“Take it down.” Three simple words but ones that resulted in a firestorm of controversy Monday afternoon.
Reporter Jerry Tipton posed a question to Calipari, asking for his opinion on the Confederate flag. A number of fans felt the question should never have been asked during a conference about basketball. However, it seemed to be a fair inquiry given the remarks Coach Frank Martin of South Carolina had made via social media on Sunday. Regardless, the question was asked and Coach Cal answered, “Really?” and then continued “Obviously, it offends a portion of our society, so people are deciding to take them down. That’s how I feel. It may offend, so I’d say do it.” He asked if Kentucky used the flag and was told no, but that statues of various Confederate leaders are in the state capitol and in downtown Lexington. Cal’s response? “Wow. ” Coach Cal later went to Facebook to clarify his stance:
Was just asked a question on a basketball conference call about the confederate flag. I don’t want any confusion. I think we should take it down…
Simple, right? He was asked a question and he answered it. But there seems to be a portion of our fan base that feels Cal should never speak on anything but basketball. Many replied that Calipari should have simply said “No comment”, while others were even more harsh in their remarks. Note: I am copying these remarks verbatim.
What seemed to be lost on a number of fans was the fact Calipari was speaking on whether the flag should be displayed in or on state grounds. Nowhere did he say an individual who chooses to display the flag on their own property, on their vehicles or on their person should be prohibited from doing so. Rather, he was acknowledging the reality that the flag is offensive to many and a state building is not where it should be displayed.
There were also more than a few fans who suggested Cal had no business expressing any opinion on the flag because he was a “northerner.” To that I say the following: I am a lifelong Kentuckian and I happen to agree with John Calipari. The flag should not be displayed at or on state buildings. I am not uneducated about the Confederate flag nor its origins. But not having it flown at a state building does not take away from your southern “heritage.” As Frank Martin so eloquently stated: “I believe it should be displayed in a museum and not at a public place which represents ALL the members of our incredible state.”
I’d like to think the BBN can be reasonable and understand that it is indeed possible to disagree with a person’s opinion and yet still like that person. I’d like to believe the BBN understands why so many people find the Confederate flag offensive (SPOILER: it has nothing to do with your heritage, but it has everything to do with hate and oppression). Most of all, I’d like to know that the BBN can express their disagreement with a person’s opinion without sinking to the levels of name-calling and personal attacks. But for now, all those wishes are but a dream. Here’s hoping that dream will one day be a reality.
If you’d like to hear the entire coaches conference, you can find it here
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