Montrose Mirror Editorial

MHS Chieftain Editor Takes on Racism, Confederate Flag

By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE–In an editorial that has sparked an outcry among Montrose High School students, the school’s  award-winning newspaper, the Chieftain, apparently struck a nerve when co-editor in chief Kaylynn Miller published an editorial debunking the Confederate Flag in the newly published October Chieftain.

“All those people who have Southern Flag stickers on their lockers are complaining that it labels them as ‘white trash,’” said one former student, who asked not to be identified. “It’s blowing up Facebook.”

What Miller has tackled was the fact that something called “the Southern Cross” –which closely resembles the flag of the former Confederacy—appears to be a more popular symbol around campus these days than the United States flag.

“The flag so commonly mistaken as the Confederate Flag has been trending at MHS,” wrote Miller. “The flag used to represent the Confederate states of America, commonly associated with racism, is not in fact the one seen waving around in Montrose’s crisp fall air. This flag is known as “The Southern Flag” or “The Southern Cross.” The cross behind the 13 stars is a deeper shade of blue than the one found on the second adaptation of the Confederate flag. However, since most people do not carry around painted swatches on a daily basis, it is a common misconception that there are no differences between the flags.”

Miller goes on to discuss the Confederate Flag’s history as a symbol of racism and intolerance, at one point referring to  the Ku Klux Klan as a “white trash hate group,” –apparently the phrase that has enraged so many. She ends the article by suggesting that Southern states choose a new symbol, and by saying that those states that continue to support racism and hatred won’t be missed should they choose to secede. Inflammatory? Like a match to gasoline, in today’s volatile political climate. Fearless? Absolutely.

And yet, though we understand that there are many who will be outraged by this young editor’s decision to exercise her own right to free speech, we believe Kaylynn and her co-editor, Abby Padilla have done an excellent job of supporting their arguments—both in the “Debunking the Confederate Flag” piece and in two other articles which appear in the Chieftain, one entitled “First Amendment Protects Hate Speech,” by Padilla, and a brief history of the Confederate Flag, by Miller. It is the job of journalists to ask tough questions, and to provide real information to the public. An editorial is an opinion, and Miller is entitled to hers. It is not an anonymous social media post, but a public stand by someone writing under her own name.  While any discussion of breaking up the union of states that Lincoln fought to preserve is ill-advised, perhaps those who choose to wrap themselves in a symbol of intolerance and anti-U.S. sentiment should develop a thicker skin—and an understanding of why the Civil War was fought in the first place. The U.S. flag that they scorn has cost countless lives, and made their own freedoms possible.