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Florida company tells its 850 employees, there is no place for patriotism in our office
September 16, 2001 4:10 PM   Subscribe

Florida company tells its 850 employees, there is no place for patriotism in our office Although the memo from its CEO Bill Schrempf called displaying American flags nationalism (not patriotism). Wouldn't it be great to see the 850 workers stage a patriotic "blue flu" sometime in the near future. Doesn't Mr. Schrempf realize the crisis that this country is going through?
posted by Oxydude (39 comments total)

 
On the other hand, why is flying the flag so important? I have a pretty strong feeling that while every american is angry about what happened, not all of them are going to agree with the US gov't reaction. Maybe we need a "hey. we're all pissed that this happened" symbol instead?

Is unity of all citizens behind all the government's actions important? Does it even matter when decisions are made?
posted by mathowie at 4:23 PM on September 16, 2001


i also equate patriotism with nationalism.
posted by incubus at 4:29 PM on September 16, 2001


i also equate patriotism with nationalism.


Patriotism is loyalty to your country, nationalism is putting your country and its concerns above all else. Thats a big difference. A patriot is a good soldier, a nationalist is a good empire builder.

The PR and PC thing to do would be to let the flags stand but it looks like someone is fearing a potential lawsuit from the break in corporate policy.

It still business as usual folks.
posted by skallas at 4:39 PM on September 16, 2001


How did a someone who is such an enormous moron get to be CEO of a company?
posted by dopamine at 4:41 PM on September 16, 2001


My company issued a mass email saying "People who feel compelled to join the relief effort in New York are surely entitled to do so...just remember that we won't pay you for your time away."

I don't suggest that a company should be required to pay for a person's time away, and I'm not even saying that the email was necessarily inappropriate. I think it was just difficult to read and seemed callous due to the timing of the letter (sent during the middle of the national cathedral's church service that many were listening to on the radio). Like skallas conveyed above, business must go on, and I think it was difficult realizing that.
posted by Hankins at 4:45 PM on September 16, 2001


Let me see if I have this straight. This company is in the USA. The flag the employees want to fly is the US flag.
The company does not want the employees to fly the flag because someone might be upset.


Whatever this company sells, I'm not buying it.
posted by bunnyfire at 4:48 PM on September 16, 2001


They appear to be selling levelheadedness and common sense.
posted by Optamystic at 4:51 PM on September 16, 2001


hankins: some people keep saying that "business must go on" - business going on is part of the problem. the greatest tragedy that could come from all of this is that things continue to go on the way they have been going on.

matthowie: if people in america want to display that flag in america, then why shouldn't they be allowed to do so - why assume it is nationalism instead of patriotism and therefore insulting (as the article seems to state)? flying the flag is important to some people, and that is all that is important. flying the american flag in america certainly shouldn't be frowned upon if it helps them feel a unity with other americans. we could all use a bit more unity.
posted by bakiwop at 4:52 PM on September 16, 2001


on a second reading I see they deal with worker's comp....that explains the mindset.

Why don't we start a drive to send their employees help wanted ads?
posted by bunnyfire at 4:52 PM on September 16, 2001


"I don't get choked up about a bunch of yellow ribbons and American flags. I consider them symbols and I leave symbols to the 'Symbol Minded'" - George Carlin, 1992
posted by Optamystic at 4:55 PM on September 16, 2001


An outsider's view: seeing the US flags last night at the Proms, as a backdrop to Samuel Barber's Adagio, made clear that right now you can wave the Stars and Stripes differently.


For once, I think the flag has transcended the tendency (like that of all flags) for it to be associated with insularity. And, after all, don't Americans pride themselves on locating their national identity from the ground up?


Hankins: the most callous part of that email is "feel compelled", as if the desire to help out in NYC is some perversion. I think you should remember that phrase the next time your bosses ask you to do something beyond the terms of your contract.
posted by holgate at 4:56 PM on September 16, 2001


bakiwop wrote:
could all use a bit more unity.

like I said earlier:
Is unity of all citizens behind all the government's actions important? Does it even matter when decisions are made?
posted by mathowie at 5:00 PM on September 16, 2001


i didn't mean to imply unity of the citizens behind the government, my apologies for not making that clear.

what i meant was unity of people with people.
posted by bakiwop at 5:03 PM on September 16, 2001


As far as displaying a symbol of unity, I believe a white ribbon (peace) would be a far better symbol than the American flag right now.

The last week has had so much patriotic prophaganda and so much violent hostile sentiment, I fear what the American flag means now and in the future. I'm *SERIOUSLY* worried about America adopting a Fascist adgenda in the next few months.

I think this company made an interesting comment, whether it was intentional or not. I *do not* support a war, and right now I believe that the American flag symbolizes support in violent retribution against an unknown enemy, which means inevitably killing far more innocent people than were killed in all four plane crashes and all four Tradgedies.

