Letter to the editor: On waving Confederate flags on campus

Park visitors carry the battle flag of the Confederate Northern Virginia army through the Portland State Park Blocks. The flag has been removed from many Southern institutions in the wake of the racially motivated June 17 murder of nine churchgoers in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charlestone, SC. Courtesy of Anna Wolfston

I am a PSU student and as I was walking to class on July 6, I saw three older people walking through campus and down the Portland Park Blocks waving Confederate flags.

I understand the importance of freedom of expression, but as a PSU student and Portland resident, I felt threatened, uncomfortable and unwanted.

In light of the recent Charleston massacre and the history of racism, slavery and oppression in the United States, the Confederate flag is viewed, even in South Carolina where the massacre took place, as a symbol of hate, repression and bigotry.

Should this symbol be waved in any city or on any campus that seeks to be welcoming and diverse? I believe symbolism should be limited when it becomes threatening.

Here is a picture I took of the three people as they passed over Southwest Clay Street, away from campus and into the Park Blocks.

Anna Wolfston


  1. I, for one, support the freedom to fly a battle flag as I see fit. That’s why we live in the USA, because we have the freedom to do so, at least for the time being. This flag means many different things to many people. I see no hate in the flag whatsoever… But, because we live in a time where emotions trump logic, we get too many people that get their “feeling hurt” and then there goes more of our liberties and freedoms. What I don’t understand is that in a city that is suppose to be progressive, tolerant and loving, there is actually more intolerance and hate coming from the same people who preach tolerance and love. Hypocrite much? Hang out with these freedom loving people that carry this flag and you’ll see the intolerant, hateful people that make up much of this loving/caring city, especially PSU.

  2. I just wanted to point out what everybody seems to be missing. The Dixie (not confederate) flag is a symbol, and as a symbol, it has a changable and collectively negotiated meaning. I know that the flag had racist origins, but by the time I grew up in the South, it’s meaning had shifted (at least among my social circles) to signify pride in the region and opposition to the misconceptions of people from outside of the South. Yes, to some people, that flag signifies hatred and violence toward blacks, but don’t believe that that is the sole, uncontested meaning just because national news chains claim it is so.

  3. Well said Nathaniel. He who has the most money and power also controls the media. In this case, those who control the media (and large corporations) have chosen to use their clout to buy the minds of the American public. In other words, the one-percenters have purchased “public opinion” on this matter. The “offense” that people feel here is not a natural reaction, but a manufactured one, created by the one-percenters.

    Many more atrocities have been committed under the stars and stripes (including several genocides), yet it’s considered perfectly okay to fly that flag.

    To me, the Battle Flag stands for freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom from powerful interest groups.

  4. You’re allowed to fly what flag you like, but you lack some sort of human decency if you think your “heritage” of oppression and hatred is more important than how millions of people feel when they see it.
    I’ve seen my fear in my friends’ eyes when their neighbor waved the flag. I’ve seen the flag and been disturbed because, at the end of the day, it represents hatred, oppression, bigotry, and fear-mongering.
    I mean, do what you like, but if you’re going to go around waving a symbol many people associate with hatred, don’t get mad at them for disliking you.

  5. Let’s call this for what it is: a blatant in your face middle finger because Rush Limbaugh told them liberals are taking their “God” given rights away by forcing the removal of the confederate flag in SC. Kick them out of Park Blocks for disturbing the peace.

  6. The confederate battle flag is nothing but a sad emblem of wrong-headed people who killed their fellow country-men, and foolishly gave their lives for the cause of injustice. They fought for the right to own people and enslave them. Anyone who waves the confederate battle flag today and pretends that it isn’t anything other than a disgusting racist symbol is lying to everyone, themselves especially.

    People walking through the Park blocks waving this flag are no better that the hate-filled followers of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    The confederate battle flag is the closest thing the U.S. has to a swastika.

  7. Ok, let’s definitely call it what it is, a bunch of liberal pansies that worry more about their feelings than the direction that this country is going. Just keep your face down and distracted by your idevice while the USA goes down the sewer. Nice work people!

  8. I will always see the flag as a symbol of treason against the state, but that doesn’t mean I support blocking or preventing the flag from being waved or displayed. The flag shouldn’t make anyone feel threatened, and if it did, you’d give American Muslims and those from Syrian migrants purview that American flags and soldiers are a threat to bomb them. They’re not going to hurt you, if they were you wouldn’t see them coming nine times out of ten. IF you dislike it, express yourself to the ones holding the flag. That is how this country works.


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