County leaders stand by flag ban
by Jason Collins
Oct 06, 2013 | 240 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE – County leaders issuing a ban on the display of the Confederate flag by those renting the Expo Center property has divided the county into two groups.

And those who made the decision are hearing from both sides.

County Judge David Silva said that, since that court meeting Sept. 23, he has received numerous calls.

He has even received calls from people saying that they find other flags offensive, including one who found the Catholic and the Mexican flag offensive.

“He was offended by the Catholic flag because they had so many people killed,” Silva said.

This ban, now included in the contract presented to those renting the Expo Center, states, “Bee County commissioners and/or Expo Center management reserves the right to reject any offensive language or displays, including the Confederate flag, or other offensive flags, banners, posters, signs, etc., that it feels are inappropriate or offensive and will not (be) permitted to be displayed at any part of the Expo grounds during any and all event.”

As a history teacher, Silva said he understands the significance of the Confederate flag.

It should be noted that there are actually two Confederate flags.

There is the national flag and the battle flag. The battle flag—the one most often displayed—contains the crossed blue bars with white stars.

The second flag resembles the current Texas state flag but with two red stripes, one white stripe and a blue field in the left containing seven stars in a circle.

While the two are often either confused or simply referred to as the Confederate flag, it was the battle flag that the court banned, Silva said.

Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez, who made the request during that meeting for the ban, said, “The flying of the Confederate battle flag or similar flags, including the Texas Confederate flag, has no place in our society.

“The flag certainly has no place in Bee County.”

While the Confederate flag is often associated with racism because of its use by hate groups, the American Civil War was about more than that.

The War Between the States is more complex than just whether slavery was allowable.

Silva adds that he always reminds his students that not everybody in the South believed in slavery, and not everybody in the North was opposed to it.

“There we good godly people in the North,” he said. “There were good, godly people in the South.”

For many, the war wasn’t about slavery but more about protecting the rights of states.

Today, though, the flag represents something different to people.

“It is a hot button issue,” Silva said.

Native Americans could say that the U.S. flag is offensive because of what they endured.

“Every flag comes with something,” he said.

A flag that symbolizes heritage to some has negative connotations to others.

“Where are we going to draw the line?”

Salazar said that calls to him have been both pro and against their decision.

“You have different points of view,” he said. “Now, we have offended those people that don’t see it that way.”

Salazar adds that he respects the views of both sides. “If that is the way they feel, I respect that.”

He agreed that the flag does hold historical significance but that its connection to hate groups has placed a stigma upon it that cannot be ignored.

“You can see why people take offense to that,” Salazar said.

He cited one occurrence where a student wore a shirt with the Confederate flag emblazoned on the front.

The student, he said, was made to turn the shirt inside out, and a court upheld the school’s right to not allow the symbol to be displayed on campus.

“Freedom of speech is not 100 percent,” he said. “Yes, you have freedom of speech but not to incite a fight or disruption.”

His viewpoints come from his upbringing and stories told him by his elders.

“You have to recognize that the Hispanic and black culture have experienced racism,” he said.

He remembers his father telling him stories of his youth and the signs displayed forbidding his entry into businesses.

“We are more sensitive to that because we lived it,” Salazar said. “We felt it.

“It is embedded in our hearts already.

“For an Anglo to say there is no racism or discrimination, they can’t say that. They didn’t live it.”

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