I, for one will never go to war to kill innocent people.
posted by abulafia at 5:13 PM on September 16, 2001


Generally speaking, the divided opinons here prove this CEO exactly correct.

That, and the media are looking for a bad guy to destroy.

Besides, this "I'm more patriotic than you" stuff this sort of thing fires up, is a bunch of bullshit.

Who needs to wave a flag in everybody's face to prove they love their country?

Is this the forced conformity we can look forward to in the future?

Congrats, you're giving the extremists exactly what they want.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 5:27 PM on September 16, 2001


Is unity of all citizens behind all the government's actions important?

No, but that's hardly the only reason that someone might want to display a flag, especially in such a time as this. In fact, it's probably one of the lowest reasons on the list. As said, there is a difference between patriotism and nationalism, between supportive pride and divisive chauvinism. But most importantly, one of the things that the US flag represents is the freedom that each American enjoys -- one of those freedoms is that to express ourselves. It is remarkably sad to see an American CEO who is so short-sighted and lacking in perspective as to recognise these things, and to also act in something other than typical CYA 'we don't want a lawsuit' fashion in a time of national crisis.
posted by Dreama at 5:29 PM on September 16, 2001


BarneyFifesBullet: when you stated, "Is this the forced conformity we can look forward to in the future?", were you referring to flag-waving as forced conformity or referring to what the CEO did as forced conformity?

As I understand it, only about ten people were showing the flag. The only conformity forced on people was from the CEO, who told people they couldn't do it.
posted by bakiwop at 5:39 PM on September 16, 2001


The CEO of NCCI Holdings, Inc. Bill Schrempf, has outlawed the US Flag in his company in Florida. On a day of national mourning and prayer, this Boca Raton company had its managers confiscate some American flags from employees' cubicles, saying other workers might find them offensive. They even sent one employee home when they refused to remove the flag. See NCCI pulls workers' flags for the entire article.

I think the best thing that could happen to Mr. Schrempf would be for him to get fired, but I am afraid he might be the owner of this company. The next best thing would be to contact this company's customers and run NCCI out of business. If you know who their customers or their competitors are please post. If you have the inclination to write or call this company and tell them what you think of their actions, here is the contact info:

NCCI Holdings Inc.
750 Park of Commerce Dr.
Boca Raton, FL 33487-3696
Phone: (561)997-1000
http://www.ncci.com

Bill Schrempf, CEO
Home Address: 3211S N Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach, FL 33483-7348
Home Phone: (561)278-1039
bill_schrempf@ncci.com

In another instance of un-American insanity, an Elementary School Principal required two students who wore shirts with
American flags on them to change their clothes. Mable Pratt, the principal in question, has no business influencing the lives of small children. In my humble opinion Pratt should resign, retire or be fired immediately. If you would like to let here know what you think of her actions, her contact info is:

Mable Pratt, Principal
McMasters Elementary School
1011 Bennett Dr., Pasadena, TX 77503
Phone: (713) 920-8020
Fax: (713) 920-8024
http://www.pasadena.isd.tenet.edu/mcmasters/Default.htm

At least the superintendant of the school district immediately corrected the problem and said that what happened was a mistake. If you would like to contact him and let him know just how strongly you feel that Ms. Pratt should be put down, his contact info is:

Rick Schneider, Superintendent
Pasadena Independent School District
1515 Cherrybrook • Pasadena, Texas 77502
Phone: (713) 920-6800
Fax: (713) 475-7998

We are going to war, and this is no time for un-American acts like these. Now with the Internet, instead of a few neighbors calling them for their inappropriate behavior, thousands can call them and let them know just how we feel. Please don't threaten them. Just very calmly tell them you don't appreciate what they did and ask them to resign from their position. Remember that it was hate that got all this started, but it was patsy liberal Clintons who let us drop our defenses so that something like this could happen. Make your opinion heard so that the liberal cancer in America that won't protect our homeland is removed from power, but don't hate these people. They are just misguided souls - we should get them out of influential positions and leave them be.
posted by caglee at 6:07 PM on September 16, 2001


On my way to work, I noticed someone flying a full-size Confederate flag off of their apartment balcony. As far as I can remember, they had never flown it before the 11th.

If the CEO allows the stars and stripes to fly in the office, I think they leave themselves open to other political statements that are perhaps not so widely accepted.
posted by jeffhoward at 6:12 PM on September 16, 2001


The next best thing would be to contact this company's customers and run NCCI out of business.

Yeah, that's American. Someone doesn't agree with you? Make 'em homeless!

We are going to war, and this is no time for un-American acts like these

I didn't know posting other's home address and phone numbers and getting everyone to fire them was an American act either.

