GBurg Octoberfest: Confederate Flag : LUSENET : Kentlands : One Thread

Did anyone else object to the allowance of the Sons of the Confederacy to setup a booth at the Gaithersburg Octoberfest? They prominently displayed the Confederate battle flag which I feel is a symbol of racism that has been used by the various Nazi and KKK groups...I know about First Amendment rights but this seems too controversial (Skokie, Ill. banned the Neo-Nazis after a vigoroous 1st amend defense by the ACLU).



I had mixed feelings about this group. I talked to the leader, an elderly gentleman who told me in detail about the battles that one of his ancestors survived during the Civil War. As a lover of history, I enjoyed this part of the conversation. I can only assume that the group wants to perserve the memory of their brave ancestors. I would be surprised if their motive was to promote racial superiority.

On the other hand, I objected to the the coins that my sons brought home that had a picture of the flag and a slogan to the effect of "let it fly forever." I want my sons to know that, however brave and devoted the Southern Army was, it fought to preserve a way of life that depended on some humans treating others like property, and paying them nothing for their labor. I don't remember the exact quote from Grant's memoirs, but he said something to the effect that he respected the Confederates' bravery and fighting ability, but was appalled by the cause for which they fought.

The other point that bothered me is their revisionist history. The man I talked to did not seem willing to admit that slavery was one of the major causes and issues of the Civil War. He saw the war more in terms of individual liberties vs big government, as if we could take the exact rhetoric of today's conservative vs liberal view of the federal government and project it back to 1861.

Although these men seemed harmless and I respect their right to their beliefs, some people may want to tell the City how they feel about the appropriateness of such an activity at a City sponsorsored event.

-- Bob Mauri (, December 21, 2000.

I'm not a Kentlands resident, so take my response with a grain of salt (I heard about this from a good friend of mine who does live in Kentlands), but I think that, barring some truly transparently virulent message they may be transmitting whose delivery transcends any level of civil discourse, people affiliated with such a group ought to be able to have some free speech opportunities, particularly if they are Kentlands residents (I assume they are?).

I think it sends the wrong message to the community, and particularly community youth, if groups like this are shut down just because people disagree (even vehemently) about their message. That's just another form of intolerance, but more important, it removes a possibility for educating people about counter-messages.

Isn't it ultimately more valuable, with this visual prompting, to be able to discuss the Confederacy with one's friends and kids and reaffirm one's views, than to eliminate this opportunity and have people forget about the issue or blunt their awareness and assume that potential Confederacy supporters don't really exist in Montgomery County? And who knows? Engaging these folks in a civilized, principled discussion of Civil War issues might even change their views or one's own about the specifics of a particular debate. Sometimes, silencing these voices and various opportunities for dialogue (with friends and foes) is the biggest injustice.

-- Malcolm Russell-Einhorn (, December 22, 2000.

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