Monday, May 31, 2010


Without slavery, there never would have been a rebel flag

John Gripentrog is an assistant professor of history at Mars Hill College.

The recent uproar at Sullivan South over the Confederate flag, the most popular symbol of the Civil War, reminds us of the importance of understanding our own past. The “flag issue” invariably raises blood pressures, rouses righteous rhetoric, and all too often misses the deeper historical significance. It’s time we get it right. Only by facing the past with integrity and courage will we as a nation progress toward a more perfect union. To this end, what’s needed is an honest appraisal of the core issue — one that gets beyond hackneyed justifications and goes to the heart of the matter.
The Confederate flag emerged out of civil war, so the crucial question remains: What was the principal cause of violence between the states? Was the war fought over states’ rights? Yes, but states’ rights for what? Over Fifth Amendment property rights? Sure, but property rights regarding what? Over regional economics? Of course, but what was the foundation of the South’s economy? No matter how one cuts it, the unequivocal answer to each question is slavery (or, more precisely, its expansion into the western territories). There is no war between North and South, and, thus, no rebel flag, without slavery — period.
A preferred explanation among pro-flag backers is that the flag is about “heritage” and not hate. But civil war did not come between North and South because of Northern disdain for Southern heritage. President Lincoln never denounced Southern architecture, folk music, religiosity, or diet. A better insight into the flag’s heritage can be found in the Confederate constitution, which guaranteed the right to own slaves no less than nine times. Or on various Confederate currencies, which often depicted laboring slaves. Moreover, the notion of “heritage” begs the question: whose heritage? Most of the Deep South states had a slave population that outnumbered white residents.
Not only must we recognize that the war was fundamentally premised on slavery, it is also important to reflect soberly on the nature of slavery. It is all too easy to let the word “slavery” pass between one’s lips without appreciating the consequences of that profound imbalance of power — the violence, the prevalence of sexual abuse and rape, and the routine selling of human beings as one would sell a mule. Imagine if you will a knock at your door this evening by someone who has come to take away forever your spouse, a child, siblings, or parents. That was the reality of the Civil War’s fundamental cause.
Still, it is also important to distinguish between why Southern men eagerly signed up to fight for the Confederacy, as opposed to the war’s fundamental cause of slavery. Despite a single great cause, myriad reasons drove men to the battlefield (75 percent of Southerners did not own slaves). All we know for certain is that hundreds of thousands of men fought and died. As such, it is entirely appropriate to memorialize the Confederate dead by flying the battle flag at Civil War cemeteries. Beyond that, however, publicly displaying the flag remains historically na├»ve and deeply offensive.
In light of this contentious issue, it may be instructive for Americans to return to Lincoln’s words in his 1863 Gettysburg Address. By beginning his memorial speech, “Four score and seven years ago,” Lincoln returned not to the U.S. Constitution (whose compromises allowed for slavery’s continuation), but rather to the Declaration of Independence, which boldly declared that all men are created equal. The president concluded by solemnly urging the nation to dedicate itself to “a new birth of freedom.” The point was unmistakable: a civil war brought on by slavery necessitated a new birth of freedom.
The Confederate flag — a singular creation of the Civil War — remains first and foremost a symbol of the ambitions to preserve slavery and prevent a new birth of freedom in America. For Americans who have ignored this undeniable historical truth, may they be guided in the future by the better angels of their nature.
Removing flag would offend many

Margaret Murray wrote that the rebel flag represents bigotry, racism and hate and that it needs to be eradicated. I would assume she says this because it offends people. What about the people that are offended by removing this flag? No one seems to care what we like or don’t like. The flag represents history, not hate or racism. She moved to New Jersey for a reason, so let the ones still in town worry about what flag is flying above our schools.

Aaron Pierson Church Hill

Confederate flag was an inspiration

The Confederate flag seems to have always stirred controversy, especially among those who do not understand what it has always meant to the South. My great-great-grandfather, a Confederate soldier, did not own slaves. He and his family worked their land, and he fought to keep his land and Southern heritage intact. The Confederate flag was an inspiration to those soldiers to keep fighting, usually against all odds, much as the America flag does for our soldiers in Iraq today. It was not created as a symbol of bigotry or hatred, and I’m sure it is not meant as that at South High School. Jack Barnes, how does the opinion of one person outweigh that of the many? Doesn’t the majority rule, even in the South?

