Would you stand for the national anthem if you were facing a Confederate flag?
Recent protests during the national anthem by NFL players in a show of solidarity against police violence perpetrated against Americans of color have spurred much debate and controversy, but Utah police officer Daniel Argueta never expected to be part of that.
‘With all the controversy going on with the flag recently and people sitting during the anthem, we had all intended to stand, but we couldn’t. People probably looked around, probably wondering what we were doing.’
For Argueta, it wasn’t about unpacking the intricacies of systemic racism; it took a much more blatant and recognizable (for some) symbol of racism to make him and his family sit out “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
When a truck at the demolition derby in West Jordan, Utah, made the rounds with a Confederate flag raised, Argueta’s young children were upset. They became even more so when they were asked to stand and salute the long-held symbol of racism and white supremacy during the national anthem.
Argueta’s 10-year-old daughter, Jasmine, told reporters:
‘When I saw the Confederate flag, I didn’t want to stand because it meant slavery.’
The truck was owned by Stirrin’ Dirt Racing, with whom the city of West Jordan contracted to arrange the event. A spokeswoman for the city, Kim Wells, apologized to attendees.
‘From a city’s perspective, we’re very disappointed. We didn’t know that was a part of the show […] We’re very surprised and we apologize. We certainly didn’t mean to make people feel uncomfortable.’
Owner of Stirrin’ Dirt Racing, Jim Simko, blamed one of the company’s “helpers” for the incident.
‘It wasn’t politically correct, I’m sure, for some people. But there’s some people who look at that flag and say this is the land of the free […] It shouldn’t have happened, but I can’t, unfortunately, watch what everybody does at every minute.’
Simko, proving that he still doesn’t get it, also said that he felt the incident had been “blown way out of proportion.” Offficer Argueta disagrees.
‘What’s awkward is our kids understood what it meant. My son asked me, “Dad, are we really going to stand with the Confederate flag there?” And as a father, it’s a hard decision, especially in the spur of the moment, but the right thing to do was protest.’
For local news coverage of the disturbing incident, see video below:
Featured image screengrab via video