A few minutes after I posted David Crisp’s column on the Confederate battle flag this morning, I sat down to breakfast and opened the Billings Gazette.
On the opinion page, I noticed a guest opinion piece headlined “Remove the battle flag, but then what?” And then I read the byline: “By JOHN M. CRISP, Tribune News Service.”
I was reasonably sure that John was David’s brother. I met him years ago when he came up from Texas to visit. The three of us went hiking in the Crazy Mountains on St. Patrick’s Day, then stopped at Sonny O’Day’s bar in Laurel for a bowl of chili on the way home.
A look at his bio at the end of the piece clinched it: “John M. Crisp, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas.” I called David, just for rock-solid confirmation, and he said John was indeed his brother, and that as far as he knows this was John’s first appearance in the Gazette.
David said it was inevitable that both of them, as Texans and regular writers of opinion pieces, would take up the issue of the Confederate battle flag (and they’re the only two writers I’ve seen who are careful to call it the battle flag, not simply the flag), but it was still pretty amazing that both would be published on the same day on the same subject.
Their pieces are similar also in that they discuss the suggestion that the ban on Rebel imagery by the government or institutions affiliated with the government be extended to statues and place names commemorating people like Robert E. Lee. I don’t want to steal John’s thunder, but I can’t resist quoting his conclusion:
“(I)f we renamed all of the streets that commemorate Confederates, slaveholders, racists, Indian-killers, murderers, thieves, liars, misogynists, adulterers, wife-beaters, child-abusers and fornicators, we’d have to get by with Avenue B and 10th Street.”
Too true, and particularly relevant in a town where Indian Wars generals like Custer, Terry, Miles and Howard all have streets named after them (and in the case of Custer, innumerable other landmarks and geographical constructs).