I would like to respond to the recent letter by Clive Ewing opposing removal of the Talbot Boys monument from the grounds of the Talbot county courthouse. The letter cites the following language from the hate symbol database published by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL): “one should not automatically assume that display of the [Confederate] flag is racist or white supremacist in nature. The symbol should only be judged in context.”
It is somewhat ironic that the letter itself is guilty of citing the ADL’s commentary out of context. Prior to the quoted language, the ADL hate symbol commentary states as follows:
“Organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans adopted the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage but the flag also served as a potent symbol of slavery and white supremacy, which has caused it to be very popular among white supremacists in the 20th and 21st centuries. This popularity extends to white supremacists beyond the borders of the United States.
Today, the use of the Confederate flag is often controversial. While a number of non-extremists still use the flag as a symbol of Southern heritage or pride, there is growing recognition, especially outside the South, that the symbol is offensive to many Americans. However, because the continued use of the flag by non-extremists, one should not automatically assume that the display of the flag is racist or white supremacist in nature. The symbol should only be judged in context.
The ADL has recently applauded the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the Mississippi saying: “Although displays of the Confederate Flag in the context of museums, historical reenactments or textbooks may be appropriate, this symbol of hate has absolutely no place in the Mississippi State Flag.”
I would apply the same analysis to the Talbot Boys monument. If we are to evaluate the issue in terms of “context,” it seems that the better perspective is to recognize that many people justifiably find the flag deeply offensive and, accordingly, it should have no place on the grounds of a government courthouse that should be welcoming to all people. The Confederate flag does not in any way encourage Talbot citizens, especially citizens of color, to have confidence that they will find equal justice in the courthouse. I urge the Talbot Council to remove the Talbot Boys monument from the courthouse grounds and move it to museum or other appropriate location.