Diann Callahan Kingsport

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why I choose to fly three flags

I am tired of the slurs against flying the rebel flag. Flying the rebel flag isn’t necessarily a sign of bigotry or racism. If one is looking for bigotry and racism, that is exactly what they will find. I have an American flag, a Texas flag, and a rebel flag waving above my yard to commemorate and show respect for our servicemen and women, alive and deceased. The American flag is for all the men and women who have given their lives for American freedom and for all those still serving or have retired. I fly the Texas flag to commemorate and remember all the brave who gave their life so selflessly at the Alamo for our freedom. I fly the rebel flag to commemorate and remember all of the Americans who fought so gallantly on the Confederate side during the Civil War.
This includes the approximately 30,000 to 100,000 black men — the exact number will never be known due to so many records having been destroyed. I have spent 30 years active duty in the U.S. Army and 15 years civil service with the U.S. Navy. This service was beside and for some of America’s most worthy African-American men and women.
Jimmy R. Hensley
Church Hill

Ban rap music before banning flag

Ban the rebel flag from public display only after banning rap music from the airwaves.
Shane Miller
Gate City

People are too quick to take offense

I hope Sullivan South will not allow a few complaints about personal sensitivities to lead them to require students to give up their traditional athletic symbol. I don’t think it is possible to please all of the people all of the time, and efforts by the school to do just that would displease far more than the few who are quick to complain. Personal sensitivities and prejudices are sometimes given far too much importance by individuals and sometimes by groups and even societies. Some of us have individual dislikes that if taken seriously by society or government would impact the freedom and liberty of others. There are always some that dislike things or choices that others have the right to own or choose.
There have been complaints about owners of wooded property cutting down their own trees, the colors that some homeowners choose to paint their exteriors, satellite antennas and even pink flamingos on private property and countless others. I have my own personal sensitivities, but I do not expect others to be forced to accommodate them if they do not limit my personal freedom. The Confederate battle flag may remind some of slavery, but to school athletes it represents their team on the field of competitive sports and does not limit the freedom of those who are uncomfortable when they see it. We should try to not take offense when no offense is intended.
H. Herren Floyd

South alum is embarrassed by flag

Clayton, I couldn’t get past your first sentence. The actual Stars and Bars is the first national flag, which is an entirely different design. Maybe next time, Bigsby. James, stay on point, this article is about the display of the Confederate flag, not a god. You still have plenty of Christian schools and a church for each day of the year in this area. Joe, I attended Sullivan South High School. I was and I am still embarrassed by “our” flag. You can’t go out on a Thursday night without feeling like you’re in a scene from “A Time To Kill.” Jim, I agree. We almost rid the nation of the Native American race, I’m sure we can get rid of a mascot. Racist groups such as the Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan use the Southern Cross as their symbol. That’s enough to keep me Dixie-free. I’m not telling you to get rid of your preciouses. You’ve got your right to free speech. There will probably be heaps more of these flags waving because of this debate. I’m just not a fan.
Craig Douglas Moody II

We shouldn’t try to please everyone

My oldest and middle child attended South High School; my youngest will be there in two years. I am very disappointed that the school system is considering losing the rebel flag from South. It is part of our history — all of us, no matter the color of our skin. How can anyone say that what our country has been through in the past is not important? If the rebel flag goes, does the Indian go from Dobyns-Bennett High School? It is in the same category. Do we ban this also?
How about the Cougars of Central High? Should we never have an animal as a mascot because it may offend someone? We cannot please everyone, and we should not try to. It would be a world of total chaos. There are other schools these people can attend, and they need to as far as I am concerned.
Angela Brown

Friday, May 28, 2010

Use of flag is students’ decision

To Richard H. Blair’s letter May 26, a huge amen. I agree with him that Sullivan South’s use of the rebel flag is not the issue. If the students want to use it, they have every right to do so. This nation has much bigger fish to fry.
Rosemary T. Johnston
Fall Branch

Why bow to one person’s opinion?

