Monday, April 22, 2024

MY TURN: Thoughts behind hateful actions

by PHIL WARD/Guest Opinion
| March 30, 2024 1:00 AM

The news coverage itself is warranted but really all over the country, Coeur d’Alene, Spokane and points east. Why now? 

Would you imagine so much to-do about the occupants of a couple of pickup trucks with Confederate flags yelling racial slurs at people in Kootenai County even on Sherman Avenue? Why would and why should the media across our country, both the print and electronic, cover such a situation here? 

Our mayor, police chief, task force on human relations and other leaders have spoken out at a news conference denouncing such events. Racism is a despicable act and deserves to be denounced at the highest levels.

Having lived in the southern states, I understand that displaying the Confederate flag is not viewed as a symbol of acceptance, togetherness or kindness. Vehicles with Confederate flags, the Gadsden flag and others with symbols and names are unfortunately fairly common in North Idaho. 

Any person regardless of nationality, race or national origin walking or driving along most any street could be offended by this spectacle. What makes the University of Utah basketball players walking along Sherman Avenue so newsworthy and why? 

This is a terribly racist incident and not the behavior we expect of our citizens, certainly not in this place and this time, 2024. Any person anywhere subjected to this display should create community outrage and call for any proper legal action that might be possible. 

We who live here know that isn’t happening. As a community we seem to ignore it. A live and let live attitude perhaps but why is this incident different?

The national news coverage certainly creates a need to respond. When a major sports event is impacted and the mindset of athletes is focused beyond the game, that’s a problem. 

When Spokane arranges for athletes to be housed in Cd'A and such an incident happens, that also reflects poorly on Spokane and Gonzaga as well as Coeur d’Alene. Could this affect the ability to bring a major sports event to this area? Absolutely.

I don’t intend to downplay the outrageous racist action that warrants extensive coverage but money can creep through the door and amplify the outrage and the media coverage. The revenue generated for any community can be substantial as can the loss of revenue. 

Keep in mind that Coeur d’Alene relies on tourism for our local economy. Money certainly is a legitimate concern, which warrants the media coverage. The coverage should alert us all to be offended by any such displays in our community. 

Hopefully our leaders, all of our leaders, will speak up and state this type of behavior is not acceptable in Kootenai County on any day against any person. We all, community wide, need to speak out to make our community better and denounce the public display of racism.

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Phil Ward is a Coeur d'Alene resident.