editorial (2005-33)

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Warring Over a Losing Flag

Don’t save your Confederate money, boys and girls.…

Knoxville Could Become a Greenway Gateway

Warring Over a Losing Flag

The banning of displays of the Confederate battle flag at Maryville High School athletic events by that neighboring city’s school board last week was the thing to do for a number of good reasons. It also directs attention to the other area school with the Rebel nickname, whose students are also known to wave the Stars & Bars at their games.

West High School’s Rebels, like Maryville’s Red Rebels, are explained away by school officials as generic rebels, unrelated to the Confederacy and its legacy. That’s a valid explanation. So what’s the flag for? Aside from the inappropriateness of using a symbol that is offensive to many people—the descendants of American slaves, for instance—the battle flag of the secessionists is a downright silly choice. They lost. And their flag has approximately the currency of Confederate currency. It’s worthless and has been for 140 years, except to diehards or racists bent on preserving an unenviable, if not reprehensible, image. Let’s let it and its 19th-century specters rest in museums. Those grownups who elect to display it have the perfect right to do so. It’s an expression of free speech, protected by the Constitution, the flag of the United States, and the A.C.L.U., among other institutions. But it’s still a loser’s banner. Let’s not inflict it on our young. The American South is a wonderful place. But that South isn’t going to rise again in futility bound for failure. We’re all Americans now, not just Southerners or Northerners.

If a rebel flag were to be chosen in this country to symbolize a school’s spirit, the obvious pick would have to be the coiled serpent, fangs bared, bearing the slogan, “Don’t Tread on Me.” Its employment early in the American Revolution by bands of rebels organizing to win liberty from British sovereignty is worthy of continued respect. They won. We won, thereby giving the very title of “Rebel” its positive intent and lending it its panache.


Knoxville Could Become a Greenway Gateway

The adoption of the federal transportation bill last week provides initial funding for greenway expansions and connections that will greatly enhance those already in place. And the Haslam administration is ready to take advantage of those funds.

Several routes are under consideration, including one connecting the Neyland Greenway and the Old City, linking the World’s Fair Park and the Knoxville Convention Center with both Volunteer Landing and the Old City, via Lower and Upper Second Creek Greenways and a line paralleling Jackson Avenue. That would permit pedestrian- and bicycle-only access to some of Knoxville’s most appealing commercial locations along a scenic, landscaped trail, rather than along city streets busy with vehicular traffic.

Another, longer-term proposal—contingent on a Tennessee Department of Transportation-approved walkway crossing the James White Bridge—would link the 15 miles of existing greenways in the city with the Will Skelton Greenway, to the Ijams Nature Center and the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area along the south bank of the Tennessee River. That route could lead to a greenway to be designed this fall that follows the French Broad, Pigeon and Little Pigeon Rivers to Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Knoxville, Knox County, Sevier County and its three mentioned cities are partnering on that plan.

Still another proposed route—again contingent on a TDOT-planned 12-foot-wide walkway crossing the river along Alcoa Highway at the Buck Karnes Bridge—would present a link to the planned Knox Blount Greenway, connecting Knoxville with Alcoa, Maryville and Townsend greenway stretches, eventually leading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through Pigeon Forge.

If those ideas sound grandiose, remember that 15 years ago, there were no greenways here at all. Mayor Ashe got something started that’s been embraced by the county, adjoining counties, the state and the federal government. It will be an expensive proposition to bring the plans and proposals to fruition. But Mayor Haslam, county Mayor Mike Ragsdale and leaders of the adjoining counties and communities to the south have taken up the momentum and are proceeding with the necessary planning and design responsibilities.

We applaud the city and county initiatives in establishing more greenways and planning for more. This pleasurably scenic part of East Tennessee can be much better appreciated on foot or by bicycle than it can by car. We look forward to the day when Knoxville is the gateway through which people can hike or bike on their own exclusive trail, all the way to the Smokies.

© 2005 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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