A recent story in The Star about a controversial group has brought a fair amount of criticism from readers who don’t think it should have been covered at all.
The piece looked at local branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a nonprofit for male descendants of Civil War soldiers who fought for the South. It counts 1,445 members in Missouri and 480 in Kansas.
In print, the story ran prominently, on the front page of the Oct. 11 Arts + Culture section.
“The members of this group are supporting their ancestors who believed in the right to enslave human beings due to the color of their skin,” wrote one emailer. “They have a right to support the losing side in a Civil War but I still don’t see how it’s appropriate content for the front page (of a section) of a major newspaper.”
“Some people would find this promotional piece as offensive as the Confederate flag, as it presented them in a neutral light and ignores their problematic agenda,” wrote another.
“I do not understand why the paper ran an article that glosses over the realities and even disseminated information on where to join this organization,” wrote yet another.
It should be noted that the story did talk to Anita L. Russell of the Kansas City NAACP and Leonard Zeskind, president of the Kansas City-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, who even made a Nazi analogy — something I normally find fraught with problems.
I’m not sure I can agree fully with those critics who found the story purely positive. But this is a topic that stirs emotion, and I wasn’t at all surprised to hear these voices of disapproval.