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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rebel Flag Flap at Sullivan South: An Editorial


You've come a long way, baby.

We're not talking about cigarettes.

Relations between Black America and White America has come a long way. We've all been through a lot.

It has only been a year since our wonderful city was shocked by racial graffiti scrawled on the I-26 Meadowview overpass, some of it directed at President Obama. At this writing, the young man accused in the case is requesting judicial diversion. The incident was embarrassing to both blacks and whites in Kingsport, and was promptly and properly denounced by both.

And now, once again, racial intolerance rears its ugly head just outside our doors. This time, in the form of the rebel flag, waved by our neighbors who may not really understand what it means.

At a public institution of learning, of all places.

There probably is not an African-American in this country that can look at the rebel flag, and not have disdain for what it represents in our history. We will not debate the emotional controversy evoked by the rebel flag. It was carried by Confederates during the Civil War, and later waved by hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Period. 'Nuff said.

Unfortunately, now, the rebel flag is being waved by a whole new generation. A generation that may not understand why it is offensive to many people. And not just a few hundred people. More like... several MILLION.

This new generation says, the rebel flag is all about heritage, not hate. They say, their forefathers fought and died for the rebel flag. They will tell you that, to respect their ancestors, means respect for the rebel flag.

Should ancestral respect be more important, than respect for millions of people who find the rebel flag offensive? Perhaps in their own homes on their own property.. but not on public school grounds paid for by public tax dollars, or school-sponsored public events.

It was just recently that a young 18-year-old aspiring Marine candidate was rejected by the U.S. Marine Corps, because he has the tatoo of a rebel flag on his shoulder.
Click here to read the article from World Net Daily.

The issue of the rebel flag on public school property has also come up before. The
6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati dismissed a lawsuit filed over the ban of the rebel flag at Maryville (Tennessee) High School in 2008.
Click here to read the Wikipedia article where the ban was upheld at Maryville High School.

A case from William Blount High School in Blount County was also upheld to ban the rebel flag from public school property. The case from William Blount eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the 6th Circuit Court's decision to ban the flag.
Click here to read the article on the Blount High School case.

These are legal precedents that cannot be ignored in Sullivan South's case.

Whether Sullivan South has ever named the rebel flag as its "official flag" does not matter. The Sullivan County School Board and its superintendent have jurisdiction over whether the flag can be brought onto school property and to school-sponsored events.

It is unfortunate that Sullivan South High School, an institution of excellent learning, where children take steps into adulthood, is dragged into the views of a few, which adversely affect everyone's learning opportunity. This is obviously not good publicity for the school. We would rather hear how well the students did on their statewide test scores, and more on their wonderful achievements in band and theatrical prowess. Instead, we are hearing a age-old battle that adults are waging for them.. a battle that has no winners. The Sullivan South students are innocent victims, manipulated into a stayed viewpoint, without the chance to research both sides and decide for themselves.

We are sad for them.

We do not object to the waving of the rebel flag. What a person does on private property is their own business. We object to the rebel flag being waved on public property, be it a public school, public park, or other city, county, state or federal property for which public tax dollars pay for.

We know that, in the end, the Sullivan County School Superintendent will do the right thing. We know that the Superintendent will make the decision that countless other school boards, superintendents and jurisdictions in Tennessee, and federal courts in this wonderful nation, have made before them.

A decision that bans the presence of the rebel flag on all public school grounds, and at any public school-sponsored events.

It is the right decision. It is the only decision.