Down at the grassroots level of American society, the harsh rhetoric that President Donald Trump and his allies spew continues to spark tangible consequences. This past Friday at Kickapoo High School, which is near Springfield, Missouri, a handful of students drove around the packed parking lot displaying at least one prominent Confederate flag. Besides the innately antagonistic nature of the flags thanks to representing a heritage of slavery, the incident unfolded on the “Day of Silence,” when students across the country sought to raise attention of the silencing LGBTQ individuals face in and out of schools. There had been previous incidents of harassment of those in support of the display of solidarity, making the intent of the Confederate flag display even more clear.
On April 5 and April 10, posters marking the day were torn from the walls of the school. In the first incident, after a student threw one of the ruined items into a crowd, a number of fellow students could be heard laughing and cheering. The principal reacted harshly to the first incident, asserting over the intercom that such behavior would not be tolerated, period. No crowd reactions were reported after the second incident. The school district has “confirmed the students caught ripping down posters were disciplined for bullying.”
No such discipline emerged following the Friday incident at the school featuring an in-your-face display of the Confederate flag alongside a handful of traditional American flags. The school district’s chief communications officer Stephen Hall told local media that they “feel like it’s been handled and dealt with.” School officials did respond in the parking lot as it was unfolding, but with the stated intention of addressing the safety hazard the driving was presenting rather than confronting the bigoted antagonism on display. The students with the flags “voluntarily removed” them and were not late to class, Hall noted — although it’s not entirely clear how that last point is relevant.
The Confederate flag is a symbol of hate, plain and simple. The Confederate States of America stood for the enslavement of blacks, which in the modern political environment can easily be translated into hatred for minorities — like LGBTQ students — in general.
There’s a “KHS Straight Pride” account on Instagram that proudly asserts “facts don’t care about your feelings” in its bio, taking a page from popular right wing loudmouth Ben Shapiro — and well, if that’s the case, then they should acknowledge the fact that they’re touting a display of a short-lived racist jurisdiction that was solidly defeated at the end of the Civil War. If the students want to mark themselves as standing for racism, defeat, and destruction — great job, they’re right on the money.
Trump has pushed both facets to the issue that unfolded this past week in Missouri. He has ardently defended monuments to the Confederacy as a supposed important symbol of American history, and he has sought to enshrine LGBTQ people as “different” including via his ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Since the Missouri incident didn’t unfold in a vacuum, his behavior is tangibly helping make life more difficult for Americans across the country.
Featured Image via screenshot