Remember that it was hate that got all this started, but it was patsy liberal Clintons who let us drop our defenses so that something like this could happen

You sure it wasn't the gays, the ACLU, and the other damn bastards trying to secularize America?
posted by mathowie at 6:12 PM on September 16, 2001


Actually, the most un-American thing of all right now is stirring up angry sentiments against each other. Glad to see that you've made this the subject of your first post, caglee.
posted by darukaru at 6:14 PM on September 16, 2001


were you referring to flag-waving as forced conformity or referring to what the CEO did as forced conformity

Nah, I was speaking in general.

As in, "if you don't have a flag on you at all times, you don't love your country".

The CEO here obviously wants to keep the office clear of what he sees as a hindrance to buisness.

They don't have to work there and it's his space.

He has every right to demand conformity, to a certain level.

Yes, he may be overreaching, but we don't work there so we don't know.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 6:15 PM on September 16, 2001


It's against my personal beliefs to wear a tie to work, but my CEO doesn't seem to give a rat's ass. He's the boss. His office, his call.
posted by Optamystic at 6:20 PM on September 16, 2001


Isn't it funny that naming-and-shaming caglee fails to provide any identification about himself on his profile?
And isn't his talk about being un-American vaguely familiar?
Perhaps he'd like to set up a MeFi commission for un-American activities. Thiough even Joe McCarthy stood up to be counted.
I propose that revolutionary bunch, the Founding Fathers. String'em up; it's the only language they understand.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:40 PM on September 16, 2001


Excuse me. We are talking about our country's FLAG for crying out loud.

I dare you to go into a Thai restaurant and not see a picture of their King. It is simply a matter of respect.

If you cannot respect the flag of your own country-or at least respect the fact that your countrymen respect it-i kinda don't know what to do with you.

You are aware that people actually DIED so you could have these opinions, right? Do you really think these freedoms will always exist without being watched over? Hmmm?
posted by bunnyfire at 6:46 PM on September 16, 2001


The CEO of NCCI has the right to dictate such a policy, if he owns the business, but I think he will generate much ill-will as a result.

Me? Heck, my workplace is blanketed in symbols, including the flag! Of course, my workplace is the US Air Force... :-)

On a more serious note, I fervently hope that this incident doesn't revive the proposed amendment to outlaw the burning of the flag. Unfortunately, I suspect that the current climate is exactly what the anti-flag burners will take advantage of. Yes, I'm in the Air Force, and yes, I love my country and the principles it is built on, so some may think I'm a bit contradictory in my belief that Americans should have the right to burn a flag. Nevertheless...while our flag is a powerful symbol for freedom, it is ONLY a symbol.
posted by davidmsc at 6:53 PM on September 16, 2001


bunnyfire: The flag the employees want to fly is the US flag.

bakiwop: if people in america want to display that flag in america, then why shouldn't they be allowed to do so

(emphasis is mine)

Fortunately or no, the workplace has never been a setting for doing whatever you want to do. Might be part of why we call it "work" in the first place. I, too, think the CEO is overdoing things here to the point of paranoia, but it's his decision to make. Plenty of companies consider it a distraction, rather than a boost to worker morale, for employees to keep non work-related paraphernalia (personal effects, etc.) at their desks. Until the employee becomes the employer, she/he has no alternative but to do as told.

Having said that, it's quite clear from the angry reaction of many in this thread that the CEO of NCCI has likely put his company in a PR crisis management situation that it need never have faced. Should've waited for some anal-retentive jerk with a big stick up his wazoo to start whining about the situation before even considering taking action.

Oh, wait, that's the CEO...
posted by Bixby23 at 7:25 PM on September 16, 2001


Excuse a foreigner's aside but it is divisiveness and discord which keep your wonderful country together. The U.S. is truly made of different people and divergent cultures who have decided to agree to disagree.
Your flag is beautiful because every single star looks the same and is given the same aesthetic and political importance, even though the several states are vastly different.
If you think of every star as representing a culture - whether German, Jewish, Arab-American, English, Chinese or whatever - you will appreciate how much you've accomplished by being honestly different; yet purposefully united. This is your secret weapon.
Being American means being able to be who you are with no constraints, apart from the respect for all those who are different.
In truth, you have no nationality. You have gone beyond that. You are free. You stick together so you can go on inventing yourselves. If ever there was a truly international flag, yours is it.

This is your great lesson to the world - don't disparage it.
The U.S.A. has been the future for the world since 1766.
Enjoy it by being EXACTLY how you were before these terrible events.
And keep fighting amongst yourselves, while presenting a single face to the world, because this is surely what you call the "way to go"!
(End of eulogy)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:26 PM on September 16, 2001


A neighbor of my step-father saw fit to place flags on the porches of a whole row of homes on the street - without asking permission.

My step-father would not have put up the flag himself, but is now concerned about removing it.

