George Orwell put it this way: “Patriotism is love of one’s country. Nationalism is imposing that love on others.” Our local Patriots Day Parade is completely volunteer with typically half of Laguna participating and the other half watching. A great example of good old-fashioned American patriotism.
On the other hand, is it patriotism or nationalism if our local police department decides to use a red, white and blue, stars and stripes flag motif for the police car logos, even though it wasn’t what City Council approved and directed them to do, and with no public comments or input?
When our rookie Councilman Peter Blake fabricated a “Save the Flag” crisis on Fox News and other right-leaning media, so that Council received over 600 emails from across the U.S in support of “Save The Flag,” and Council chambers was stacked with Minutemen, Bikers for Trump, and O.C. Trump2020 out-of-towners in red MAGA hats, overwhelming Council with flag-waving rhetoric; George Orwell would most probably say that the independent police action combined with outsider and media influence, crossed the line into nationalism. This was a local aesthetic and protocol issue that could have allowed local residents to freely express preferences or dislike for a graphic design; had it not been turned into a political circus by Councilman Blake.
Laguna Beach overwhelmingly voted against self-proclaimed nationalist Donald Trump and his divisive, nationalist agenda. Voting records show Trump garnered only 26 percent of Laguna Beach in 2016. Now, a gaudy cartoonish stars and stripes logo has been imposed on the residents and visitors of Laguna Beach because of fabricated propaganda about “Save the Flag;” even though that was never the issue. No other California beach community has anything close to this jingoistic logo on police cars. Perhaps artists should volunteer to never do law enforcement, and police should never do graphic arts. As an art community, we deserve better than the amateurish Fourth of July graphic on our patrol cars.
After the Council vote, Peter Blake wrapped himself in the flag and sold out Laguna Beach again on Fox News, all for 15 seconds of fame, with the outlandish falsehood of: “If we lost this vote, the flag could be hurt in terms of other states in the country, where people might decide they didn’t like the flag or pledge of allegiance…” Seriously, Peter? The only silver lining, if there is one, is that we now know exactly where Mr. Blake’s allegiance lies, and who his bedfellows really are.
Edward Van der Veer, Laguna Beach