An Open Letter
 
From: cliftonpalmermclendon@yahoo.com
To: cityofodum@windstream.net
 
This e-mail concerns the act of vandalism and theft of private property committed in connection with the funeral and burial of Mr. Harry Jones of your city – specifically, the removal of the Confederate Battle Flags placed by his family and friends.
 
First, some definitions [taken from Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.; 1981)]:
 
BIGOTRY: Obstinate and unreasoning attachment to one’s own belief and opinions with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.
 
PREJUDICE: Unreasonable predilection for or objection against something; or an opinion or leaning adverse to anything without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge; or an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics; or an opinion or judgment formed beforehand or without due examination.
 
The rationale given for removing the Confederate Battle Flags placed for Mr. Jones’s funeral was that the Confederate Battle Flag “represented hatred of blacks”.
 
Many people believe that the Confederate Battle Flag is a symbol of hatred because some groups that are undeniably bent on hatred utilize that Flag. Such observers reason somewhat as follows:
 
1. [Group] openly preaches hatred.
2. [Group] also openly displays the Confederate Battle Flag.
3. The Confederate Battle Flag, therefore, is a symbol of hatred.
 
A look at http://pointsouth.com/csanet/kkk.htm will show that the Ku Kluxers (who make no secret of their hatred for blacks) make heavy use of the thirteen-stripe United States Flag.
 
To return to the syllogism:
 
1. The Kluxers  openly preach hatred.
2. The Kluxers  also openly display the Confederate Battle Flag.
3. The Confederate Battle Flag, therefore, is a symbol of hatred.
 
Continuing from the information given at http://pointsouth.com/csanet/kkk.htm:
 
4. The Kluxers  also openly display the United States Flag.
 
… one might draw any of several conclusions.
 
Three possible conclusions:
 
5a. The United States Flag, therefore, is also a symbol of hatred of blacks.
 
Those who draw Conclusion 5a have a difficult proposition to defend. Many people view the United States Flag as a symbol of human rights.
 
5b. The syllogism only applies to hatemongers’ use of the Confederate Battle Flag — it does not apply to hatemongers’ use of the United States Flag.
 
Those who draw Conclusion 5b also have a difficult proposition to defend. Theirs is to explain why the same act by the same people degrades one Flag but not the other, and why they themselves are not hypocrites for applying a double standard.
 
5c.  Hatemongers’ use of a symbol (whether the United States Flag, the Confederate Battle Flag, or some other symbol) makes that symbol a symbol used (or abused) by hatemongers rather than a symbol of hatred.
 
Those who draw Conclusion 5c appear to be on much more solid philosophical grounds, with a far more defensible viewpoint, that those who draw Conclusion 5a or 5b. A symbol has only such meaning as is assigned to it.
 
Your removal of the Confederate Battle Flags in connection with Mr. Jones’s funeral showed that you had an unreasonable objection against the Confederate Battle Flag. The opinion that the Confederate Battle Flag was a symbol of hatred was formed without just grounds, without due examination, and before sufficient knowledge. The removal showed an irrational attitude of hostility directed against Mr. Jones’s family and friends.
 
An abject apology to Mr. Jones’s family and friends is in order, and quickly. Failure to offer that apology will show that you have an obstinate and unreasoning attachment to your belief and opinion with intolerance of the belief and sensibilities of Mr. Jones’s family and friends.
 
Do you really want the world to know that the mayor and city council of Odum, Georgia are prejudiced bigots?
 
Clifton Palmer McLendon
Gilmer, Texas