I’m with Mr. Kurtz, who rightly gripes about Gettysburg’s tone-deafness on their display of the traitor flag on their city police uniforms.
So would be the writers of a black newspaper in Kansas in 1893:
Why should we praise the gray and blue
And honor them alike?
The one was false, the other true—
One wrong, the other right.
—poem published in honor of “Decoration Day,” Kansas State Ledger (weekly black newspaper), 1893.05.30; reprinted in Nina Silber, The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865–1900, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993, p. 157
Right now in Gettysburg, South Dakota, city police officers proudly display the flag of traitors on their uniforms. The Gettysburg PD official uniform patch shows a Confederate flag, along with the proper American flag and a cannon. A black-Indian Marine from Flandreau, Lynn Hart, has suggested that Gettysburg police might be sending the wrong message by carrying the Stars and Bars on their uniforms. In response, the Gettysburg PD is flying the traitor flag even more proudly, adding it Monday as their Facebook page profile photo, complete with this defiant declaration:
The history in question is the settlement of Gettysburg by Civil War veterans, Union and traitor. The city adopted this police patch only recently, in what sounds more like a marketing ploy than an attempt to engage in responsible public speech:
“We’ve had it there since 2009. Gettysburg was founded by Civil War vets and we were trying to get our (Civil War) reenactment started. That’s the whole reason it was started,” Gettysburg Mayor Bill Wuttke told the American News. “It was strictly to honor our heritage. Nothing was ever said about racism in planning this” [Kelda J.L. Pharris, “Confederate Flag on Gettysburg Police Uniforms Draws Controversy,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.07.15].
Gettysburg Police Chief Bill Wainman sees no racism in flying the Confederate flag:
“You know, I think it goes directly to the history of the city, how we were founded and who we were founded by,” Gettysburg Police Chief Bill Wainman said by phone Tuesday. “There’s absolutely no racism in that patch. For us it symbolizes unity between the north and the south” [Pharris, 2015.07.15].
Sorry, Chief. The flag of traitors who seceded from the Union so they could continue to treat blacks as property is absolutely racist. The Confederate flag is as inseparable from racism as the Nazi flag. NASA could slap swastikas next to the Stars and Stripes on our rockets to represent German–American unity and honor the history of Wernher von Braun and other former Nazi scientists who got us to the moon (suddenly I want to go watch Iron Sky again), but only willful blindness could delink that display from racism.
Cut the crap, Gettysburg. A Minnesota firefighter got suspended for flying a Confederate flag on a fire truck, because public officials have no business using public property to broadcast racist messages. (That firefighter pretended that displaying the Confederate flag has nothing to do with slavery.) If you want to “honor” “history” by staging a Civil War re-enactment on fields where no Civil War battle was fought, knock yourselves out on your own time. But don’t subject citizens to a racist display on your cops’ uniforms or to your defiant defenses of your crudeness.
Related: Now let’s see if the Atlanta NAACP can get Davis, Lee, and Jackson off Stone Mountain.