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Submitted to the Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder Weekly, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and  Westword.

Published in the Boulder Weekly 9/30/04

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