Kinda creepy, this whole flag bizness...
posted by mapalm at 7:33 PM on September 16, 2001


I'm offended by all those college shirts out there... especially shirts from my own college.
posted by Dane at 7:49 PM on September 16, 2001


caglee: welcome to metafilter. there is a sizable minority of conservatives here who are both vocal and articulate, and even though i usually disagree with them, i'm glad they are here and participating.

however, this is not freerepublic.com, so stop trolling, m'kay?
posted by lescour at 8:29 PM on September 16, 2001


Excuse a foreigner's aside...

MiguelCardoso, I just wanted to tell you that your post was one of the most moving things I've had the pleasure to read in quite some time.

So moving, in fact, that I felt compelled to register just to tell you so.

Now I'll return to reading in silence.

Thanks again for your words.
posted by pudders at 9:14 PM on September 16, 2001


MiguelCardoso's post deserves widespread reading. That's exactly the kind of perspective a lot of people need right now.
posted by Tubes at 9:35 PM on September 16, 2001


Bixby23: not true! getting off-topic here a bit: the workplace is full of wants and rights. workers have rights (and more than enough wants, i'm sure!). that's what labor movements were/are about, and that's what all the concern is about domestic and foreign sweatshop and child labor.

i am not trying to state that the right to show a flag is on par with the rights of child/sweatshop labor as far as the seriousness of the issue is concerned, however, the workplace is about wants, no matter how important or trivial.
posted by bakiwop at 9:37 PM on September 16, 2001


Just a sidenote: anyone else notice people using the word "Un-American" a lot more lately? Ex.: ...this is no time for un-American acts like these.

How can we be un-American if we're American? It's a *geographic* distinction. Anyone born in or naturalized to the United States of America is an American. That's true whether they fly a flag, fly a plane, or fly their underwear on a flagpole. It's true whether they support free speech or whether they are ignorant of the tenets of the Constitution and think everyone should be forced to think like them.

For better or worse, national identity doesn't have much to do with being part of a like-minded group of citizens unless you're living in Ecotopia, a religious state, or a small country (and even then...). We're none of the above. Un-American doesn't mean anything substantive, it's just one of those words that stirs up emotions. I'd like to see people/journalists/whoever using more specific language to make their meanings clear, and keep the jinogoism to a bare minimum.
posted by jenwells at 9:42 PM on September 16, 2001


Right now I believe that the American flag symbolizes support in violent retribution against an unknown enemy, which means inevitably killing far more innocent people than were killed in all four plane crashes and all four Tradgedies

And I believe that it symbolizes support for all those who died in the past few days, and support for those who are expending a great deal of energy in rescue efforts in NYC and DC. Further I believe it symbolizes support for our nation to survive this disaster, heal from the attacks, and grow something good where evil has struck.

It's interesting to me that someone living in this country would be offended by a symbol that represents the country. Before this whole thing is over, I won't be surprised to see that some CEO somewhere has asked all employees to remove emblems from American made automobiles in the parking lot because a some Chevy logo has offended someone who doesn't agree with what the country is doing. Silly? Sure, but it'll happen.
posted by nwduffer at 11:00 PM on September 16, 2001


> We are going to war, and this is no time for un-American
> acts like these...

That's the creepiest thing I've read today (and I've been reading a lot of creepy things lately). People who think like that start wars.

And this:
> it was patsy liberal Clintons who let us drop our
> defenses so that something like this could happen
sounds Falwellian.

I wonder if that was the first and last posting under that alias? Was it really from a spineless regular poster in disguise? That would be just the sort of thing you would expect from a dickhead who would try to get a teacher fired for enforcing a school dress code.

I wish Matt would remove the contact information and spare those people undue harrassment.
posted by pracowity at 11:45 PM on September 16, 2001


I don't think the CEO is doing himself, or his company, any favors by taking such a absolutists stance on this issue. You don't want your employees hanging up huge American flags in the windows? Fine.

Sending them home for having a small flag on their desk seems, to me, to be an overreaction (of which there is incredible surplus these days). There is no need to think of this guy as some sort of traitor. I would think that he is an ineffective manager, however.

A flag isn't just artwork, it is a symbol, after all, and will have attached to it, in this time of tragedy, very intense emotions. This attack was on "America," whatever that means to you, and, because we only have one symbol that will always represent "America," again whatever it means to you, is the flag. The CEO of this company should have realized that not everyone was going to agree with what he thought the flag represented: nationalism or even jingoism.

I suppose that on the surface of it, his goal of trying to eliminate sources of unease at the office is an understandable and even noble goal. However, it seems that he has now only increased that unease in total.
posted by thewittyname at 7:56 AM on September 17, 2001


Wasn't the CEO was enforcing a pre-existing policy? I doubt they got sent home for the flags, as much as for arguing in the heat of the moment about a rule they accepted at the time of employment.
posted by Sqwerty at 10:36 AM on September 17, 2001


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