Confederate flags have no place in South Dakota
South Dakota has become the focal point of a racial controversy that could become newsworthy on the national scene.
The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Hot Springs removed two Confederate flags last week after receiving complaints that the flags smacked of racism. Now this week, the flags have been restored to their previous place in a medical center rotunda display of historic flags, after the release of the patients who complained.
The veterans who filed the complaint are black.
The Confederate flag — or traditional rebel battle flags — are offensive to many people who feel the flags represent a history of slavery and servitude. Others find the flags offensive because they represent the rebellious cause that eventually claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans during the Civil War.
After last week’s complaint, officials at the VA center removed the flags, saying ‘‘we realize . . . that there are people who have strong opinions on both sides of the issue.’’
When the patients were released from the hospital, the flags apparently were re-hung.
If the reports about this incident are true, we are ashamed for the VA Center. What a disingenuous act. The flags should simply be removed, forever.
We consider Confederate flags offensive. We have heard others dismiss them as just harmless symbols of a bygone era, but the only era we can associate these flags with is one of bondage, slavery and white supremacy. Even if the flags aren’t racist — which they are — they represent a rebellious, enemy nation that started a costly and bloody war with the United States.
It’s time for America to grow up. And that time has especially come for a government-run medical center in Hot Springs, S.D., that caters to men and women who fought to preserve the same freedoms that were gained with the U.S. victory in 1865.
— Mitchell Daily Republic
Lawmakers should not ask state to pay for memberships in conservative group
Heard any really bad ideas lately from the South Dakota Legislature? We have.
The Legislature’s Executive Board, dominated by Republicans, decided this week that the state treasury should pay the $100 memberships for all 105 South Dakota legislators in an organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council, and also foot the bill for unlimited out-of-state trips to ALEC events by state lawmakers who serve on ALEC committees.
That’s an issue because ALEC — described on its own website as ‘‘a nonpartisan membership association for conservative state lawmakers’’ — is not nonpartisan in the sense that an organization such as the National Conference of State Legislatures is.
There is widespread criticism of ALEC from watchdog groups and Democratic-leaning groups who say the organization gets much of its funding from corporations that stand to benefit from the model legislation that ALEC presents to state lawmakers.
It may be that ALEC truly tries to be nonpartisan, but part of what people are objecting to is that this group might allow the unseen hand of the corporations to influence what goes on in our states.
Only imagine how incensed Republicans would be if we had a Democratic-dominated Legislature and those lawmakers decided to pay memberships to a left-leaning group and travel to conferences where lawmakers could get research help and discuss model legislation on, say, labor and the environment and business regulation. What if that group called itself ‘‘a nonpartisan membership association for liberal state lawmakers,’’ would that raise concerns? Would we pay for our lawmakers’ memberships in that organization and fund committee members’ travel to its events?
Well, we have exactly that situation on the other side of the aisle.
If corporations want to whisper sweet nothings in the ears of South Dakota legislators, let them come to Pierre and follow the process our Legislature has set in place for lobbying. Or at the very least, let’s conserve some state funds and let the so-called conservative lawmakers pay their own membership bills. Don’t ask the state to pay for it, because that makes a mockery of conservative ideology.
South Dakotans should not foot the bill so that our lawmakers can go off and flirt with ALEC.
— Pierre Capital Journal