2016 Memorial Display Rebuts Madison Parks’ 1st Amendment Argument
June 1, 2016 § Leave a comment
On Memorial Day, May 30, 2016, the Confederate Rest section of Madison Parks’ Forest Hill Cemetery was awash in symbols of the Confederacy.
In addition to the first Confederate national flag on the Madison Parks’ flagpole, a Confederate national flag was on every one of the 140 graves.
Ironically two days earlier on May 28 each grave was decorated with an artificial red corn poppy, a traditional war grave decoration.
The red corn poppy is appropriate and is in accord with international practices as at German World Wars I and II military cemeteries in France where the current German national flag is flown but the display of WWI or II era German national, battle, or unit flags are prohibited. Floral and religious decorations of graves are permitted.
Those who removed the flowers at Forest Hill and replaced them with symbols of the Confederacy seem to be making a statement that this is not about decorating graves or respectful honoring of the dead but rather this is about supporting the Confederacy.
Those who have placed a Confederate flag on every grave have refuted the Madison Parks position that permitting the Confederate flag on the Madison Parks flagpole is about First Amendment rights
One hundred and forty flags seems more than enough expression of their First Amendment protected free speech. They do not need a 141st flag on the Madison Parks’ flagpole.
People who wish to display symbols of the violent treasonous attempt to set up a slave state based on an ideology of racial supremacy have no shortage of opportunities to do so including in Madison Parks.
The historical consensus is that the Confederacy was violent treasonous attempt to establish a slave state based on an ideology of racial supremacy. Post-Civil War displays of Confederate symbols were in opposition of civil rights for African-Americans and desegregation. They were intended as public statements of racial hatred.
Displays of Confederate symbols espouse racism, not the so-called preservation of “heritage and history” argument which are thinly veiled canards.
For 150 years we as a nation have engaged in collective denial of the racial aspects of the Civil War and subsequent events. One hundred and fifty years of displays of Confederate symbols is part of that denial. Among the reasons our racial problems remain so serious is because of that denial. Relegating Confederate symbols to their display in their appropriate context (for example the captured Confederate flags displayed at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum on the Capitol Square) is a essential step in ending that denialand dismantling the infrastructure of racism.
Madison Parks does not need to give them any more than the Supreme Court requires and the Supreme Court does not require public cemeteries allow the flying of any Confederate flags on their flagpoles. (Griffin v. Department of Veterans Affairs 274 F. 3d 818 – Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, 2001 Appeals court ruling that supported the policy of the Federal agencies to prohibit Confederate flags in national cemeteries. The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal thereby allowing the appeals court ruling to stand.)
The time has come for Madison Parks to either prohibit the display of any flag other than the U.S. flag on the flagpole in the Confederate rest section of the Forest Hill Cemetery or to remove that flagpole.