On Monday, Cody Nelson, a senior at Crosby-Ironton High School in north-central Minnesota, was disciplined for displaying a Confederate flag on the back of his vehicle.
This was a no-no on school property, and Nelson's presence in the school parking lot did not go unnoticed. He was sent home and suspended for the day. With just days before his graduation, Nelson could have tried to sweep an embarrassing episode under the rug.
But his mom would have none of that. Dorene Nelson dug in, rallying friends and taking her case to the media. She explained to Forum News that any connection between the Confederate flag, symbol of the pro-slavery South in the Civil War, and racism, was a misunderstanding.
For the Nelsons, it seems the flag somehow represents hunting (?) and the Second Amendment. "He was just trying to respect those people that fought for everything where we are today," she told Forum News.
It's a tough argument to grasp. If the Confederacy fought for the right to bear arms — pretend this isn't wrong — and then lost... wouldn't people have lost that right?
Moving on. Nelson said her son was particularly hurt by accusations of racism, given that "half his family is black." (Some of Cody's best family members are black!)
On Tuesday, Dorene, Cody, and family and friends took his case to the school, with media on hand to watch the events unfold. Here's an exchange captured by the Brainerd Dispatch:
"I'm not trying to be racist..." Cody says.
A guy cuts him off: "Listen, the flag isn't about racism. Despite what these people are programming the rest of society and the media to believe, it's not."
One of the "supporters" of Nelson's cause, Ryan Johnson, later gave his own interpretation of history, saying the Civil War was "fought over currency," and "only became about slavery near the end."
In a private meeting, the Nelsons and the school reached a compromise. Nelson, and his white Ford Taurus with the Confederate flags, would return to school, and would park outside the school parking lot for the rest of the week. He'll be allowed to graduate on Friday.
Dorene Nelson said the family would "continue to stand proud for whatever we believe in."
In her earlier interview with Forum News, Dorene had explained Cody's flying of the flag in this way:
"He felt like he was outnumbered because he was trying to be supportive of how far we've come in our country."
Exactly how far have we come, Dorene?