Burying our heads to certain issues won’t make them go away.
A newspaper should facilitate conversations. We missed an opportunity to do that Oct. 7.
As a community newspaper, we wear many hats.
We want to inform the public about important news in our area. We want to recognize and celebrate the many good people and positive activity in our region.
But most importantly, when there are issues that divide us or concern us, we want to provide an opportunity to start a conversation.
Arguments don’t facilitate resolution, or change, if change is needed.
Understanding both sides of an issue, and where your neighbors are coming from, does.
We want to apologize for failing to meet one such need recently.
In the Oct. 7 edition of the Daily American Republic, we had several photos from the Old Glory Flag Run that started in the Black River Coliseum parking lot. The event was a great way for area residents to show support for our country, the military and law enforcement. Organizers asked participants to attach an American flag to their vehicles to show that support.
What we completely missed was the Confederate battle flag in the back of one of the pick-up trucks.
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Several of our readers didn’t, and shared their disappointment in our decision to use it in the newspaper.
We want to apologize not for the decision to run the photo, but for failing to realize the Confederate flag was there and failing to have a conversation about what that might mean for all of our readers.
We also missed an opportunity to have a conversation with our community about an issue that has become divisive in our country.
Most of the comments we’ve received, and there have been many, can be summed up by this one:
“This comment is in regard to the photo that you ran on the front page of Wednesday’s (Oct. 7) DAR under the heading ‘Residents Let Old Glory Fly’. I truly hope that one of the photos slipped past review prior to the paper being printed. I am referring to the photograph of the pick-up truck displaying a confederate flag. It’s sad enough that some in our community feel comfortable displaying this flag, but it’s unconscionable that our newspaper would give credence to it by publishing the photo on the front page of the newspaper! In 2020 this flag continues to symbolize white nationalism and/or supremacy, glorification of the Civil War, racism, segregation, and the list goes on and on. Surely our community is better than this, and the DAR should be the first to rise above such contempt for our society. At the very least, the newspaper should print a retraction and apology on the front page of the paper.”
We realize the Confederate battle flag and statues issue has polarized our nation the past several months and years. It’s not going to be resolved now, next week, next month or next year. It’s been going on for a long time.
We believe our American flag is a symbol of freedom for all, not just a few. Those freedoms include many things; including allowing people to do things others don’t agree with.
The Confederate battle flag represents a time when some southern states formed their own country and took up arms against the United States of America. According to an April 3, 2012 story in the New York Times, 360,222 citizens of the United States of America (northern soldiers) died from injury and disease. On the other side was the Confederate battle flag.
The meaning behind the Confederate battle flag was obvious during the Civil War and for many years following. It was meant to rally southern soldiers to fight for a way of life, which included slavery.
In the 1950s and 1960s, it was resurrected by some political figures in response to growing public support for racial equality, alongside opposition to civil rights in 1948.
In recent years, for many, the flag represents being from the south and how they are proud of their heritage, excluding slavery.
To lump all people who display the Confederate battle flag into one basket isn’t fair.
But we also hope those who do choose to fly that flag, understand the true meaning of how it started.
We’re proud of Old Glory and we prove it five days a week when she shows up on the upper left of our front page. She also hangs from a flagpole daily in front of our office.
Burying our heads to certain issues won’t make them go away. It’s part of our job to facilitate conversation about tough topics.
We should have done in connection with the Old Glory Flag Run photos.
We’re sorry we missed that opportunity.