Regarding rebel flag days at South may be numbered, I am a graduate of South as well as several other family members. In my years at South, the rebel flag was and still is regarded as a symbol of school spirit and Southern heritage. Are we going to allow one person’s view to wipe away a symbol of our school pride? Look back at what the prayer at the Gate City football game did. One person took offense at kids praying and called the ACLU on that. We do live in the South, where most of the Civil War was fought. This flay is just a symbol of our heritage and histor y.
Would this person take offense at a Civil War re-enactment, or the singing of the national anthem? Maybe we should ban that too. I am one-fourth Cherokee Indian, so if I find the Indian mascot at D-B offensive, can I suggest we have it banned also?
Shannon Barrett
Church Hill

Rebel flag is a positive symbol

The rebel flag belongs at South. It is a part of South High School. Thank God there is still a school with students who embrace the rebel flag as a positive symbol of courage, tenacity and spirit. If you don’t like their flag, then stay home. If students can’t stand for something, they will fall for anything. We live in America. Our freedom was bought by the blood of our soldiers. Stand up, South.
Georgia Russell

Thursday, May 27, 2010

African-Americans should speak out

There is no place for the rebel flag on any public school property in Kingsport. The African-American community should be outraged over this issue. This flag represents an example of bigotry, racism and hate that needs to be eradicated once and for all. There are the good old boys and rednecks that will never let go of their past, and like it or not they are in all levels of our government. Kingsport has a very small population of African-Americans, but they need to stand together on this issue and let their voices be heard.
Kingsport is my hometown, but I would never come back there to live. I visit often because my family is there. When I am there, I feel and see the racism. It cannot be denied. It is not alright to fly that flag on a public, taxpayer-supported building.
Margaret Murray
Winslow Township, N.J.

Forget the panel, keep the flag

Re. Rosemary Gray’s letter, no discussion panel is needed for the South High flag issue. Keep the flag — end of discussion. Ole Miss University gave in to all the politically correct garbage, and it should not happen here. Enough is enough. As for G.E. Rogers’ letter, Southern folks do not need him to tell us we lost the war and that we are obese. If fat Southerners waving the Stars and Bars offends him, maybe his profession could take him back to one of those other states.
We in the South surely do not wish to offend anyone, although sometimes the way we are criticized may urge us to keep fighting the war we lost.
Steve Falin

Let South students decide about flag

We know that society changes, yet in the South (secession being the primary cause of the Civil War, not slavery) there will always be noise in the background when it comes to the rebel flag or Confederate battle flag. History is unclear that it ever officially represented the CSA as a nation. It is often incorrectly referred to as the Stars and Bars.
The individual who finds display of the flag as part of a school-sponsored activity at Sullivan South High School offensive is within his or her rights. But the flag that matters in public schools is the U.S. flag that won the Civil War, to which Tennessee teaches the students to pledge allegiance. The noise is unfounded because there is no CSA anymore. The students’ display of the flag is a rallying cry because the football coach says they are going into battle. SSHS, since 1981, has never officially adopted the rebel flag’s use. But school officials have condoned it. Some would say looking the other way is the same thing.
I think the appointed committee should look at this as a teachable moment and let the juniors and seniors decide every two years if they want to change the mascot and flag. That way all students get to vote before they graduate. Replacing the rebel flag with the school flag or the Bonnie Blue flag, which would somewhat match the school colors, would be appeasement. I say keep the rebel flag. In fact, put one on each student’s desk to instill a pride for learning and watch those home team test scores light up the scoreboard.
Earl Johnson
Eidson, Tenn.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rebel Flag Flap at Sullivan South: An Editorial


You've come a long way, baby.

We're not talking about cigarettes.

Relations between Black America and White America has come a long way. We've all been through a lot.

It has only been a year since our wonderful city was shocked by racial graffiti scrawled on the I-26 Meadowview overpass, some of it directed at President Obama. At this writing, the young man accused in the case is requesting judicial diversion. The incident was embarrassing to both blacks and whites in Kingsport, and was promptly and properly denounced by both.

And now, once again, racial intolerance rears its ugly head just outside our doors. This time, in the form of the rebel flag, waved by our neighbors who may not really understand what it means.

At a public institution of learning, of all places.

