Unification and knowledge equals peace; we are all children of Mother Earth.

If you search for “unity ribbons” on Google, the first two websites you’ll find can explain to you the intricacies of pagan cultures. American memorabilia vendors take a back seat, the first starting as the third site in the list.

Drop that ‘s’ from “ribbons,” however, and you’ll banish those pesky pagans back to the nether regions of the Internet. The patriotic sites arise on top.

I started this search for American fashion after hearing a tale of a special pin that transforms your average George Babbitt into Captain America if a terrorist should ever try to hijack your plane. While I still haven’t found the website offering this miraculous device, I did find a great deal of other patriotic sites.

At www.theunityribbon.org, you can download an electronic ribbon to your desktop. Other sites will tell you how to make a real one for yourself. Those with a sub third-grade skill level in arts and crafts can purchase a pin or ribbon, starting at just $1.50.

If a pin isn’t your style, you can search the web for a variety of items, ranging from the simple bumper sticker or T-shirt to more exotic items like red, white and blue Beanie Babies, patriotic glass elephants and bundt cake pans. All that’s missing is a stars and stripes jockstrap, perfect for protecting your privates from terrorists.

America still can’t shake the jingo bug it caught over a year ago, which isn’t a bad thing. It offers all sides something to complain about. Conservatives get to call liberals a bunch of spineless terrorism facilitators, and liberals go nuts with charges that Bush is an incompetent diplomat bent on destroying the act of free speech along with the known world.

As with everything, though, Americans take a half-assed approach to their patriotism. I’d wager that less than 10 percent of us know how to take care of or properly display the flags we purchased at Wal-Mart for $8.

According to sections 8d and 8g of the Flag Code, Old Glory should never appear on any sort of clothing apparel or have any type lettering, marks or insignias on or obscuring any part of the flag. It sort of makes all those American flag T-shirts seem, well, un-American, doesn’t it?

Section 8i is the kicker, though, and I think the most violated of all the rules. The American flag must never be used in an advertisement of any sort or placed upon anything classified as disposable, i.e. napkins, paper plates, tissues and so on.

It all takes the fun out of tying a flag to the antenna of your car and driving around until the poor thing is so ragged and torn you wouldn’t use it to wipe your shoes with. But we Americans have never been seriously pressed by such trivial issues. Tradition is much more of a British thing, and that’s the whole reason the Pilgrims sailed over here in the first place.

But keep buying America. The guy living in Minnesota with a working knowledge of Java needs your patriotic dollars to keep his son in college.

Or better yet, you could just get the pagan unity ribbon and wear it however you damn well please.

Steven Ruszczycky is the Daily Nexus opinion editor. A little consistency is all he asks. You can find the United States Flag Code at <www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagetiq.html>.