in various parts of the world, we have filled this country’s cemeteries with unnecessary deaths under the pretext of defending our freedom, while actually ripping others off. As Pope John Paul II had said, “This savage capitalism is not good for anybody.”
So Ms. Rychlenski, while you sit and feel disgusted with us immigrants for not showing our patriotism by displaying the Stars and Stripes on celebratory days, also sit and try to figure out why this is happening.
Immigrants then and now
Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):
In the June 4 issue was a rather vitriolic and unpatriotic letter from Joseph Aranha, from Ozone Park (“Why not to fly the flag”). His comments were in direct response to those of Ann Rychlenski, whose letter about the dearth of American flags flying in Ozone Park and Richmond Hill (“Immigrants and flags”) was in the May 28 letters column.
Mr. Aranha, you seem to be devoid of one basic point.This is America, and the only flag that must fly is the Stars and Stripes, not those of other nations.That principle is not just mine or Ann’s, that is in our Constitution — that no other flag is to fly superior to ours.
While you are right that corporate executives and armament companies have hurt us economically and sustained wars, that issue is aside from patriotism. If you feel coming to these shores to seek a better life is a “right,” then that right is earned by hard work and education,not seeking public assistance or free health care, and feeling that Memorial Day is a holiday of no importance.
My ancestors, too, came from another country. In my younger days,spent in Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park, there were many immigrant families from Ireland, Poland, Italy, Germany, Austria and Norway. But I can’t recall once ever seeing a foreign flag flying, nor the attitude that something was owed to them.
Like you, they encountered antagonism and a subliminal message of “go back.”But the difference was that they basically forsook loyalty to their former homelands and swore allegiance to their new home. That cannot be said of many of today’s immigrants. The oft-quoted statement that “diversity is our strength” has only enforced differences, instead of eliminating them.
You have written numerous letters to the Queens Chronicle and other local newspapers, in each case maligning America. No immigrant had any choice in the conditions to be met when coming here, and, while ethically wrong, resentment is to be expected. It has occurred throughout American history. You must be mature enough to comprehend that.
This is not entirely an issue of racism or discrimination. Many immigrants play a big part in this, from lack of patriotism, refusal to assimilate, learn the language or adapt to customs and traditions. It works both ways.
If you can’t learn that, then in your own words, the mentality of “go back where you came from” applies.
Become an American
Dear Editor (Queens Chronicle):
This letter is in response to Mr. Aranha’s letter in the June 4 edition. Ms. Rychlenski, whose letter Mr. Aranha responded to, is a true patriot for asking that all Americans fly the U.S. Flag on Memorial Day and other patriotic holidays. In fact every day is a good day to fly the American flag.
As to Mr. Aranha’s assertion “Most of the time we immigrants who come here are never welcomed and are told to ‘go back to your country,’ or are referred to as these foreigners,’” maybe that’s because we often hear today’s immigrants refer to the land from which they fled as “my country” instead of “the old country” as immigrants of the past have done. Past immigrants embraced America for what it is, not as an evil to be changed to suit their cultural needs. Today some display an attitude that once they have made it to America they can do whatever they want, right or wrong. They need to understand that with freedom comes responsibility to the Constitution and rule of law which ensures our collective freedom.
So to Mr. Aranha and those who still give their allegiance to “my country” or “the old country”and wish to abandon American traditions and the fundamentals that have made us a great and God-blessed nation, I say be careful what you wish for. You just might get the same corruption, poverty, inequity and brutality from which you fled.
As to General Motors, AIG, American Express and the Maddox group ripping us all off, you make a very valid point. This is an excellent example of what happens when the free market concept of capitalism is circumvented with greed and political corruption so that public corporations are no longer accountable to their shareholders. However, government ownership of the means of production isn’t the answer. It hasn’t worked since Marx first postulated the concept.
If you want to show how patriotic you are towards our country — the United States — join me in the fight to preserve our traditions by voting for those politicians who consent to being governed by the governed while you fly the American flag.
Marvin R. Jeffcoat
The writer is a retired sergeant first class in the U.S. Army