Confederate flag flyer says he’s not racist
TUPPER LAKE — The Confederate flag in Quinton Haynes’ apartment window is not the only one in Tupper Lake, or the Adirondacks, but it may be the most well-known one now.
The flag can be seen as one drives east out of town. It has been there since Jan. 1. This summer it was photographed by the Adirondack Explorer magazine for an article on racism, which prompted a Tupper Lake town councilman to draft a resolution condemning racism and asking residents to take down Confederate flags. That resolution was not seconded or voted upon at an Oct. 8 town board meeting, a move that led to more publicity for the flag.
Now its owner says there are some thinks he wants the public to know about him and his flag.
Haynes said he believes his flag does not stand for bigotry or division, and wants to let the public know he is not racist.
“What is so bad about my flag being up there?” he asked. “There’s flags all over this town. I could point out 10 houses right now that have the Confederate flag hanging, and those people are racist, but I’m not.”
The controversial flag will stay up, he said.
Haynes was asked what the flag symbolizes to him.
“What does the flag mean to me? Dude. United,” he said. “Everybody is united and one.”
If that seems surprising for the flag of a breakaway would-be nation that fought a war to preserve slavery, Haynes can explain.
He said the flag has been valued in his family since the Civil War, when they lived in South Carolina. He’s lived in the Adirondacks most of his life and said he’s displayed it in every apartment in which he’s lived, including in the Junction neighborhood in Tupper Lake and in downtown Saranac Lake. The flag has been on display at his home on state Route 3 since Jan. 1, he said.
He said it reminds him of “tradition, family and where our great country has come from.”
“That flag, yes, it came from that era where there was slaves, but that flag is the united symbol of my family,” Haynes said. “Yes, I understand whites owned Blacks. OK, that was (expletive) up.”
He said his family’s farm did not own slaves, but all the other farms in their part of South Carolina did. He said if he lived back then, he would have rather died than owned a slave.
He said it is “messed up” that people compare the Confederate flag to the Nazi flag.
“My flag in my window is not because, ‘Oh, I don’t like that Black person,'” Haynes said. “No, my best friend is African-American. My step-family is African-American.”
Haynes called the Enterprise Thursday and said he wanted to talk about his flag after seeing it being discussed on the paper’s Opinion page. He said he thought people should have talked with him first before talking about it publicly.
“Instead of coming to me and knocking on my door and asking me, everybody’s just giving their opinion,” Haynes said.
He said in recent days he has felt targeted and discriminated against.
“Since those letters have started, I’ve got cars driving by my house, flipping me off, blowing their horns,” Haynes said.
He said the only people he has seen talking about the issue in newspaper articles and in letters to the editor are white people.
When the Enterprise told Haynes multiple Black local residents or tourists have contacted the paper to discuss how the flag makes them feel uncomfortable, but do not speak about it publicly for fear of retaliation, Haynes said that is an example of them being racist toward him.
“That is an African-American being racist toward a white person because they think I’m going to retaliate over their opinion of my flag,” Haynes said. “Doesn’t that make them racist?”
Asked what he thinks about how the flag makes Black people feel, he said, “It bothers me that it makes people feel uncomfortable.
“But then again, how long has it been since we’ve had a slave?”
He acknowledged that people are concerned about racism now, referencing nationally publicized killings of unarmed Black people by police this year.
But he said he believes racism is the result of Black people’s actions.
“You go down to the city … you wonder why people are racist? What do you see on the streets down there? You see gangs,” Haynes said. “They are making themselves look that way.”
Haynes said when he had a friend who found the Confederate flag offensive he would take it down when he came over, to respect his wishes. But he said he’s not going to take it down for people he feels are bashing him.
“I don’t mean anything by it,” Haynes said. “If these Black families here in town, if they feel that it bothers them. … I’m an easy-going guy. You come down, knock and my door, ‘Hey, can I talk to you about that flag real quick?’ Dude, not a problem. I will listen to anybody that has anything to say about it.
“But when it comes time, don’t ask me to take my flag down.”