To Mayor Hayward
City of Pensacola
cc: The Pensacola City Council --
Dear Mayor Hayward,
With your removal of the First National Flag of the Confederacy from the Five Flags displays, you have shown yourself to be an emotional reactionary, not a deliberative leader.
Without giving the situation time to stabilize, or finding out what your constituents wanted, you followed the lead of those across the country making callous political use of a tragedy to lie about history in the interest of protecting and promoting destructive contemporary policies. In so doing, you have aided the hysterical sweep across the South to wipe out anything Confederacy related, from flags to retail items to place names to monuments to smartphone apps. There are even calls to dig up graves and remove the remains of Confederate soldiers and officers. Do you approve of that? Your actions helped to bring it about.
And whether you intended to or not, you have painted many of your good, decent constituents who respect their history and heritage with a Dylann-Roof-colored brush. Shame. You ought to know your people better than that, and respect them enough to not mischaracterize them with your assumptions.
Since your precipitous action, tens of thousands of people across the Southern states have rallied in support of Confederate heritage almost daily, to show they will not let their brave Confederate ancestors be lied about, dishonored or forgotten. The rallies and parades continue today.
Significantly, a CNN poll has verified what heritage defenders have known for decades. A huge majority of Americans -- 57 percent -- do not see the Confederate flag as a racist emblem, but a symbol of Southern regional pride -- the same pride Pensacolians showed in their city's history and heritage, until their government attempted to remove it and foist off on them some plastic, artificial, soulless "world class upside city" substitute. It wouldn't surprise me if that 57% figure was higher in Pensacola.
This is nearly identical to a 2000 Gallup poll which found that 59% of Americans say the flag is more a symbol of Southern pride, and reflects similar percentages in polls by Scripps-Howard in Texas and The University of North Carolina's Southern Focus poll. People's regard for their history has not changed despite an ongoing campaign of denigration of the flag by the NAACP and fellow travelers, and the high-handed efforts of their local and state governments.
My major concern at this time is protection of the Confederate Memorial in Lee Square. I want the city's assurance that it will not cave to emotional reactionary demands to destroy or remove the monument. Leave it exactly where it is, and protect it from vandalism and attempts at destruction.
However, I maintain an intense interest in the flag situation. I want to see it revisited. The city's "solution" of putting a state flag in a display of national flags is, frankly, bizarre, reeks of political appeasement and mangles the very significance and purpose of the Five Flags displays. I would like to see the Five Flags restored to what they should be, including the First National Flag of the Confederacy, the Stars and Bars.