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Editorial: Deep hatred embodied in the Confederate flag

St. Anthony's High School has expelled four students

St. Anthony's High School has expelled four students in two separate incidents that the principal said were racially offensive -- one involving display of a Confederate battle flag at a school sports event and the other involving blackface. This picture of students with the flag was taken in a St. Anthony's hallway on April 9, 2014.

If you go to the website of Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., the alleged killer of three people outside Jewish centers in Kansas, you will see that the Confederate battle flag is both the site's logo and, in photos of racist marches, its most dominant feature.

Such a flag has no place at St. Anthony's High School in South Huntington, nor do the students who brought it there. Their actions were unacceptable because of the message the flag is used to convey, made clear by the people who wave it. People such as Cross.

A high-profile activist, felon and sometime political candidate also known as Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., he was known well enough that he once had a 40-minute interview on "The Howard Stern Show." Cross is also a leader in a white supremacist movement that preaches the killing of Jews, blacks and Catholics and the overthrow of the federal government. Cross' shooting victims on Sunday were actually two Methodists and a Catholic. As he was put into a squad car, Cross yelled, "Heil Hitler!"

In America today, that hatred and that violent movement are what this flag most clearly stands for -- the same flag that was proudly carried at a thousand Ku Klux Klan marches, cross burnings and lynchings. So when two seniors at St. Anthony's came to a school sports event displaying that flag on April 9, they gave school officials a choice: Brush it off, or draw a line and deliver a strong message making it clear how completely unacceptable such behavior is.

The school did exactly the right thing, expelling the students. It also expelled two sophomores after they posted on social media a picture of one in blackface, along with racially inflammatory language.

Brother Gary Cregan, principal of the school, said, "This is not the way we should be living as American citizens and not the way we should be living as people in America." He's right. Call it a teachable moment, and action needed to be taken. We cannot tolerate behavior that communicates so much hatred and intolerance in a school setting without eroding respect and common decency in society.


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