On Aug. 12, protestors shut down the Hong Kong airport to demonstrate their desire for democratic reforms in the governance of their city. This ongoing protest began March 21 as an outcry to an extradition bill advanced by Beijing on political opponents in Hong Kong. While the bill was suspended, protesters still demand democratic reforms.
A brief history: In 1997 Britain ceded Hong Kong to mainland China under a principle agreement of one country two systems. Hence, Hong Kong has long enjoyed a degree of autonomy and a vibrant free market economy dating back to the 1950s.
Communist China has systematically been disqualifying pro-democracy persons from taking seats in the 70-member territorial Legislative Council. These seats are filled by Beijing loyalists.
In 2015, five booksellers disappeared only to turn up in custody in Mainland China under charges of selling banned books. Actors and artists claim they, too, are being pressured into self-censorship.
Aug. 13, the second day of the shutdown, protesters broke out the United States flag and sang our national anthem in English. And for the first time: On July 31, a protester outside the Kwai Chung Police Station also waved the flag and sang the Star Spangled Banner.
Not surprising, neither of these two events were covered by any U.S. broadcast outlets. Yet, the United States flag remains the sole beacon of freedom and liberty to those around the world who face crushing totalitarianism.
However, a Red Wing councilman lectures us that our public officials should no longer pledge their allegiance to this universal symbol of freedom. In turn that means no allegiance “to the Republic for which it stands.”
We the people make up this “Republic” established by and under the protections U.S. Constitution. This republic (we/us) is served by 535 representatives in our legislative branch, a judicial branch and an executive branch as mandated in the Constitution. It is a three-way checks and balance by design.
Since Betsy Ross threw its first stitch, this flag has presided over every skirmish, battle and legislative action that was the origin of our freedom and liberty. The Pledge of Allegiance, our republic, and our Constitution are not mutually exclusive to that freedom! It is a call on those in government to serve the people, not the other way around.
The vacuous premise posited here in favor of some city pledge, I suspect, has more to do with someone’s nose being out of joint over our current political climate. And their specious claim to support the Constitution is equally without merit. If not, why then the redundancy?
Meanwhile in Hong Kong the protest is not with the Hong Kong government as characterized in the media. It is with the steady incursion and erosion of their freedoms by Beijing. In 2045 Hong Kong is to come under Communist rule. They wave our flag in opposition to the most brutal, inhumane, and despotic regime in history. Sadly, this stark contrast is lost in the chambers of our City Council.
By all means, retain your junior varsity pledge for our city. This could be passed off as mere folly on the part of our council until one seriously examines the inevitable that will befall Hong Kong in the not too distant future. That fate will underscore the sophistry of the discourse that dismissed the 31-word acknowledgement of the origin of the greatest freedom and liberty of all time, anywhere.
George W. Snyder