OPINION COLUMNS

Flagged down: Skipping town for better lunch

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, June 27, 2015
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On a much-needed vacation, my wife and I finished a trip in the Ozarks in Arkansas.

After a few days enjoying the hospitality of Southwest Missouri, including nightly cobbler, we were looking forward to the quaint charm of Eureka Springs.

Soon after crossing the border into Arkansas, we drove into a little nondescript town of just a few hundred people. Rounding a corner, the first sight was a rundown house with the Stars and Bars waving proudly in the front yard. It was almost like a welcoming sign.

Richard Greene

Richard Greene

My wife and I quickly agreed, “I don’t think we’ll stop for lunch in this town.”

Our trip through the Arkansas burg was just a few hours before Dylann Roof carried out the massacre in a Charleston, S.C. church.

Now, I’ll be first to admit it’s unfair to paint this town with a broad brush based on this one flag. But as a journalism teacher told me many moons ago, “perception is reality.”

While some point to heritage and history as the reason that flag is flown, the history associated with it is not positive, especially for anyone of varying ethnicity or beliefs.

In the past week, there’s been momentum toward taking down the Stars and Bars at the South Carolina capitol, and some major retailers have elected to stop selling items with the flag.

Even close to home, there’s been a new push in Denton to take down the Confederate soldier monument.

These efforts should be applauded as governments should not include these divisive images in or around buildings and grounds they maintain. Yes, it’s history, but so are many other regrettable decisions, incidents and events that are not on display as painful reminders of the past.

But as for individuals, they should be protected to fly the flag and do as they please. Just as it’s legal, though I don’t condone it, to burn the American flag.

That’s one of the pillars our nation is founded on, the freedom of speech and expression. Though those speaking or making a public display of their beliefs may be spreading hate or just plain ignorance, it’s not our government’s role to police. That’s for the court of popular opinion.

But those individuals should not be offended by the reactions of others, including skipping town for lunch down the road.

Richard Greene is sports editor of the Wise County Messenger.

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