There probably is not an African-American in this country that can look at the rebel flag, and not have disdain for what it represents in our history. We will not debate the emotional controversy evoked by the rebel flag. It was carried by Confederates during the Civil War, and later waved by hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Period. 'Nuff said.

Unfortunately, now, the rebel flag is being waved by a whole new generation. A generation that may not understand why it is offensive to many people. And not just a few hundred people. More like... several MILLION.

This new generation says, the rebel flag is all about heritage, not hate. They say, their forefathers fought and died for the rebel flag. They will tell you that, to respect their ancestors, means respect for the rebel flag.

Should ancestral respect be more important, than respect for millions of people who find the rebel flag offensive? Perhaps in their own homes on their own property.. but not on public school grounds paid for by public tax dollars, or school-sponsored public events.

It was just recently that a young 18-year-old aspiring Marine candidate was rejected by the U.S. Marine Corps, because he has the tatoo of a rebel flag on his shoulder.
Click here to read the article from World Net Daily.

The issue of the rebel flag on public school property has also come up before. The
6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati dismissed a lawsuit filed over the ban of the rebel flag at Maryville (Tennessee) High School in 2008.
Click here to read the Wikipedia article where the ban was upheld at Maryville High School.

A case from William Blount High School in Blount County was also upheld to ban the rebel flag from public school property. The case from William Blount eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the 6th Circuit Court's decision to ban the flag.
Click here to read the article on the Blount High School case.

These are legal precedents that cannot be ignored in Sullivan South's case.

Whether Sullivan South has ever named the rebel flag as its "official flag" does not matter. The Sullivan County School Board and its superintendent have jurisdiction over whether the flag can be brought onto school property and to school-sponsored events.

It is unfortunate that Sullivan South High School, an institution of excellent learning, where children take steps into adulthood, is dragged into the views of a few, which adversely affect everyone's learning opportunity. This is obviously not good publicity for the school. We would rather hear how well the students did on their statewide test scores, and more on their wonderful achievements in band and theatrical prowess. Instead, we are hearing a age-old battle that adults are waging for them.. a battle that has no winners. The Sullivan South students are innocent victims, manipulated into a stayed viewpoint, without the chance to research both sides and decide for themselves.

We are sad for them.

We do not object to the waving of the rebel flag. What a person does on private property is their own business. We object to the rebel flag being waved on public property, be it a public school, public park, or other city, county, state or federal property for which public tax dollars pay for.

We know that, in the end, the Sullivan County School Superintendent will do the right thing. We know that the Superintendent will make the decision that countless other school boards, superintendents and jurisdictions in Tennessee, and federal courts in this wonderful nation, have made before them.

A decision that bans the presence of the rebel flag on all public school grounds, and at any public school-sponsored events.

It is the right decision. It is the only decision.
Flag panel should be a diverse group

My former high school, Douglass High School in Kingsport, was a few miles from Sullivan South. Unlike a former resident from Gate City featured in a story in the local news, I have a very broad view of diversity, but do respect his First Amendment, free speech, rights and his views on the mascot of Sullivan South. I found some additional information online about the date Sullivan South was established (1981) and reviewed again the definition of the mascot and the history of this word, long associated with the past, yet having very similar connotations to the complexities that we see exhibited and at the root of many mental and physical challenges of community members who take sides on many community issues, not really for the sake of resolving an issue, but merely just jumping into the fray. I also am aware that school faculty and administrators are meeting to begin discussions about the mascot, as there are complaints, including from area schools.
I encourage this group to include current and former students as well as local community leaders in this discussion — a diverse group — and to develop a resolution that allows the local and regional community to see Sullivan South High School as the academic leader that it apparently is and not as the definition of the word “rebel.” A rebel is one who rebels or is in rebellion: “He is the perfect recruit for fascist movements: a rebel not a revolutionary, contemptuous yet envious of the rich and involved with them” (Stanley Hoffman). A rebel also can mean a Confederate soldier.

Rosemary Gray
Lake Charles, La.

