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Submitted to the Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder Weekly, Denver
Post, Rocky Mountain News, and Westword.
Published in the
Letter to the Editor
28 September 2004
Re: Columbus Day and
Confederate Flag issue
The information this
year on the Columbus Day Convoy of Conquest (bikers, limos and
semi-trucks do not constitute a parade) seems to be much of the
typical rhetoric of years past.
The news media continue to champion the 1st
Amendment as a constitutional piece that stands head and shoulders
above the rest and continue to promote divisiveness in Denver.
But is this a true interpretation of the US Constitution?
Arenít there other Constitutional Amendments that are
applicable to this discussion?
This issue is very
similar to Confederate Flag controversy in South Carolina.
Both symbols represent a sense of pride for one group and
promote hatred, violence and slavery to another.
From 1963 on, South Carolina flew the confederate flag over
their state house to honor the civil war veterans.
This action went unchallenged until the NAACP mounted
resistance to this practice.
To them and millions of other people of conscience, this
symbol flying over the state legislature was a glaring reminder of
racism at the hands of the government and by some of the people of
the state.It was a
daily showing of state sponsored hate speech.
If an individual has a confederate flag bumper sticker,
t-shirt or flag in their own yard, that is their own prerogative,
but when the state promotes the same symbol, it is an entirely
different issue.It is
wrong to push a symbol that alienates a significant part of the
population, especially over such a contentious issue as this.
In the same light, it is also wrong for the state of
Colorado and of the US Government to celebrate a holiday that is
also viewed as hate speech by a segment of the population.
To celebrate Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon) is a
slap in the face of every American Indian and person of conscience
who knows the truth about the genocide and slave trading that is
part of his legacy on this continent.
If an individual wants to celebrate this day, take the day
off of work, or dress up like a 15th Century mariner
that is their own prerogative, but when the state and federal
government give their employees the day off to celebrate, that is
an entirely different matter.
It is the duty of the government to uphold not only the 1st
Amendment rights, but also the rights afforded to all of us under
the 14th Amendment.
This Amendment assures us that all Americans will have
equal protection under the law. It is only right that our governments repeal this holiday
for something that could be celebrated by all people.
It is interesting to
note that the removal of the confederate flag from the South
Carolina state house was not accomplished by means of legal
challenges regarding Constitutional Amendments.
It was accomplished by an economic boycott of South
Carolina headed by the NAACP.
It is unfortunate that we live in a land where the basic
freedoms that are yelled out at political conventions and repeated
over and over again in government and corporate propaganda, are
consistently withheld from certain segments of our population.
In protecting free speech over equal rights, the government
has shown it values hate speech more than the rights of equality
and social justice.
The majority of Americans cannot decide how a minority
population feels about a particular symbol or holiday.
If it is offensive and promotes feelings of racism,
violence and oppression, as both of these symbols do, then they
need to be removed from the areas that are state sponsored.
Again, if individuals want to celebrate the confederate
flag, Christopher Columbus, Adolf Hitler, or Pol Pot, then that is
their own business.But
when the government, whether state or federal, promotes such
symbols or people, then they need to be held accountable for their
ignorance and racist behavior.
Mark Freeland, Aurora CO
©2004 Transform Columbus Day Alliance