College of Charleston President Glenn McConnell’s defense of the Confederate Battle Flag was an embarrassment to many of us who work at the college when he was hired by the board of trustees to lead our college.
In light of last week’s shootings, McConnell’s past defense of the Confederate flag is a new embarrassment for many of us at the college. It reinforces stereotypes of the South that non-Southerners assume typifies us all.
His assertion in the late 1990s that the removal of the flag would amount to “cultural genocide” was the grossest expression of political hyperbole.
Yet President McConnell has not uttered a word about the flag since last week’s shooting, and as we now all know, the alleged shooter embraced the flag in photos he posted on his web page.
I support the right of people to exercise free speech by placing the Confederate flag in their yard, on their car, on their body, etc.
But a city or state government should not embrace a symbol of racial hatred and intolerance and neither should a college president.
President McConnell not only represents me and my staff and faculty colleagues but, more importantly, he represents more than 10,000 students and thousands more college alumni.
President McConnell has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of other Republican and Democratic leaders across the state and nation who have acknowledged the harm that comes from the Confederate flag’s presence on the Capitol grounds. I hope President McConnell does the right thing and rises to the occasion.
Heath C. Hoffmann
College of Charleston