Group’s Giant Confederate Flag Flies In The Face Of Good Taste

The Tampa Tribune
Published: June 4, 2008

It’s understandable that members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans don’t want their loved ones or heritage to be forgotten. Who does?

But the group’s decision to fly a mammoth Confederate flag near the junction of interstates 4 and 75 is an in-your-face gambit that will only prove divisive.

Members insist the 30-foot-tall, 50-foot-wide flag is all about honoring their heritage. But if that were the case, a more dignified memorial being built near the base of 139-foot flagpole would have sufficed.

This flag is billed as "the world’s largest." It’s meant to provoke a reaction. And for those trying to attract businesses, conventions, tourists or top talent to our community, the reaction will be resoundingly negative.

Consider the National Football League, which will stage the Super Bowl in Tampa next year. The NFL is sensitive to symbols of exclusion. In 1991, when the Super Bowl was held here, it took serious exception to the all-male membership of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla. With this giant rebel flag at our front door, it’s hard to imagine the NFL would delight in choosing Tampa again.

What the Sons fail to appreciate is that for many people, the Confederate battle flag represents a period in this nation’s history when all people were not treated equally. Even today, some people with racist views wrap themselves in the battle flag, no matter the flag’s history.

Ever since the state removed the Confederate flag from the Capitol in Tallahassee about eight years ago, the Sons have made it a mission to fly gigantic rebel flags in communities across Florida.

During the recent legislative session, they also tried – but failed – to gain approval for a specialty license tag that bore of the flag’s image.

It’s unfortunate that Hillsborough commissioners changed the sign ordinance about four years ago to exclude flags. As a result, businesses regularly skirt the ordinance by flying gigantic American flags – or dozens of high-flying flags – to draw the eyes of passers-by.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans has the constitutional right to fly the flag, and the project appears to meet all codes and rules.

But if the group is sincere about wanting to honor its heritage, it would make the flag’s size proportional to the veterans’ memorial below. That would be the neighborly thing to do. Yet in its quest for attention, the Sons overlook the greater good. It’s a selfish move.

No group or individual should tarnish the reputation of a community when more subtle accommodations can be made.

©2008 Media General Communications Holdings

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