As this is being written, it’s too early — yet — to see exactly how the story in the Star Tribune this morning will play out. Three kids were suspended from Bloomington Kennedy High School for “carrying and waving” the flags in the parking lot as parents and students arrived at the school, according to school district spokesman Rick Kaufman.
Because the school district doesn’t allow anyone to participate in graduation exercises who is under suspension, the boys don’t get to participate.
Two of the boys complied with the request to ditch the flag. But it probably doesn’t help that the photo of the three accompanying the story makes it look like three boys are ready for a philosophical fight. Actually, it doesn’t look like philosophy enters into the scene at all.
You can see what’s coming, right?
There are a couple of ways to this will play (and I’m intentionally not looking at the nearly 600 comments attached to the story):
Pick your poison.
Whether we’re talking nooses, swastiskas, or flags, perhaps the debate will come down to the symbols. Or it will degenerate into another battle in the political war that never ends.
As many teachers will tell you, the classroom is becoming a battle of wills. In Dilworth, three kids got suspended last month for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Classmates there, as in Bloomington, staged a protest over the suspensions.
On Staten Island last fall, a 12 year old wore a T-shirt to school with the Confederate flag. The school didn’t seem to have a problem with it, but some of his classmates did, evoking the sort of response he (a) may have wanted to evoke and (b) the school in Bloomington might well have been trying to prevent.
It’s not just Minnesota. In Tampa this week, controversy over a confederate flag centers on a plan to raise a giant confederate flag over one of the region’s biggest intersections.
The story mirrors a point one of the kids in Bloomington tried to make: the flag isn’t a symbol of a racist culture, but a celebration of the Dukes of Hazzard.
In popular culture, the Confederate flag has been celebrated — as a hood ornamentation on the General Lee in the television show “The Dukes of Hazzard” for example — but also used to depict racism and racist characters.
It is also listed in the Anti-Defamation League’s database of hate symbols. “Although the flag is seen by some Southerners simply as a symbol of Southern pride, it is often used by racists to represent white domination of African-Americans,” according to the Web site.