CRESTON, IA (Bettendorf Growl) — A particularly sensitive and problematic photo is sweeping across the internet. The picture itself depicts five male students in white, pointed hoods resembling the Klu Klux Clan of 1865. They stand beside a makeshift burning cross.
In addition, a boy on right of the photo raises a Confederate flag, while a young man on the left poses with a gun. News articles also covering the story, such as New York Daily News, explain that the students attend Creston High School.
This scenario is possibly in response to another disturbing event that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 9. Protesters both for and against declared their stance on the idea of whether or not a statue of Robert E. Lee should be taken down.
At Creston High School students, the young men in the photograph are facing some serious repercussions for their actions, including being promptly kicked off their school’s football team. In an interview with USA Today’s Kyle Munson, the physical education coach Brian Morrison expressed his disappointment.
“You know, to be honest I was appalled,” he said. “It was very disturbing. Just taking the kids out of the equation, just looking at the photo, it’s one one of those things you see on national television that just curls your stomach.”
With big topics such as this, there’s usually many different perspectives circling around from youth and adults alike. There’s no exception for this one.
Cristina Zimmerman, a high school Spanish teacher, said, “I would be disappointed in their actions, but would not hold it against them or necessarily judge them for their actions. I think that many teenagers may not have proper perspective and may not use their brain before acting.”
Dustin Balius, a former Creston High School student, said, “It's like when a little kid does something bad, you should discipline them. More importantly though, you should also explain why it's wrong. You should show them the historical significance of what they’re doing. However, you can explain to some kids all you want about this stuff, but it won't sink in unless they actually go through the experience themselves, or through a friend or relative.”
Much controversy surrounds what the young men in the picture did because of underlying details such as freedom of speech, education, or what extent of punishment should be enacted.
“If they were my friend I would honestly just completely disregard them. Any way shape or form of racism or anything else like that is not okay, and it shouldn't be tolerated. I don't understand why people can't get around a person’s race or sexuality or any background like that. It doesn't matter if you have some sort of different belief because it doesn't necessarily make you a bad person,” senior Kaylee Cornwell said.
Details contribute to the main reason everyone tends to have a lot of trouble sorting these situations out. An adult who chose to remain anonymous said, “First the safety of all students, and then assess what rights and discipline would be into the situation. But to me the safety would come first. You need to be careful.”
Very true that safety for everyone, mentally and physically, should be a top priority in all cases, no matter what opinion anyone has.
“You know for decades now people have been saying racism doesn't exist anymore, but it’s really just been kinda buried until recent events. It's given a platform for people to express those opinions again. So now it's more important than ever to further education on civil rights issues,”Balius said.