The Confederate Flag Causes Controversy at the Golden Corral
In checking your website today, I read the on-line article entitled "The Confederate Flag Causes Controversy at the Golden Corral", and I feel a need to make an observation regarding the article generally, but more specifically, the absurd comment by customer Angel Mendez: "I found it to be very offensive. This is not something that should be done in public. There are a lot of other people in this community who find that symbol as an offensive symbol and so we walked out."
First of all, I wonder if Mr. Mendez considers the fact that Tallahassee is the capital city in a Southern State that was once a member of the Confederate States of America. In fact, it was the third State to secede from the Union, having done so in early 1861. As such, there are a great many Southerners–Floridians included–who not only acknowledge this historical fact, but are very proud of their Confederate ancestors who fought for what they believed in, and in defense of their homes, families, and neighbors. These Southerners have every right to display their ethnic pride in public, just as do any other Americans, be they red, yellow, black, or white. Mr. Mendez needs to remember that Southerners come in all races, all colors, and all religions–we are not all white Anglo-Saxon protestant males., and while he may think that "There are a lot of other people in this community who find that symbol as an offensive symbol," he needs to also realize that, by the same token, there are a lot of people in this community who do NOT find the symbol offensive, and, as a matter of fact, hold it in very high regard. I happen to be one of them.
Obviously, Mr. Mendez is of Hispanic heritage, judging from his name. By the way, a large number of Hispanics served in the armies of the Confederacy, and the SCV has quite a few proud Hispanic members as a result. Regardless of whether he is Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or any number of other Hispanic ethnicities, would he consider it proper for an American of another ethnicity to complain if he were a member of a group who displayed the flag of his ancestors? I feel certain that Mr. Mendez would consider the complainant to be "racist", "bigoted", "xenophobic", and "elitist". As a Southerner who had ancestors who fought and died protecting their families and homes from attack by the Union Army, I have to say that I believe any of those adjectives could also be used to describe Mr. Mendez’ stated views.
Many Americans have recently been offended by displays in our country of the Mexican flag flying in a superior position to that of the U.S. flag. During the Vietnam War, many Americans were been offended by displays of the North Vietnamese flag by demonstrators. I recently traveled to San Francisco and saw many prominent displays of the rainbow flag representing militant homosexuality, which personally offended me as an evangelical Christian, but I am not so intolerant of others’ views that I begrudge them the opportunity to make their own statements political.
The fact of the matter is, I served for 28 years in the United States Army defending every American’s rights to free speech, free expression, and freedom of association. As long as the political statements of others–and the display of the Confederate flag is a form of political expression as well as of pride in one’s heritage–do not cause harm to other Americans nor damage to public or private property, I believe it is every American’s right to express himself freely. Such expression was the intent of the Founding Fathers, it was defined as "inalienable" by the Declaration of Independence, and it is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
If Mr. Mendez is offended by freedom of expression in a private meeting held in a public restaurant, then he may be demonstrating an intolerance and bigotry which is considered by many Americans today to be a painful reminder of the America’s sins of yesteryear.
In closing, Mr. Mendez needs to realize that the Sons of Confederate Veterans has existed as a hereditary organization for over 100 years which has as its goal the same virtues as other hereditary organizations in this country such as the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. This organization honors the sacrifices and memories of the Confederate soldier, who has been looked upon throughout the 20th Century as a valiant warrior who fought bravely against insurmountable odds in defense of his beliefs and those of his country. Mr. Mendez really needs to research the history and mission of the SCV before he begins making disparaging remarks which serve only to display his personal ignorance and lack of tolerance for his fellow Americans.
LTC D. A. Anthony (Ret.)