Mt. Lebanon man says Obama turning United States into socialist nation
Inauguration day was a sad time for Scott Rice.
Rice, who backed the McCain/Palin ticket, said he knew President Obama would try to change America into "a society based on socialist principles." So he walked outside his Mt. Lebanon house that chilly morning, lowered an American flag flying from a pole in his front yard, and raised a different flag — bearing a hammer and sickle.
"I always had the Stars and Stripes up," said Rice, 51, a rental property manager and Army veteran, at his Cochran Road home. "It hurt me to take that down."
To this day, the red and yellow Soviet-era flag flies in its place along busy Cochran Road, traveled by nearly 11,300 motorists each day. The flag, he said, is a symbol of his displeasure with the Obama administration's plans for the country.
"He's already nationalized the banks and housing. He's going to go after health care and energy next," Rice said. "He is taking from me to give to others. ... He said he was going to change America, and my God, he is. It's sad."
Rice is not afraid of controversy. He doesn't care what people think about him, his opinions, or his flag.
Still, he said he was surprised by comments he has received since raising the Soviet flag.
"Just because my views are dissenting, suddenly I'm a racist, a Nazi, uneducated or uninformed," he said. "But I am just a well-behaved, taxpaying citizen."
His neighbors seemed noncommittal about Rice's flag. Two people who live near Rice said they had no opinion; another said it's his right as an American; a fourth called it a "strange" and ambiguous protest. His neighbors would not give their names to the Tribune-Review.
Rice's son, Ryan, 17, a senior at Mt. Lebanon High School across the street, said classmates and teachers asked him about the flag.
"Mostly out of curiosity," said Ryan Rice, who plans to join the military after graduation. "They giggle or laugh when I tell them." School officials did not return calls for comment.
One day while he was spraying weeds in the driveway, Ryan Rice said, a yellow school bus stopped in front of the home. The driver opened the side door and berated him for being "anti-American."
"He said, 'If you don't like America, you can leave,' " Ryan Rice said. "I said, 'Where's the sign that says I don't like America?' "
Scott Rice considers himself a patriot. He said he loves America so much that he isn't sure he can stomach the changes he fears are coming.
"For the first time in my life, I am ashamed to be an American," he said, adding that he is considering renouncing his citizenship and moving overseas.
Rice holds other strong views:
He hates that his son's school teaches evolution and not creationism. He argues against global warming, saying "a lot of great minds believe this is just a natural (warming) cycle." He refuses to use e-mail because "a lot of vets are mailmen. I buy stamps and write letters."
He has other flags — including the American flag, which he flies on holidays.
In April, when he told police someone stole his Soviet-era flag from the yard, Rice ordered five more.
"Now, I'm not a smart man," Rice said. "But I'm mind-boggled that people don't seem to see what's happening here. If they did, how could they stand for it?"