Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2007

Dr. Sorenson:

Certainly, yesterday’s tragic events at Virginia Tech have had an impact on everyone, especially in the education community. No doubt you and your staff are considering ways to prevent USC from experiencing that same pain brought on by a madman’s actions. Blessings on your efforts as you seek to provide a safe environment for your student body.

Though it does not carry the weight of the previously discussed issue, I feel compelled, as a citizen of this state to write to you about Coach Spurrier’s comments. For good or bad, he does represent USC.

First of all, let me commend him for the statement that the Confederate flag does not hamper recruiting. Individuals make the best decisions for themselves regarding education, business and other primary concerns. They are not reactive to our state’s history to the extent that it effects decisions relevant to their lives. This is a very welcoming state and any attempt to characterize it otherwise is ridiculous.

However, just as that statement was astute, his observation that he didn’t know anyone that wanted the flag at the Statehouse is incredible. Polls in 2000 leading up to the legislative action that moved the flag showed an overwhelming majority favored either its past position at the dome or the present site at the Soldiers’ Monument. He works in font of 80,000 plus at Williams-Brice Stadium – I’m certain thousands of those people would be glad to introduce themselves to him as “flag supporters.”

More to the point, we need to get beyond the perception of the flag as a symbol of racism. When a symbol is misused, that makes a statement about the individual doing the misuse, not the symbol. For instance, we have seen, on our local news, people taken into custody by the police wearing Gamecock apparel. That does not make the University of South Carolina inherently evil, does it?

71,000 South Carolina men went to war in defense of their home state (this included Wade Hampton and a dozen other Confederate generals that were graduates of what is now USC). Depending on the region, maybe 2%-6% of Confederate soldiers were slaveholders. The others did not put their lives on the line simply for the economic benefit of the wealthy elite. Furthermore, it took President Lincoln, author of some extremely racists statements, two years after the war’s beginning to make the Emancipation Proclamation, which did nothing to free slaves living in the north.

That flag is a soldier’s flag. It stands for the men, white and black, that wore gray to defend against Federal invasion. Secession was a right championed, in previous decades, by no less an authority than John Adams.

The flag is of noble origin and is in a context acceptable to an overwhelming majority of this state’s population. Coach Spurrier’s words were ill-conceived and undercut the good job he has done as, perhaps, the most widely recognized ambassador of the University of South Carolina.

Just as the flag can not be characterized by those with agendas of hate and ignorance, so Coach Spurrier and his brilliant career should not be characterized by his recent misdeeds. I would not suggest his firing. The hope of an SEC Championship is something all citizens of this state look forward to.

However, no amount of success in athletics can be an acceptable price for the memory of the brave soldiers of any war, but certainly not this conflict which became the defining event in American history.

An apology from Coach Spurrier and the administration he represents is in order. His words were a form of bigotry, just as what Don Imus said a few days earlier, and should be repudiated.

I would be glad to facilitate a healing event. We have a large camp (chapter) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) in Columbia. I would be happy to meet you and Coach Spurrier there for their next monthly meeting.

Gene Hogan
1962 Trimbleston Place
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 330 – 3585

Lt. Commander
SC Division, SCV