- - Thursday, November 16, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Salutes to the president can be monetized, and a middle-finger salute to a passing presidential motorcade can sometimes be worth more than a hundred grand. Is this a great country, or what?

Nearly everybody has seen the photograph — “it went viral on social media” — of Juli Briskman, a 50-year-old admirer of the president, saluting Mr. Trump’ motorcade as it sped away from his golf course the other day in a Virginia suburb of the capital. She was on her bicycle when the motorcade passed her and a newspaper photographer riding with the president snapped the evidence of a moment to warm hearts everywhere. When the photograph showed up in the public prints the proud Ms. Briskman passed it on to social media.

But she was fired when she and her employer were identified and her employer turned out to be publicity-shy. Nevertheless, sometimes small gestures are rewarded. An admirer of Ms. Briskman created an online GoFundMe crowdsourcing account and in 10 days more than 5,000 donors pledged $113,635. These are merely pledges, of course, and Ms. Briskman is advised to keep careful records and expect a call from the Internal Revenue Service.

Ms. Briskman is properly grateful, not only to the photographer but to the donors who rewarded such an act of partisan citizenship. “Through your generous donations,” the unemployed Ms. Briskman replied to the donors, “heavy burdens have been lifted. Thank you!”

We’ve all been told that “when life serves you a lemon, make lemonade.” That’s good counsel, and sweetener for her lemonade has kept on coming. An online petition called “Justice for Juli” urges her former employer to “give her job back or compensate for her hostile, unwarranted termination.” More than 12,000 admirers have signed the petition.

The middle-finger salute, once intended as insult, has become a familiar gesture of friendship and citizenship across the fruited plain, and adopted even beyond the sea, given by young and old to reward the kindness of strangers. Our hearts are strangely warmed.


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