Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Leave Gettysburg (SD) Alone

     Anybody who thinks a publicly sanctioned display of the Confederate flag makes any sense
A Police Patch In Gettysburg, SD
Why The Equivalence Between The 2 Flags?
(photo from ksfy.com)
at all is way off base when it comes to grasping the symbolism of that historically and morally discredited piece of cloth.  
The folks (at least those who support the city's official position) living in Gettysburg, South Dakota, a city that was founded by veterans of the Civil War in the 19th century, argue that the flag is representative of the city's heritage and therefore should have equal exposure with the flag of the United States of America on the PD's official crest.  There's probably some merit to that point, but by emblazoning their city police force's official seal with it they apparently take some measure of pride in their identification with that symbol of slavery, not to mention contempt for the very idea of the Union itself.  This says much about the city's official lack of understanding and sensitivity. For crying out loud, can't the citizens of Gettysburg understand how deeply minority populations are offended by a flag that represents the inhuman treatment and subjugation of one of our country's largest minority groups?

     I think it should be expunged, and if I were living in Gettysburg I'd support a measure to do just that.  However, I don't reside in Gettysburg.  I've never been to Gettysburg.  Until this came up, I never much cared about what was going on in Gettysburg.  But as I was asked about my opinion on the flag controversy during a radio interview last week, I stated a position that I stand by:  this is something for the people who live in Gettysburg to decide.  I think there's been some histrionic overkill by non-residents in their efforts to get the city to do away with the "stars and bars" of the Confederacy.  My good friend Cory Heidelberger over at his excellent blog Dakota Free Press just raised a Constitutional argument against the flag's continued display.  Though I share Cory's contempt for the city's position, I think his argument is a stretch.  I invite readers to link to DFP's post
County Courthouse In Gettysburg, SD
No Room For The Confederate Symbol Here.
Why Festoon The Police With It? 

(photo from www.gettysburgsd.net)
on it and draw their own conclusion.

     The Constitutional argument that I would make is one that allows people freedom of speech. Given the virtually limitless freedom to use the Confederate flag in all manner of official and unofficial capacities, I'd say the long history of its display is one that has de facto Constitutional sanction.  Just as there has never been a serious federal attempt at getting the State of South Carolina to remove the flag from state property, it seems pretty doubtful that any outside entity, public or private, can force Gettysburg to ban the display by using Constitutional authority.  Fact is, it would be contra-Constitutional to do so. Freedom of speech is also the freedom to make stupid utterances (some of my readers probably marvel at my frequent capacity to do just that, lol), which is exactly the lesson that we learn from Gettysburg, South Dakota, and its irrational infatuation with the flag of the Confederacy.  

6 comments:

  1. Joseph G Thompson
    You do realize of course, that the flag everyone is screaming about is not the national flag of the CSA, but a battle standard. The stars and bars in three different configurations was the national flag. So no one in Gettysburg is displaying the national standard of the CSA, but a battle flag carried by soldiers recognized by public law 85-425 as US veterans.

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    1. Appreciate the information. If the citizens of Gettysburg are comfortable with this official display of a symbol that denotes slavery and contempt for the Union, they have every right to emblazon it on their police department's uniforms.

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    2. There is another side to the story of the battle standard that is overshadowed by the screams of racism when it is displayed. I would never display the stars and bars of the Confederacy, but the battle standard stands next to the flag of the United States in my den. My family fought on both sides during the war for Southern Independence, and that flag stands where it does to honor the service and sacrifice of those who fought under that standard. During the time you spent in the USMC did you not see the rebel battle standard flown by Marines? During my 20 plus years of service I have seen it flown many many times by black, white and brown service members and nobody displayed any craziness, now some desecrate the graves and memorials of US veterans under the guise of fighting racism, if it was not so sad their ignorance of US law would be laughable. Joseph G Thompson

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  2. John -
    It's pretty far off the topic, but is anyone going to stand up to Mayor/Chief SA re: his plan to drop Native Sun News for official publications? It seems pretty quiet, but I think someone should call him on that.

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    1. The Mayor said it was a "business decision," and I'm hoping to ask him at the Black Hills Forum and Press Club meeting later this month what the metrics were that went into making the decision, e.g. NSN circulation vs. cost of advertising. If Mayor Allender wants to elucidate here, I invite him to do so.

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  3. Still waiting - and hoping for something lucid from SA.

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