* The Sun-Times editorial board says the Confederate flag is “about the South’s historic defense of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, white citizens’ councils, the Ku Klux Klan, American fascism, white supremacy, white nationalism and everyday off-the-rack bigotry.” But…
The Illinois Department of Agriculture, working with its new local fair manager, Josh Gross, announced the entire lineup for the Du Quoin State Fair weeks ago — on June 17. It scheduled Confederate Railroad to play on a Tuesday, Aug. 27.
The time to take a pass on a band like Confederate Railroad was back then. It would have been entirely reasonable for state officials to decline to book the band just because of the art on the band’s album cover, which includes a small Confederate flag.
We wish they had.
But for Pritzker to reach down from his heights now, after all the contracts have been signed, and cancel the booking for this one band strikes us as excessive government involvement in matters of free expression.
The way these things usually work is the artist signs the final contract on the day of the show after negotiating terms with the fair and coming to an arrangement. So, technically, not all contracts had been signed.
But the governor’s people are pointing out that if the governor believes a lower-level person in his/her administration has made a big mistake, then shouldn’t the governor step in and change it? Regardless of what you may think of the decision, it’s Pritzker’s administration. So, if someone in his administration really messes up, he’s held responsible. Governors own.
* Daily Herald editorial…
Support for the band has swelled amid appearances of an elitist double standard, while the serious issues underlying the debate go unacknowledged.
Thus has a legitimate swipe at racism been transformed into a false narrative of “fascism” — all flowing from matters ostensibly defined as simple entertainment. If nothing else, we hope that’s a lesson schedulers keep in mind for future events that will bear the imprint of the state of Illinois.
* The Du Quoin Call’s editor…
Needless to say, social media was flooded this past weekend with statements from Southern Illinoisans berating the state’s decision. Some have even threatened to boycott this year’s Du Quoin State Fair. Such talk is a big-time overreaction.
What exactly would that accomplish?
A boycott might give some a personal sense of satisfaction, but what it would really accomplish is that it would hurt the vendors and all those hardworking lower-income employees who help make the fair a success each and every year. It would hurt the Southern Illinois economy plain and simple.
[Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield] described Monday’s meeting as “a good discussion” and said the administration’s reason for canceling the Du Quoin event was “they have a policy that they don’t allow anything with the Confederate flag or Nazi swastikas to be displayed.” He says he agrees with the concept, but he wondered if there is actually a written policy. He also wondered how far that policy goes when it comes to vendors at fairs — or even items sold in the gift shop at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.
In a visit to that gift shop Tuesday, Butler said, there were items — including card games on the themes of Civil War generals and armaments — with pictures of American and Confederate flags on the packaging.
CHRIS WILLS, spokesman for the museum, said the shop doesn’t sell items that would prominently feature the flag, like hats or T-shirts.
That has to be the weakest argument on this topic I’ve yet seen. C’mon, Tim.