Fight fat instead of a lost war

My profession has allowed me to live, work, and travel in all but a handful states. I have lived in the South for a number of years. I have also resided in the Northwest, Midwest, Southwest, and Mountain States. The one thing that is more evident every day I live in the South is the overweight grade school children, overweight middle school children, overweight high school children, overweight young adults and overweight older adults. From the looks of people, the South is a stroke or heart attack waiting to happen.
And it is just not me. When I have friends who come to visit from other parts of the U.S., they see and comment on the same thing I see. It is about time Southern folks gave up fighting the Civil War (you lost) and started fighting the war on fat. You can win this one if you try.
G.E. Rogers

Rebel flag isn’t the real issue

Who really believes there are those who are deeply hurt or have to seek psychiatric treatment when South High students run across the football field waving a rebel flag? The rebel flag isn’t the issue. It’s a matter of a few wanting to exert control over the freedoms long enjoyed by all Americans — their right to choose. If we are to put the rebel flag under the microscope, let’s do the same for others. Does calling D-B “the Indians” really glorify those of Indian descent? My grandchildren are part Cherokee. If one of them complains, is D-B ready to get a new nickname? And those Hilltoppers? Some might live in the desert with no hills to be seen. Aren’t we rubbing their sensitive nose in it by talking about “Hilltoppers” — whatever they are? Let’s call the schools the A’s, the B’s, the C’s, the D’s — that should end any controversy. I know, I’m getting ridiculous — but no more so than with the rebel flag being an issue. Once it’s gone, that’s not the end. There will always be a few more things for those in power to gain control of to remind you that they are in charge and that you are subservient to their wishes.
Americans are beginning to say enough. Whatever your office, you weren’t crowned king, and we can vote you out. And that’s the message we need to send about the rebel flag. Mind your own business, or we will vote you out. Our individual freedoms are important to us. Good Americans have fought and died to protect them. We don’t intend to let others trample on those rights. Keep it up and we will show you who has the power. It’s time to say enough, starting with the rebel flag issue.
Richard H. Blair

Others shouldn’t decide for South

We as graduates of Sullivan South High School have used the rebel flag as our school pride for years. There is always going to be someone not happy in any situation. Why let them get the best of the situation? In that case every school should not use their mascots for school pride. We are proud to be Rebels and show it by our school spirt, the flag being part of that. I graduated in 2002 and still show South’s pride. Everyone who enrolls in Sullivan County schools knows Sullivan South High School as the Rebels, and it has been since 1980. Why change it because people are offended by our flag? I am offended by them having more rights in this country than the people that started it. In that case there should be no flags, mascots or any symbols of school in the entire world.
So what if people were offended. Move on. The world needs God in school, and if people don’t start showing that He is our creator, we are in a world of trouble. I think having a mascot in school shows interest in school activities and helps keep kids out of trouble. They should not be able to choose for Sullivan South by being offended. Take a vote and let’s see what the public decides.
Regina Robinson

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Once Again, the Rebel Flag Comes Up

I can't believe that we are back here with this issue of the Rebel Flag. I am outraged that there is even a discussion on this issue. That flag represents such hatred and bigotry. The clan flies it proudly and you see it on the good old boy red necks trucks. It does not belong on public school property. Where are the good people of Kingsport, why aren't you protesting this outrageous decision.

Kingsport is a beautiful city, my place of birth, but this is why I can never live in this town again. I find it to be the most racist place I know and I am well traveled, lived and visited many states. I have never been called the N word any where else but Kingsport, Tennessee. I will continue to visit because my family is there but as for me, I will never live there. Say NO WAY to the Rebel Flag.

Margaret Leeper Murray
There’s nothing sinister about use of flag

For the past 30 years, Sullivan South students and alumni have proudly displayed the Confederate battle flag during sports contests involving their school. They are and always have been the Sullivan South Rebels, so carrying the Southern Cross to support their team has always been the natural and logical thing to do. They do it to support their team, not because they are racists, not because they support the institution of slavery, not because they despise people of color, but just because they support their team. They have no hidden agendas, no sinister plots, no secret pacts with any outside hate organization. The only thing they hate is to lose on the field of athletics. It is not their fault the Confederate battle flag has been hijacked in years past by those who have twisted and corrupted its true meaning. Hate organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and others have stolen the flag owned by the common Confederate soldier, the vast majority of which never owned any slaves and only fought in the Civil War because their homeland was being invaded and trampled under the boot heels of Yankee aggressors.
If the battle flag offends you, you need a history lesson. Just because there has been one single complaint about Sullivan South’s use of the common Confederate soldiers’ flag at sporting events, Jack Barnes proposes to hold trial on its right to even exist. With such politically correct knee-jerk reactions, it’s no wonder Barnes finds himself a lame duck. Support South before it’s too late.
Robert R. Wilhelm

