Guest commentary: The issue at school isn’t Confederate flag shirts

Naples Daily News
Sunday, September 28, 2003

By TODD M. SLOAN, Special to the Daily News

I have been following this controversy surrounding the Confederate flag. There appear to be many more supporters than there are dissenters.

I am the father of the two boys who refused to remove their Confederate flag shirts and were sent home from school at Naples High.

My entire point in this matter is simple discrimination. The school was teaching the students that discrimination is all right.

My children stated the point that I have always taught them: Discrimination should never be allowed! Why should my children have to hide a shirt representing their Southern heritage and yet at the same time all of the other students are allowed to wear shirts and symbols of their heritage? Most of those students have never even been to their homelands.

And a quick message to all the bigots out there who believe that the Confederate flag represents slavery and oppression. You need to research the subject more efficiently yourselves before you spew forth your drivel.

The Confederate flag is nothing more than a soldier’s flag — a banner that distinguished one side of the combatants from the other. Unfortunately, a few hate groups have picked it up as their personal banner and we cannot prevent this any more than we can prevent a so-called American from burning the American flag in protest of our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I blame the current school system for the controversy over this. When I went to school, American history was taught in truthful facts — not pacified, colorized misinformation. Why weren’t the students who verbally attacked the young lady who was wearing a Confederate flag shirt reprimanded? Why were they rewarded with the school deciding to ban the Confederate flag only? Why didn’t the school immediately enforce their own policy banning all flags? Why must our students be forced to honor other heritages such as the celebration of Haitian Week, or Black American History Month, or Cinco de Mayo, and at the same time be forced to deny their own heritage?

I am not in any way a racist! In fact, one of my sons who refused to remove his Confederate flag shirt is part black himself. And I have never told him to deny any part of his mixed heritages.

I am temporarily content that the school has seen the errors of its ways as far as blatant discrimination goes, but what I am hoping to achieve as an end result is for all of our diverse groups to come together as Americans should and tell the schools that by prohibiting the honoring of all of our different heritages, they are trampling all of our First Amendment rights, and this will not be tolerated either!

Let’s put American history back in our classrooms! Didn’t Sept. 11, 2001, teach us anything? If we forget history, we are doomed to repeat it. We are all Americans!

P.S. — I am a U.S. Army veteran and proud Southern American.

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