One of the rotating banner images on sdsos.gov right now shows Secretary Shantel Krebs on her “Value the Vote” trip to Mobridge High School. The same photo appears on Krebs’s Facebook page, dated March 25, 2016. There the Secretary is, front row center. Way in the back, straight above and behind, one young man makes gang symbols with his hands, because, you know, har-de-har-har.
A less amusing chucklehead (yup, wear that shirt, I’ll use the word) sports the traitor flag of the Confederacy on his black t-shirt in the front row, two spots to the Secretary’s right, and to the immediate left of an adult supervisor whom we can only hope spoke sternly to the chucklehead about racism, history, and respect after the photo.
The First Amendment permits private citizens to express racist sentiments. The boy with the racist traitor flag has as much right to his shirt as the young man next to him wearing what appears to be a combination of a basketball and the four colors of the Lakota medicine wheel on his hoodie has to his. Neither boy sheds his First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse gate, but the First Amendment does not allow either boy to display symbols or engage in other speech at school that may disrupt the school environment. Whether the Confederate flag constitutes such a potential disruption is unclear.
However, it is clear that the Secretary of State of South Dakota is amplifying one wiseacre kid’s decision to prominently display a racist traitor flag at an event promoting the basic American principle that every vote matters. Shantel Krebs, who is also running for Congress, has a First Amendment right to fly that racist traitor flag (she can borrow the new one former legislator Betty Olson is bragging about getting as a present) and wave it over her ranch on her own time, on her Facebook page, and at her campaign events. However, as a government official who takes an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, the Secretary of State must not display the flag of traitors to that Constitution, not to mention traitors to the sanctity of democratic elections that her office protects, in any official capacity on any official documents, print or electronic.
Apparently no one noticed this racist, traitorous display on the Secretary of State’s homepage until today, a Sunday, when our attention to white supremacists and their speech has been heightened by racist violence in Virginia and the murder of a woman apparently caused by a man who not so long ago was a boy sitting in his high school classroom writing a paper idolizing the Nazis. It is to all of our discredit that we didn’t notice sooner. Let us give Secretary Krebs a little time to get to her office and erase this offense from our public website.