To the Editor:
After a truck at a SUNY, Buffalo campus construction project was spotted sporting a large Confederate flag, student journalist Benjamin Blanchet wrote about it in The Spectrum, their campus newspaper. He included comments by professor Carole Emberton, who focuses on 19th century American history. She noted that what is known as the “Confederate” flag was not always so. It happened in the 1890s, long after the Civil War ended, when an organization called “Sons of Confederate Veterans” began displaying the flag and marching with it. She said the flag was further popularized in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement.
“You can’t divorce or separate that symbol [from being] a weapon of racial intimidation,” Emberton said.
“(When... this flag is used) by violent, white supremacist rallies/organizations (as an “intimidation tactic”), one can make a legitimate argument that (any) display of the “Confederate” flag can signal a threat to public safety...,” she continued.
In fact, in recent years the flag regularly appears at white supremacist rallies throughout the country, including at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which three people died.
And yet members of the Athens County Fair Board either do not understand the deep significance of this symbol, especially to people of color, or the members do not care that the flag is both hurtful and frightening to some visitors. Worse, they DO understand, but pretend not to. Besides making a mockery out of their stated mission of inclusiveness, allowing Confederate flag paraphernalia for sale at the County Fair conveniently sends a not so subtle message to all people of color, to international students and their families, and to everyone else who may not look like they were born and raised in Athens County. Pretty slick, I’d say.