Rebel flag belongs at South

It amazes me that one person or group can be disturbed about something and people fall apart. Just like taking prayer out of schools. The rebel flag should be at South along with the U.S. flag. It is a symbol of our heritage. Lots of people lost lives fighting for their rights. If someone doesn’t like it, they can go home or look the other way. They probably have something in their lives everyone else might not appreciate. I’m 67, born and raised in Ohio. My mother is from Rogersville, and I’ve been here 44 years. I love the rebel flag and what it stands for. I also love the American flag and Christian flag. I agree with your editorial about the fans who embrace the rebel flag as a positive symbol. This is my feeling about the rebel flag as well.
Sandra Martin

‘Pride’ is used to mask prejudice

The rebel flag does not represent pride. It tells me that there are still a lot of things going on that some folks don’t want to admit, but it still exists, and we use words like “pride” to cover for it. Let’s call it what it is: prejudice. I would not like to see a black child exposed to the rebel flag because to them it represents a time when they were in bondage without a voice. Why can’t we live our lives in a way that the Almighty intended and forget who is at the top? For one day, we will all be as one — in one place or the other.
Cecilia Henderson
Diversity excludes Southern heritage

The controversy about the Sullivan South mascot and the Confederate flag is political correctness gone amok. Today, one or two (or a very significant minority) can become offended at anything they dislike and get their will imposed on us. I am sick and tired of manufactured extortion in a time when our public officials seem to have no common sense or backbone. The perceived issue about Sullivan South should be relegated to the trash, and let’s get on with something important in our school system like improving education. Prior writers have addressed in an excellent manner the true nature of the Civil War and the ending of slavery. A few parallels: Germany, Italy, and Japan were responsible for many millions of dead in the world wars, but their flags fly today all over the world. Insensitive, and should these be banned? There’s Sherman’s march across the South burning homes and crops. How many more can you add?
If these parallels in history are not exactly the same, they are extremely similar to the current issue. Are they also possibly “an unacceptable example of bigotry that needs to be eradicated?” to quote from your editorial? Hopefully, sane minds within the Sullivan County school system will prevail. However, with no students or parents on Mr. Barnes’ committee, one wonders. If not, then beware D-B Indians and others, as you are next on the racially insensitive symbol list. Too bad our Southern heritage does not count in the culturally diverse society and is not worthy of a place alongside others. I am offended.
L.B. Lawson

Offensive mascot undercuts equality

Americans take public school systems very seriously. Undoubtedly, one reason is that in this country, education has generally been seen as the road to social and economic advancement. It is almost an article of faith that American children should get more education than their parents and achieve higher social and economic status. Throughout the U.S. there is unequal access to high-quality schooling, and administrations are under pressure to raise standards and increase performance, especially in underachieving schools. Institutional discrimination may be an unconscious result of the structure and functioning of the public institutions and policies themselves.
Discrimination is overt behavior. Although it may be sometimes difficult to observe, it does exist. If a school mascot is found to be offensive, that school is defeating the purpose of what our forefathers fought for: equality for all.
Thelma Watterson

Rebel flag should be left alone

In reference to the rebel flag at South High School, I am greatly concerned that one individual found the flag offensive after all these years. I was in the graduating class of 1986, and it was always an exciting time when football season rolled around. It was a chance for the proud parents and students to show their pride, by coming out to support their team. All schools have mascots, figures of people or things that represent a part of our history, culture, and backgrounds. Rebels, Pirates, Raiders, Indians, Blue Devils, just to name a few. Pirates raped and robbed people of their most precious assets, Indians scalped people, and what is a Blue Devil, or better yet, a Yankee? Whether it is a symbol or a name, they all represent something that people associate with strength and anticipation of fear. They want the schools’ team names to stand out with remembrance of past occurrences, so the opposition will feel intimidated just a little. It is a competition thing, and all schools participate in one way or another.
The rebel flag is a positive symbol of courage, tenacity, and spirit and should be left alone, as it a harmless representation of Southern pride. Remember where you are standing when you say it is offensive and try to take away something that has been here long before you moved to this area. Otherwise it would have offended you long before now. Some say the flag is a racially insensitive symbol with no place in a modern and culturally diverse society. If it is such a culturally diverse society, shouldn’t we all try to understand and respect others’ beliefs and traditions?
Lori Holt

