NORWALK, Iowa - The Confederate Flag no longer flies over the grounds of the South Carolina State House. But it flies with pride at the home of one Norwalk man.
Kim Paulsen says he's sending a message. "I'm trying to say that I'm an American." Paulsen said, "That according to the Constitution I have the right to do whatever I want to do on my property. We don't have to agree with it. We don't have to like it either. But it's everybody's right to have that opinion."
He doesn't see the confederate flag as a symbol of racism. "No. Absolutely not. As a matter of fact the flag represents state's rights. sovereignty." Paulsen said.
When asked if he is a racist or white supremacist, Paulsen replied, "No. Absolutely not. But I have been warned that that might be something that's projected. And that's fine." As for the flag, he said, "It's a symbol of being a rebel. Of going against the system."
Verna Williams is a daycare provider in Des Moines. She says she tries to shield her kids from racism, but it's not easy. She sees the Confederate Flag as more than just a symbol of southern pride or the rebel spirit. "I know what it means to me and what I teach my children." she said, "And it's live and in color. And for the African-American community, it means...it is a symbol of racism."
Still, Williams says, taking down the Confederate Flag will do nothing to end racism. "No. Racism is real and in color and it is black and white, green purple pink. And it doesn't matter." Williams said, "A flag going down is not going to change anything. The country is still going to be divided."
Paulsen agrees, and, he says, if people do consider the Confederate Flag to be a reminder of slavery, that's all the more reason to leave it up; as a reminder, he says, of a dark chapter in our country's history. "The confederate flag or slavery." Paulsen said, "If we can't look back at it without having people try to hide it, or get rid of it because they think it's evil or...if we can't learn from our past we're gonna repeat it."