Lawsuit over removal of a Confederate flag from Augusta Riverwalk



You have my sympathy regarding the Confederate flag censorship problem that you are having in Augusta, Georgia. We have the same problem here in Los Angeles because the L.A. County Board of Supervisors decided a few years ago to remove a Confederate flag (the 1st National) from a display of historical flags in the Los Angeles Civic Center. You are very fortunate that Georgia has a lot more people who are willing to do something about this kind of censorship.

Before, the NAACP was telling everyone that its goal was just the removal of Confederate flags that are in "positions of sovereignty." Now the NAACP is showing its true agenda by trying to remove Confederate flags that are in strictly historical and educational contexts.

The issue in the lawsuit is evidently whether the Confederate flag display was a military monument or merely part of a "flag terrace." Unfortunately, the news reports did not shed any light on this issue. Some questions — (1) What did the covered-up descriptive inscription for the Confederate flag say? (2) What do the descriptive inscriptions for the other flags say? (3) What is the name of the flag terrace, if it has a name? and (4) Are there military monuments elsewhere on the Riverwalk?

Anyway, I assert that Confederate flags mostly represent military history because the history of the Confederacy was mostly military. The Confederacy was engaged in total war for almost its entire existence. Most of the well-known Confederate leaders were military leaders rather than political leaders. And the only really well-known Confederate flag — the battle flag (formally called "naval jack" in its rectangular version) — was a military flag and was never the national flag of the Confederacy. So I think that the city’s distinction between military and non-military displays of Confederate flags is a nit-picking one.

Also, the NAACP says that Confederate flags belong only in museums. But what are these outdoor displays of historical flags if they are not outdoor museums ?

Have any people or organizations other than the NAACP complained about this flag on the Riverwalk? If not, then why did the city government assume that the flag was seriously hurting the city’s image and/or businesses? Maybe the city officials do not understand that one of the cardinal rules of good government is, "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it."

I am sure that the controversy over the exclusion of women from membership in Augusta National Golf Club (home of the Masters Tournament) cost the city an awful lot more money than display of this flag ever could, but city officials and businesspeople saw this flag as a much easier target than the golf club. Of course, since the golf club is private, the city has no direct control over its membership policies, but I wonder if the city applied any pressure to the club to admit women because the controversy was hurting business.

The NAACP of South Carolina was upset over the failure of the continued NAACP boycott of that state, so they went to Augusta, Georgia, to stir up trouble, and Augusta’s government officials fell for it. The NAACP boycott of SC fizzled after that state removed the Confederate flags from the Statehouse’s (capitol’s) dome and legislative chambers and replaced them with a flag over a monument on the Statehouse grounds.

I wish you good luck with your lawsuit. I think that the city’s request for a jury trial is a good sign, because it shows that the city may be lacking confidence. The city probably figures that juries are more easily swayed by emotional arguments than judges are (actually, I think that juries often have more common sense than judges do).

Larry Fafarman
Los Angeles

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