"Not my" Confederate Battle Flag - Photo from CBS News

For the past four years a group of us have protested the decision by the county fair board to allow the sale of the Confederate battle flag at the county fair. And for four years a group of people have offered up a variety of excuses defending that decision.

Those excuses include, “it’s free speech and even hate speech is protected”; ” it’s heritage not hate”; “ignore it and it will go away”; “if you don’t like it don’t buy it”; and my least favorite, “the county has bigger problems”. While it is true that even hate speech is protected by the 1st Amendment, we have all seen the results of hate speech during these past four years.. Dylann Roof killed nine black church members in Charleston; Robert Bowers killed eleven Jews at a synagogue in Pittsburgh; and a few weeks ago a 21 year old white male killed 22, mostly Hispanic residents of El Paso. Each of these killers posted public statements expressing hate based on religion or ethnicity. Roof even posed with that flag.

How much more proof do the excusers need, to be convinced that hateful thoughts lead to hateful speech which in turn leads to hateful, violent acts. And no, you are not a “hater”, as one excuser declared, for protesting a symbol of hate. That’s a nonsensical statement. As for Lorain county’s “bigger problems”, when you are the victim of hate, when people resurrect symbols used to maintain a system of discrimination against you, a system that denied your very humanity, then there is no bigger problem.

I understand that many Lorain Countians just want us and this issue to go away. The soul of this nation is forever stained by the sin of slavery. No one can take that away, but we can say no to attempts to take us back to those days or to glorify that hateful “heritage”.

Anthony B. Giardini

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