Friday, September 2, 2011

Lexington, Virginia Turns PC

Virginia city limits Confederate flag-flying
Steve Szkotak, Associated Press / Sep 2, 2011

Officials in the rural Virginia city where Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall’’ Jackson are buried voted late Thursday to prohibit the flying of the Confederate flag on city-owned poles.

After a lively 2 ½-hour public hearing, the Lexington City Council voted 4-1 to allow only U.S., Virginia and city flags to be flown. Personal displays of the Confederate flag are not affected. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose members showed up in force after leading a rally that turned a downtown park into a sea of Confederate flags, vowed to challenge the ordinance in court.

Some speakers during the meeting said the ordinance was an affront to the men who fought in the Civil War in defense of the South. One speaker stayed silent during his allotted three minutes, in memory of the Civil War dead.

But many speakers complained that the flag was an offensive, divisive symbol of the South’s history of slavery and shouldn’t be endorsed by the city of 7,000 people.

“The Confederate flag is not something we want to see flying from our public property,’’ said city resident Marquita Dunn, who is black. “The flag is offensive to us.’’

Most residents who spoke, both blacks and whites, opposed the ordinance. But H.K. Edgerton, the former president of the NAACP chapter in Asheville, N.C., said he supported flying the Confederate flag because he wanted to honor black Confederate soldiers. Edgerton, who is black, wore a T-shirt emblazoned with images of those black soldiers.

“What you’re going to do in banning the Southern cross is wrong. May God bless Dixie,’’ he said, amid some gasps from the audience.

Before the rally, ordinance opponents rallied in the city park, then marched to the hearing under a parade of Confederate flags.