Why include flag vendor?

At this year’s Parkersburg Homecoming Festival a group was set up right in the middle of the festival rides where children and families congregated to ride and go to the petting zoo. This group was displaying and selling hateful paraphernalia that included a confederate flag with the words “the South will rise again” emblazoned on it and a flag that was a sewn together mix of the American flag and the confederate flag, as if somehow the flag of our Union is equal to the flag of the secessionist South.

All you have to do is read the articles of secession of the states that seceded from the Union to know exactly why they did so … the preservation and expansion of African slavery. Why would a community like Parkersburg, which states on its signage coming into town that it is building an inclusive community, allow the open display and sale of such items at its homecoming festivities? Why would the Parkersburg Homecoming Committee allow this?

It comes as no surprise that this same booth had Trump flags out, but that in and of itself is not an issue. The Republican and usually the Democratic parties set up at homecoming yearly. But there is no room for hate here. It has to stop. Arguments have been made that this is simply freedom of speech and that people in West Virginia fought on both sides of the American Civil War. But there are restrictions on speech. Would the Parkersburg Homecoming Committee let the KKK set up shop at homecoming? If not, why let people who support a movement that nearly destroyed our Union set up? And West Virginia entered the Union on June 20, 1863 as a free state, not a slave state.

There’s no room in America for white nationalism, white supremacy, or neo-confederates. It’s not enough to say you’re an inclusive community on a sign, you have to back it up and tell hate to take a hike.

Eric Engle