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Don’t politicize our history

I think it is sad that two minority groups may end a school spirit tradition. The first is the white-supremacy racist bigots who commandeered the flag for their racist purposes in the 1960s. The other is an overly sensitive propagandized group who don’t know their history. The South was not and is not a monolithic racist region; the North was not and is not an enlightened non-racist society. During the 1860s, the vast majority of Americans did not see African-descended folks as equals, including Lincoln. Black troops in the Union Army were treated as inferiors. Northerners owned slaves including U.S. Grant, who didn’t free his until Reconstruction. The first abolitionist newspaper was in the South, here at Jonesboro. The war was primarily to preserve the Union, not to free slaves. The Confederate flag in context connotes the states that seceded from the Union as they understood the Constitution allowed. Don’t politicize our history.
C. Phillip Kestner

Flag’s foes should just grow up

Re. the rebel flag at South, here we go again with the political correctness thing. I can’t for the life of me figure out why every time one person cries about an issue that the whole system has to change. Last time it was prayer at a ball game, now it’s flying a flag. Does anyone other than me notice a harmless trend? Grow up, people. Learn that others have beliefs and pride in them too. The flag that is flown at South isn’t there for hate, it’s there for support of their school. The world would be a better place if everyone would leave the simple issues like this alone and deal with the big problems. I see it as a bunch of harmless kids having fun and building memories during their school years. That is all it is. If we are going to take away this school’s pride, then why not just do away with their whole sports program because you can’t have one without the other. What about the D-B Indians? If my ancestors were cowboys I might find that name offensive. So should they rename every offensive team worldwide?
Jeff Roberts

Friday, May 21, 2010


Flag is a symbol of heritage and pride

Re. the complaint about Sullivan South’s mascot, the Confederate Battle Flag is not a hate flag; it’s a Southern flag. It is a symbol of Southern pride and heritage. The complainer in this incident would do well to read a history book. Some claim the flag as a symbol of racism or slavery, but they do not consider the 96,000 Southern black men who volunteered for service in the Confederate Army, or the 23,000 Jewish Confederates, or the thousands of Catholics, Irish, Native Americans, and Hispanics who served in the Southern army. After the war, approximately 200 former black Confederate soldiers drew pensions here in Tennessee. Many more applied, but as records were lost, altered, or destroyed, oftentimes by the Union military itself, they could not prove their service.
Kingsport has a particularly interesting history during the war, as it was strongly pro-Southern in the midst of the more pro-Union sentiment of Upper East Tennessee, so much so that the Kingsport area was referred to as the “Little Confederacy.” Sullivan South and its students and alumni have been well satisfied and proud of their flag, mascot, and school for many years, and they should be. These individuals and organizations who demand removal of symbols of Southern pride and heritage commit wanton and hateful acts against dead people who are unable to defend themselves and against us, their descendents. Our citizens and officials who bow to political correctness are ignorant at best and cowards at worst.
Joe Adkins

Someone is offended. So what!

Sullivan South High School has the right to use the rebel flag as their symbol. It is a way to show their Southern pride and school pride. Jack Barnes says, “We’ve had a complaint.” So what! Do you think that everyone who is offended by something should immediately get their way? I am offended by the fact that prayer was taken out of our schools, millions of babies are murdered every year by an abortion, liberals trying to take God out of government, not having assembly services in schools where a preacher can tell the boys and girls about Christ. They took God out of schools and replaced Him with the resource officers, they teach children sex education and hand out condoms. The schools in this country are out of control, and that is the price you pay for taking God out of schools. Put God back in the schools, and you will see a big change for the better.
James Hartley
Church Hill

