The chairman of the Iowa Republican Party says he’s all for free speech, but he does not want his party associated with the Confederate battle flag.
The issue has flared up after a couple from Pleasantville displayed three Confederate battle flags on their truck as they towed the Marion County Republican Party’s float in Independence Day parades in Pella and Pleasantville.
Jeff Kaufmann, the chairman of the Republican Party of Iowa, said today that he “will not tolerate” having the Republican “brand” associated with the Confederate battle flag.
“As the chair of the party, that is not where we want to go,” Kaufmann told Radio Iowa.
The couple involved — Owen and Linda Golay of Pleasantville — has resigned from the Marion County GOP’s governing board. One of the county’s GOP co-chairs told the local radio station he was “sickened” when he saw the Confederate flags on the vehicle pulling the GOP’s parade entry.
The county’s other cochair says, in retrospect, she should have asked the couple to take the flags off their truck, but she thought it was probably a free speech issue. Kaufmann said he’s left a “straight-forward message” with Marion County GOP officials about this episode.
“There are 17,000 young Iowa men that are laying in graves that fought against that very flag and everything it stood for,” Kaufmann said. “There’s really not a lot of conversation to have about that.”
And to the couple who displayed the Confederate battle flags, Kaufmann has this suggestion about their First Amendment rights: “Stand on a street corner and quote Robert E. Lee. I don’t care. While they’re on their way home, they might pick up a few flowers to put on the graves of the thousands and thousands of dead Union soldiers that gave their life to fight under the United States flag.”
A volunteer firefighter in Minnesota has been suspended after he flew a Confederate battle flag on a city-owned fire truck in a 4th of July parade in Albert Lea. Governor Terry Branstad told The Cedar Rapids Gazette the display of the Confederate flag in an Iowa parade was “just wrong and disrespectful” to Iowans who fought in the Civil War.
The Republican Party has its roots in the anti-slavery movement and the party’s first national convention in 1856 called for an end to slavery. Crawfordsville, Iowa — a stop on the Underground Railroad — claims to be the site of the first organizing meeting of the Republican Party. The meeting was held in February of 1854, in a Presbyterian church in Crawfordsville.
Today, South Carolina’s senate voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from a monument on the statehouse grounds in Columbia.