Protesters raise Confederate flag outside March Madness game, NCAA unmoved
Lest anyone still argue that Donald Trump’s reign of terror hasn’t emboldened bigots to come out of pretend-hiding, this past weekend a group of angry college-basketball enthusiasts with a pickup truck hoisted the Confederate flag atop a parking garage next to Bon Secours Wellness Arena, site of several NCAA Tournament match-ups, including South Carolina against Duke.
The irony, of course, is that this coulda-shoulda been a home game for the Durham, NC-based Blue Devils. Lo, as a result of North Carolina’s legislature passing 2016’s controversial HB2 “bathroom bill” — preventing transgender people from using government-run restrooms that correspond to the gender they identify with — the NCAA summarily banned the Tar Heel State from hosting tourney contests.
The Gamecocks themselves were lucky to be hosting their opponents. From 2001-2015, the NCAA barred predetermined championship games from taking place in South Carolina, a direct action against the Confederate flag continuing to fly on statehouse grounds. The sanction was lifted in July 2015, shortly after the flag was removed from the state-capitol premises in response to white-supremacist Dylann Roof murdering nine civilians inside a Charleston Church.
Yet, there a small band of Confederate dunces gathered Sunday, divisive emblem raised high above their heads and said parking facility, seemingly dissatisfied with their symbolic political victory and presumably not sated by South Carolina’s actual upset win over Duke. Regarding this motley crew of sore winners/losers, the NCAA released a reasonable, if un-compelling, statement that, “No symbols that compromise that commitment will be permitted to be displayed on venue property that the tournament controls. Freedom of speech activities on public property in areas surrounding the arena are managed by the city of Greenville and we are supportive of the city’s efforts.”
Meanwhile, Texas and any other state contemplating parallel legislation to North Carolina’s exclusionary dictum are staring down the same NCAA repercussions. And with the Final Four set to take place in San Antonio next year, don’t be surprised if conservative-leaning sports lovers in Lone Star territory are suddenly overcome with passive indifference to who pisses where.