No Native Americans as mascots

Re. removing the Confederate flag as Sullivan South’s flag. If the flag is removed or not allowed to be displayed on the school property, I think it only fair that Dobyns-Bennett be forced to immediately cease using the image of a Native American as their mascot. It is not fair to pick and choose who is the most offended. For years some have been offended by the use of Native Americans as mascots. Considering the plight of African-Americans and Native Americans, it’s safe to say that Native Americans have consistently received the short end of the stick.
Jim Hicks

Slaves were kept in North after war

In response to questions about the Confederate Battle Flag, the Stars and Bars, which is a symbol of Southern pride, not one of hate, never once flew over a slave ship, while the same cannot be said for the Union flag. Slavery was not only an institution in the South, because there were over a quarter of a million slaves held in the North’s 19 states where slavery was still legal until Dec. 6, 1865, well after the war had ended, although Lincoln’s proclamation made Jan. 1, 1863 freed the slaves in the South, it left those in the North still in bondage.
If the North was so interested with ending slavery, why did they not free their slaves at the beginning of the war, in lieu of not doing so until well after it was over? Ninety-nine percent of the soldiers that fought under the Stars and Bars never owned any slaves, but fought for states’ rights, against Northern aggression, and the North never raised the issue of slavery until the war was well under way, and they used it to establish some justification for their aggression. It is sad when a few people believe they have the power to change history, and we just give in to them, in lieu of telling them to just grow up and get over it.
Clayton Upchurch

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Times-News Wants Readers' Input on Rebel Flags at South High



In schools here and elsewhere, mascots are beloved symbols that are used to identify and rally support for various sports teams.
But what if the choice of a sports mascot is more divisive than unifying? Should it be changed?
That, in essence, is the question outgoing Sullivan County Director of Schools Jack Barnes says a special committee at Sullivan South High School will be examining over the summer.
Sullivan South’s nickname of longstanding is the Rebels, and its mascot is known as Col. Reb, a caricature of a gray-uniformed colonel with a mustache and goatee in the Confederate Army. Although the school has never officially adopted the rebel flag’s use, fans commonly wave them at home football games and display them on vehicles outside the school on game days. Barnes says the school system has received a complaint from at least one individual who finds display of the flag as part of a school-sponsored activity offensive.
That’s why, Barnes says, that a committee consisting of South faculty, South administrators, a Board of Education member as well as a Central Office representative has been tasked to address the issue.
“Our whole point is to try to have an environment people don’t consider hostile or harassing,” Barnes explains, adding that applies to South students, the community, and students and community members who visit the school for football and other events.
One possible option, Barnes says, would be to substitute the school’s official flag for the rebel flag at football games.
No matter what the Sullivan South committee eventually decides, it’s a sure bet the choice will be an emotional and controversial one.
On one side are students and other longtime fans who embrace the rebel flag as a positive symbol of courage, tenacity and spirit. On the other side are those who regard the rebel flag as a painful reminder of slavery, or at least as a racially insensitive symbol that has no place in a modern and culturally diverse society.
In the interests of beginning a public discussion, we’d like to know what readers have to say about this controversial subject.
Is display of the rebel flag at South High School a harmless, even positive example of school spirit or an unacceptable example of bigotry that needs to be eradicated?
We believe this issue, like all public issues, is best served by a rigorous, respectful dialogue where everyone’s views and concerns are given a chance to compete in the marketplace of ideas.
We’re eager to hear from you.
Send us your letter (less than 300 words) to the editor to 701 Lynn Garden Dr., Kingsport, TN. 37660 or contact Managing Editor Ted Como at Please be sure to include your address and phone number. We call to verify all letters to the editor.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Even if you do not have a college-aged child at home, please share this with someone who does, and to anyone and everyone that comes to mind.

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No one is going to knock on our doors and ask if we can use a scholarship. Take the initiative to get your children involved. Money shouldn't be returned to donating companies because we fail to apply for it.

Please pass this information on to family members, nieces, nephews, friends with children etc. We must get the word out that money is available.

If you are a college student or getting ready to become one, you probably already know how useful additional money can be. (If clicking on the link doesn't work, then copy and paste the http in your browser). DO IT NOW!

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