ELGIN – A U 46 Board member that said "the US flag is nothing more than toilet paper' to her made a statement at the school board's meeting Monday night that the Daily Herald is calling an "apology."
In fact, it appears Traci O'Neal Ellis made no apologies for her comments.
"I am sorry," Ellis told those in attendance. "I make no apologies for my comment about the flag. I made them as a private citizen, as a taxpayer in this country on my personal Facebook page on a matter of import in the current national discourse based upon my personal experiences."
"I could have been much more circumspect in my criticism and more elegant in my language," she said. "There is a huge gap between the America that we say we are and the America that we actually are, and it is that gap that my comments are addressing."
Fellow board member Jeanette Ward called out Ellis on her unpatriotic public comments, saying, "Americans are a tolerant people, but we typically don’t appreciate people who disrespect the flag by burning it, spitting on it, or…well we all know what toilet paper is used for."
Ward also criticized "fools" that texted and commented vulgar messages to Ellis after hearing of her statement.
Indeed, Ward, who found herself earlier this year at the heart of a controversy over mixed gender bathroom use at the district's public schools, defended Ellis' right to speak her mind.
And because the Daily Herald chose not to quote any of Ward's public statement, she provided the entirety of her comments to the school board and parents in attendance to Illinois Review:
Thank you to everyone who came out to speak tonight, exercising their 1st Amendment rights in the Greatest Country on earth.
The American flag is not a white nationalist symbol nor a “false symbol of hope”. It is the symbol of the Greatest Country on earth. You cannot “love and respect the flag”, while at the same time saying it “means nothing more than toilet paper”. American freedoms extend to all Americans of all colors, including Ms. Ellis. No one has tried to remove Ms. Ellis’ right to speak. But free speech allows those who disagree to also express their opinions. And it is not racist to do so.
Indeed, there are many African-Americans who are proud of America and her symbols – take Larry Elder, Allen West, Clarence Thomas, Star Parker, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Alan Keyes, JC Watts, Condoleeza Rice, Mia Love, and Jason Riley, for just a few examples.
I remember attending my grandfather’s funeral when my grandmother was handed a folded flag while being told, “a grateful nation remembers”. I’m proud of both my grandfathers, who served in World War II, one of whom earned a Purple Heart. And I’m proud of my Dad, who served as a Marine in Vietnam.
Americans are a tolerant people, but we typically don’t appreciate people who disrespect the flag by burning it, spitting on it, or…well we all know what toilet paper is used for.
I condemn Ms. Ellis’ remarks in the strongest possible terms. However, I do not support forcing Ms. Ellis to resign. She is free to resign of her own free will, of course, but the remedy for those who disagree with her is elections. Elections have consequences, and free people must take the responsibility to engage in the hard work of civic involvement, and not just when something outrageous is said. I hope those who live in U-46 will remember that when the next school board elections are held in 2019.
I’d like to conclude with a quote from Ronald Reagan: “Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.” American ideals and ideas are worth defending. God bless America.
During board member discussion, I also condemned the statements that many fools messaged to Ms. Ellis – calling her profane names – as disrespectful, appalling, and disgraceful.
Both opponents and supporters of Ms. Ellis commented at the school board meeting: