One of the staples of any county fair found across the United States are vendors. Random items can be found for sale that range from cheaply made toys to clothing. Vendors received the news that this year’s Vernon County Fair — located in Wisconsin — banned the sale of Confederate flags.
According to John McClelland Jr., the 11-member board voted to prohibit sale of items containing the Confederate flag insignia after residents complained they would feel unsafe if vendors were allowed to move forward with sales.
McClelland said, “As a board, we decided it wasn’t a necessary item. It’s a piece of our history, but someone got their feelings hurt. So we decided not to sell it.” He also acknowledged that by appeasing a couple of people, he knew many more would be angered by the decision.
Last year, a resident named Mark Kastel got into a confrontation with a vendor after approaching him about the flag. Kastel went on to file a police report against the vendor and went on a mission to have the flag banned from being sold at the fair. He also asserted that several residents wouldn’t feel safe with Confederate flags being sold at the event.
“I just don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who claim that it’s some important part of their heritage. I’m asking the board to be conciliatory to everybody in the community. Even if there is one person negatively affected by this, that’s too many,” Kastel told a local news outlet.
He was also offended on behalf of family members he claims were part of the civil rights movement. The controversy surrounding the Confederate flag has been a source of contention across the United States lately. Many citizens feel that the flag represents racism and slavery, while others contend that the flag is a simple matter of heritage.
While I agree with the removal of the Confederate flag from state and federal buildings, I am not in agreement with making that decision for private citizens. I’ve been to several public events from Georgia to New York state where vendors were present. Of course, the Confederate flag was more abundant in the South.
I also noticed its presence at a county fair in northern New York. I thought it was a little weird to be selling items with the Confederate flag insignia in the Northern states, but I feel I’ve seen it all.
I wasn’t super-offended, nor did I feel unsafe.
Things are getting a little out of hand with the hurt feelings and safe spaces. I feel that if I’m faced with a vendor selling Confederate items, I just wouldn’t purchase anything. There are far greater dangers in the United States than a Confederate flag. I’ve actually been welcomed into a home in Georgia where a full-blown Confederate flag was hanging and never once thought my life was in danger. I was treated with respect. Perhaps that encounter has broadened my horizons and taught me to judge someone on the content of their character.
Angelina Newsom is a U.S. Army veteran and an OpsLens contributor. She served 10 years in the military, including a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She studies criminal justice and is still active within the military community. This OpsLens article is used by permission.
(photo credit, homepage image: Jason Lander, Flickr; photo credit, article image: Donald Lee Pardue, Flickr)