A Northern voice
 
From: vaproto@optonline.net
To: hernrydarby@msn.com
 
Sir:
 
You say that have received “hateful” communications with regard to your demand for the removal of historic flags from The Citadel.
 
Of course, no decent, objective person would send any message that could be rationally considered “hateful,” but I have also found after many years of debating the issues surrounding the effort of the Southern States to leave a union that had become hostile to their citizens that “hateful” is often another way of identifying cogent, intelligent opinions that differ from one’s own point of view. And usually, the more cogent and intelligent, the more eager the recipient is to play the well-known “race card.” If I disagree with you, goes the game, I am a racist. Now, I do not know if you hold to that unfortunate point of view, but I wish to declare “up front,” as they say, that nothing I write to you can possibly be considered “hateful” unless, of course, you hold the above point of view.
 
Sadly, you and so many others are victims of a “history” that never existed. Often this historical narrative flies in the face not of Southern accounts, but of Northern ones as well. The flags which you find offensive never flew over any ship transporting slaves from Africa where black captives of interminable tribal wars were sold to Europeans by their own people. “Roots” is a total fiction! Indeed, the flag that flew from the mastheads of slave ships is the same flag (minus a number of stars) that presently flies over the Capitols in both Washington and Columbia!
 
But more to the point, since debating history is not permitted in these “politically correct” days (lest the truth be revealed!), it is time to recognize the fact that other people have opinions too. As well, "being offended" is not found in the Constitution! Quite the opposite, in fact! The First Amendment protects not profanity or obscenity, but unpopular political speech and thus, under that Amendment you are free to call for the censorship of the flag of the Confederate States of America – a constitutionally formed government on the North American continent – but you have no right to demand that censorship, not as a citizen and certainly not as a “public servant.”
 
If you cannot bring yourself to permit your fellow South Carolinians to have those freedoms which you and those who want what you demand, then I would suggest that you put the matter up for the vote and let the people of South Carolina decide. And once they have spoken in referendum, I would further suggest that, if the matter goes against you, you accept their decision and let the flags fly.
 
Valerie Protopapas,
Huntington Station, New York