My parents live across the street from the house where Carl Berenholtz is flying the Confederate flag (Confederate Battle Flag Comes Under Fire,” July 3). I was shocked to find out that this flag was flying in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Pikesville. My response when I see the flag, as a Jew, as a queer woman, as a white person dedicated to anti-racist education and action in Baltimore, is anger, and I am compelled to speak out.
People will argue that Berenholtz has the right to freedom of speech, but would we say the same thing and not be up in arms if he was flying a Nazi flag? Would we give him space to voice the redeeming points of the history of the swastika, which is a sacred symbol in Hinduism and many other religions and cultures?
We know that Confederate heritage was linked to slavery and hatred. We know that today it is flown by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups, who hate Jews almost as much as they hate African-Americans. In fact, the flag that’s been contested and finally taken down in South Carolina was hung originally when Southerners in Congress defeated a bill that would have made lynching a federal crime. It’s been flown and is being flown now as a defiant act against civil rights and as a way to terrorize black people. It should be in a museum.
Putting the flag out now, in Pikesville, just weeks after nine people were killed by a man flying that same flag in an act of terrorism at a black church in South Carolina is just disgusting. While the JT article rightly points out that more than 10,000 Jews fought for the Confederacy, we should no more celebrate their legacy than that of the Judenrat, because both were complicit in serving a violent, racist society in a wrongheaded attempt to insulate themselves from it. If South Carolina State Sen. Paul Thurmond, son of the infamous segregationist U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, can see the shanda in honoring the flag of slavery, so too should we.
To Mr. Berenholtz: Take it down. And to the rest of us: Do not remain silent in the face of a hateful symbol in our community.