Harrison, Arkansas Battle Flag Ban
This fell into my hands recently.
You can see that the respondent affixed my letter to a letter to someone else — someone else whose opinions, it seems, are the same as my own:
Dear Mr. McClendon,
Unfortunately, our community probably understands prejudice and bigotry more than most. Our local area is listed as home to four separate hate groups. One group proclaims Harrison as the National Headquarters of the KKK. Given that type of publicity, Harrison is often perceived to be a completely racist community even though the supporters of the hate groups are a very small minority. That perception has far reaching effects. Our students are often challenged about their “racist views” when traveling to other schools or when they move away to college. It is harder to attract businesses, tourists and economic development because decision makers want no part of a culture of hate. We know what it is like to be judged before people know the true facts.
I believe there is confusion regarding a Confederate flag ban in Harrison . We are a community that is proud of its history. A flag display sits beside the Chamber showcasing the flags of the 5 governing bodies that have held power over this area – Spain , France , Confederate States of America , Arkansas and U.S. The flag is the first national flag of the Confederacy, the Stars and Bars. In addition, there is a Confederate monument on our courthouse lawn honoring Confederate veterans. The monument was donated by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and dedicated in 1986. The names of the veterans are listed and a Confederate flag flies beside it. The Sons of the Confederate Veterans manned a booth during the community fall festival two weeks ago, teaching about the Confederate flags and the Southern point of view about the Civil War.
The issue that concerns the Chamber is the use of the Confederate Battle Flag by hate/racist groups. I am a Chamber volunteer working with a committee to draft guidelines for participation and activities during Chamber sponsored events that will support the mission and stance of the organization while developing relationships with those interested in preserving the history and legacy of our area. I have a long interest in this subject and was interviewed for a PBS special that aired last year. I defended the role of the Confederate flag as a symbol of our history, not as a symbol of hate.
Our work here is continuing. We have had several meetings with the local participants who are involved in this discussion. Our goal is to project the truth of our community’s past and present.
Thank you for taking the time to write,
Harrison Chamber Volunteer
From: Clifton McLendon
My friend Jason Rice informs me that you are still refusing to lift the ban you imposed upon display of the Confederate Battle Flag.
You agreed many months ago to meet with Mr. Rice and other interested parties to discuss the ban — but you have yet to honor that agreement.
I explained to you in detail some months ago that the Confederate Battle Flag is not objectionable in the least; that the only thing objectionable is various malcontents’ abuse of it. I allude particularly to the Ku Kluxers and other low-lifes of their kind.
To refresh your memory, I give you again two definitions from Webster?s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged
(Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.; 1981):
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.
BIGOTRY: Obstinate and unreasoning attachment to one?s own belief and opinions with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.
Your ban shows that you have an unreasonable predilection against the Confederate Battle Flag. That you hold that unreasonable predilection even after I have explained matters to you indicates that you hold your opinion without just grounds. Your opinion constitutes an irrational attitude of hostility directed against Confederate supporters as a group, and an obstinate and unreasoning attachment to your beliefs with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.
In short, by persisting in your ban, you are showing yourselves to be prejudiced bigots.
Is that really the image you want to project?
Clifton Palmer McLendon