Executive director says ‘no motive, no agenda’ behind Southern symbol
By ROBERT WILSON, rlwilson2594@msn.com
July 27, 2005

MARYVILLE – Declaring that "diversity means I have a right to celebrate my heritage," Roger W. McCredie, executive director of the Southern Legal Resource Center in Asheville, N.C., says displays of the Confederate battle flag are "a Southern thing. No motive, no agenda."

And to those who connect the flag to ethnic bias, he says:

"Racism is to this generation what communism was to the last generation. It’s the accusatory ‘ism’ of choice."

McCredie is working with a group of Maryville residents who are seeking to retain the Confederate battle flag as a spirit symbol at Maryville High School, home of the Rebels.

The city’s board of education met Tuesday night to consider a policy change that would bar the Confederate battle flag – effectively all flags except those approved by the school administration – from school-sponsored events.

The Confederate flag has long been a tradition at Maryville High School sports events.

In a phone interview from his Asheville office, McCredie said he would meet with supporters of the flag in the next couple of weeks to "explore legal options."

McCredie, who has written a pair of Internet articles that take critical looks at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Poverty Law Center, says the Constitution "does not guarantee the right not to be offended."

"Our position is that flags should not be removed if they are removed simply in order to appease somebody or not offend somebody, " he said.

McCredie acknowledged that the policy change before the Maryville board is titled "Event Safety," but he said, "We can all snicker up our sleeves at that."

"Nobody has had an eye put out, and there have been no incidents arising out of it."

Moreover, he said, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which handles cases for Tennessee, has ruled in a flag-related case that "the apprehension of trouble is not sufficient to deny the civil rights" of someone who chooses to display the Confederate flag or a representation of it on their clothes.

"All we are trying to do in our humble way," he said, "is to see to it that" people are allowed to "express pride in who they are."

McCredie’s Southern Legal Resource Center is helping a young woman in Kentucky who was denied entry to her high school prom because the evening dress she wore was styled after the Confederate flag.

The SLRC bills itself as a civil rights law firm that specializes in cases involving Southern heritage and culture. Its motto is: "Defending the rights of Southerners to honor their culture and heritage." The group’s logo bears the words "Justice for Dixie."

Copyright 2005, Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.

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