The Confederate Flag on South Carolina State House grounds is likely on its way down, pending debate and vote by the state’s legislators. However, it’s not the only such flag on public property, and others are also being addressed in the wake of a mass murder inspired by racism and hate. There are also a few flags and memorials that are not on government property but are placed in proximity to highways, and may give the appearance of government endorsement.
In Alabama, the Confederate Flag waving on state Capitol grounds has already been removed, ordered down by Governor Robert Bentley even as debate raged in South Carolina — where the murders actually occurred. AL describes two workers removing the flag without fanfare, and refusing to answer any questions.
Meanwhile, private companies have made decisions to remove the flag from their product lines. Wal-Mart will no longer carry Confederate Flag items, nor will eBay, Etsy, or Amazon. It’s important to recognize that none of these represents a ‘ban’ because these are all voluntary removals.
However, other flags that many people would like removed are on private property, belonging to individuals or groups, rather than government. However, positioning of these may affect the local culture and population, because of their prominence.
According to the Tampa Tribune, one of these locations is in Florida, where what is said to be the world’s largest Confederate Battle Flag.
It’s in Confederate Memorial Park, in Hillsborough County, with memorials at its base to those who fought for the Confederate cause. However, the flag is the issue — it is so massively large that it can be seen from at least two nearby highways, and the Mayor of Tampa would like to see it gone. The flag is 30 feet by 60 feet, on a 139-foot pole — and every ordinance was followed in its placement. All proper permits were filed, and the flag is within bounds of legality. Locals feel that the flag reflects badly on the area, but the flag is on private property, and isn’t likely to come down.
Similarly, there is a Confederate Memorial in Tennessee that is also getting attention due to its visibility to main roads. According to The Tennesseean, it consists of a statue of Confederate Army General Nathan Bedford Forrest, surrounded by Confederate Flags. This momument is especially problematic, as Forrest wasn’t just a Confederate General, but, according to Biography, the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Accordingly, the property has been called a ‘KKK Shrine’ by many.
Bill Dorris, the owner of the property, says that he’s under attack and that proposed moves by the local government would prevent 70,000 people per year from learning about Civil War history — but in truth, the only move that has been proposed is planting a treeline on government property, which would decrease the view of Dorris’ property from the road. Furthermore, he believes that planting a row of trees between his Confederate Flag festooned shrine and the road would actually prevent those thousands of tourists from coming to Nashville each year, in turn (according to his astounding claim) harming black citizens:
[Tourists who come to the shrine] do support the restaurant industry, the lodging industry — and how many blacks work in those industries, work [as] tour guides and what have you?
Of course, even if the treeline really does put an end to tourists visiting his memorial to an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and really does keep 70k tourists from trekking to Nashville each year (unlikely!), it won’t make a dent in the more than 6 million tourists World Guides says the area sees each year.
Without actively banning the Confederate Flag, might creative means such as this treeline be the way to minimize the impact of such memorials on the community?