2019-04-10 / Letters

Confederate Flag Sends Hateful Message

I attended the Cornell Cooperative Extension meeting where residents spoke out against the presence of confederate flags at the Delaware County Fair. Everyone who spoke, including Democratic Committee Chairperson Kathleen Hayek, made passionate, eloquent, reasonable arguments about why they want our fair and our community to be welcoming to everyone, and how the confederate flag detracts from those goals.

In a letter last week, James Thomson disparaged Ms. Hayek for her remarks at the meeting, which he did not attend. Never at any time did Ms. Hayek “accuse the entire county population of being ‘hateful,’” as Mr. Thomson falsely alleged. She argued that the confederate flag sends a hateful message about our county to residents and visitors alike, and she was right. She spoke about staffing the Democratic committee booth at the fair with a fellow committee member who is African American, and becoming aware of how hurtful that image was - he also spoke at the CCE meeting and described how the Confederate flag made him feel “humiliated.”

The presence of confederate flags at the fair does send a hateful message that people of color are not welcome or wanted at our fair. In the past several years, hundreds of us have petitioned the fair board to follow the example of the New York State Fair and instruct its vendors not to sell or display racist merchandise - just as they already instruct vendors not to sell or display pornography, alcohol, and other legal but objectionable materials at a family event.

This movement is growing, and it will not go away. In just the past month, two more New York county fairs have adopted policies prohibiting Confederate and other racist merchandise at their fairs (Tioga County Fair and Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair).

The First Amendment does give individuals the right to sell and display Confederate flags, Nazi flags, ISIS flags, etc. It also guarantees citizens’ right to call out these symbols for what they are: bigoted and hateful. Thank you, Ms. Hayek, for your courage and leadership. Our fair should be a Fair for All.



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