* Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) on Facebook…
I have been trying to sort truth from fiction in the issue of entertainment decisions at our two State Fairs. I know people are polarized on the issue, but it is always important to get facts. While in Chicago today to attend a hearing I was able to secure a meeting with two high-ranking members of Gov. Pritzker’s Exec. Staff.
I also asked Rep. Tim Butler to join us as he represents the State fairgrounds in Springfield.
The meeting was multi-fold. I wanted to identify for my constituents who made the call to cancel the contract with Confederate Railroad and the official reason for why it was done. I also wanted to express my absolute disagreement with the cancelation. In addition, I wanted an explanation for the booking of Snoop Dogg in Springfield considering his album cover has a picture of what appears to be a dead President Trump on a slab covered with a flag while Snoop Dogg stands over him in a defiant manner.
I wanted the Administration to know I expected Confederate Railroad’s contract to be reinstated. I argued that if Confederate Railroad is canceled, then Snoop Dogg should be canceled too.
I was informed in no uncertain terms, that the decision to cancel CR was made by the Pritzker administration, including the two people sitting with me at the table. They affirmed that the decision was not made by DuQuoin Fair officials or by Director Sullivan.
They refused my insistence that Confederate Railroad be permitted to perform. Their reasoning was that they have a hard fast rule not to permit any use of the Confederate flag in any way. When I asked what their policy was pertaining to a sitting President being depicted in the way President Trump is depicted on Snoop Dogg’s album cover, they said, they had no such policy.
In fact, I was told by one of the Governor’s staffers that I should use this case as a “teachable moment” for the people of Southern Illinois. I am serious…that is what the staffer said.
In short, the Pritzker administration canceled Confederate Railroad because the Confederate flag offends many people.
They refused to cancel Snoop Dogg even though it offends many people. I believe in very limited government censorship. I believe even less in double standards.
In light of all of this, it is understandable that many want to boycott the DuQuoin Fair. I fear that any such boycott will be a harsh blow to Southern Illinois’ economy and unfairly punish small businesses that count on the fair to keep people employed. These small businesses did nothing to cause any kind of boycott.
I told the Pritzker people to believe the boycott is real and that they will ultimately own the resulting economic damage that results from this hypocritical decision.
* Gov. Pritzker’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Emily Bittner…
I wanted to respond directly to your request for information about Rep. Bryant’s Facebook post.
This administration’s guiding principle is that the State of Illinois will not use state resources to promote symbols of racism. Symbols of hate cannot and will not represent the values of the Land of Lincoln.
Unfortunately, Rep. Bryant posted incorrect information publicly about this meeting. While we had hoped to provide Rep. Bryant a better understanding of our position with a face-to-face conversation that she requested, we now need to correct her Facebook post.
Let’s start with the facts.
There were actually three senior level administration officials in the meeting. Two of them are African American. Rep. Bryant lectured them about why the Confederate flag should be acceptable based on “heritage.” The officials made a good faith effort to share with Rep. Bryant the following facts of American history and meaning of the flag:
The Confederate flag is a symbol of the hate, oppression and enslavement of African Americans. It was flown over states that committed treason and started a war - so that they could keep enslaving people. Hundreds of thousands were slaughtered in this fight over whether the nation should allow slavery or end it. Abraham Lincoln’s assassin was a disciple of the Confederacy. In short, the Confederate flag symbolizes slavery and the rebellion against the United States, and it is exactly what our state’s greatest son, President Lincoln, was fighting against. This symbol of hate, oppression and bloodshed is categorically different from political satire.
We hope that Rep. Bryant is not trying to publicly exploit themes of division and racism. Rep. Bryant told the administration officials that she wouldn’t display the Confederate flag in her own home because of its symbolism; if she would articulate her views publicly, that could be an opportunity to teach others about the flag’s meaning. She expressed hope that there wouldn’t be a boycott of the fair, but then used her social media to call the boycott “understandable.”
Rep. Bryant ended the conversation by passing along rumors about threats to the governor’s safety. When she said this, she added: “I love my people, but they’re crazy.” Given her concerns, we hoped her post would have reflected her stated desire to tone down the acrimony and the intimations of violence. We were sorely disappointed.
* Somehow, I’m getting a bit of online blame for this cancellation because I posted a question about it. Correlation is not always causation. I mean, remember this statement by Pritzker during the blowup over an offensive Illinois Policy Institute cartoon?…
There’s only one side about racism. There’s right and wrong, and we stand on the side of right.
But that hasn’t stopped some folks from emailing me over the past few days. Here’s one…
I’ll be having the last laugh when the people get tired of pieces of crap like you and you to hide just to stay alive. People are only going to take so much before they revolt, and when they do, people like you are going to go first. Keep stirring the pot and see what happens. Sooner or later its going to bite you back.
* The Southern Illinoisan has a piece today about the founder of a Facebook group which is calling for a boycott of the fair…
As Basler sees it, the flag has been unfairly attacked — a victim of political correctness imposed by liberal regions like northern Illinois.
“History is history, you’re not going to erase it. If you want to get rid of racism why have Black History Month and bring it up year after year,” he said. “One good thing came of it: bringing slaves over your family and heritage grew up here and now you’re free. Their own people sold them to colonists. If you want to blame anyone, blame yourselves.”
* The band has also released a statement…
As many of you know, we were scheduled to perform at the Illinois State Fair in Du Quoin, Illinois on August 27, along with our friends Restless Heart and Shenandoah. We have since been removed from that show by the Illinois Department of Agriculture because of the name of our band. This was very disappointing as we have played this fair before and enjoyed it very much. The outpouring of support from Confederate Railroad fans, fans of other acts, and the public in general, has been both overwhelming and very much appreciated. I would also like to thank the actors, athletes and fellow country music artists who have spoken out in support. It has been brought to my attention that several people have asked both Restless Heart and Shenandoah to cancel their shows in protest of our cancellation. I have spoken to both acts and encouraged them to perform as scheduled. Live concerts are how we pay our bills and feed our families. I would never want to see another act lose a payday because of this. Please go out to hear these two great bands. As I have said many times onstage, I am by no means a saint but, I am a man of faith and I have faith that God will see us through this as well as whatever comes next! Thank you for your support.
*** UPDATE *** Rep. Bryant called to insist that she never said “I love my people, but they’re crazy.” She said she was only expressing concern about angry and crazy people in southern Illinois if the governor marches in the fair parade. But I spoke with two of the three Pritzker people who were in the room and they both stood firmly behind the entire story related above by Ms. Bittner.