Debate Over Confederate Flag

By HEATHER POHLABEL
Daily Globe Staff Reporter

SHELBY - The debate over the removal of the Confederate flag from government buildings in South Carolina as well as its likeness from many manufacturers' products has been slightly overshadowed by current events in the Supreme Court of the United States, but that doesn't mean people aren't still concerned over the recent actions.

What does the Confederate flag actually mean to people and is our nation going "too far" by removing and banning the symbol in certain respects? Local readers sounded off.

Tom Gross of Crestline believes the Confederate flag is "a history of the south and it should stay up as part of history. It has been there since the Civil War."

Michelle Krietemeyer of Plymouth added, "Although I don't agree with some of the principles that it is associated with, it does represent a significant part of our country's history. You can't just take that away. Banning the flag would be like trying to pretend that part of our history never happened."

Lacella Lillo replied, "I have no special connection to the Confederate flag, but if we tried to do away with parts of history (or things that remind us of it) just because people don't like it, we wouldn't have any history to remember. It's part of this country; the good, the bad, and the ugly."

Former Shelby resident and Marine Ron Cooke has a different outlook. "Here's my take: I served over twenty years in the Marines. I've got a problem in banning anything. People have died defending the freedoms granted in this great country. When you start banning anything that offends a certain group of people, when and where does it stop? I don't like flag burning, I actually detest it, but I'll defend their right to do it because that's what it means to live in America...FREEDOM!"

Michelle Shuler has never liked the symbol that some embrace. "I have always been offended by the 'Confederate Flag' feeling that it stood for human slavery and other injustices. I did a little research and learned that it was never the actual flag of the confederacy and was considered a battle flag. I cannot imagine why ANYONE would want to promote or condone the atrocities of slavery or the horrors of war."

Several responses included sentiments similar to Kim Jeffries, Crestline native, "When I've think or see the confederate flag... I think it stands for goodness, helping others, freedom, love and faith and hope. Of 'Good old boys' doing the right thing. It has nothing to do with race; we all bleed the same way."

Monica Shuster believes the flag represents hate. "Ban the flag; it represents hate. This is no different than the Nazi flag. These flags were created on the basis of hating a certain group. There is no room for hate, only love will prevail."

Former police chief of Shelby Charlie Roub believes taking any action banning symbols is a violation of the Constitution. "It is a Constitutional issue. The First Amendment guarantees free speech and freedom of expression."

"The Confederate flag does not symbolize hate," he continued. "It symbolizes a group of people that wanted to go their own way and not be forced to follow the ideals of another group. It is like the American flag is a symbol of freedom. That is what was created to represent a group of people who chose to think differently. It is also a very significant part of American history. Don't transform a piece of cloth into an emotion. The hate comes from folks who don't understand the issues or are uneducated to them."

Other responders, like Leigh Oden, believe the issue is not about the flag at all, rather about hate. "If we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. There is always going to be hate and racism in this country. Should we ban the Confederate flag? I don't think so. Would I ever fly that flag on my property? No way, but I am also not from the south. What we should do is teach our children to love one another and not see someone for the color of their skin, but for who they are in their heart. This is a heart issue."

Bruce Briggs, Jr. believes cooler heads prevail when waiting to make decisions following highly publicized tragedies. "People have the freedom to say and do a lot of things we may not agree with. I wouldn't fly an ISIS/ISIL flag for example, but The Constitution protects those who do. I would prefer to see a cooling off period after horrific events like this. People are too quick to react emotionally. Stop and think about what you are sacrificing before you so readily offer up your liberty."

Matthew Tridico, a former Shelby resident and Veteran, also responded on the issue regarding rights. "We have bad people out there of all ethnic backgrounds. Taking away "things" will not make them better people. Only a society that hands out just punishment will!"

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