To the editor,

The Athens County Fair Board, at their meeting on June 16, chose to not allow guests to speak about their concerns regarding the display and sale of the Confederate flag at the County Fair.

Therefore, I offer this open letter to the Fair Board:

I would like to acknowledge that you had a lot to discuss at your meeting on Tuesday. You profess concern about people’s safety, and the Covid-19 virus is among us. The safely of the community, real or perceived, is also affected by your refusal to ban the display of the Confederate flag at the County Fair. Abdicating your leadership role and passing the decision on to the membership of the Agricultural Society was cowardly.

America has been a racist society for hundreds of years – we and our forebearers grew up immersed in white supremacy. We didn’t choose it and we didn’t create it, but we can decide to support it or dismantle it. We can attempt to ignore its reality but not when it is pointed out to us in the daily news and by people in our own community. We are no longer innocent of that knowledge.

Like you, I value and respect the First Amendment. So do leaders who have banned the Confederate flag in the Marines, in all US bases in South Korea, and in NASCAR. They have chosen to place respect for their servicemen and women, their members and patrons, above the right of others to display a symbol many find offensive and threatening.

There are things one can do but maybe shouldn’t do. One can drive off a cliff. One can display the Confederate flag. One cannot pretend to not know that the latter is racist. I hope you don’t drive the County Fair off a cliff. There are hundreds if not thousands of people and many businesses in the county who want everyone in our community to feel safe and welcome at the Fair. People are dying every day at the hands of racist white people. It is unconscionable that the Fair Board does not take a stand against this racist symbol. The Fair is getting a cash infusion from the State of Ohio this year, but the community will be withdrawing its support. How do you see the Fair moving forward then?

Susan Righi

New Marshfield

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