The Hamilton Tiger Cats have proposed a trade — with a controversial downtown restaurant.
Cameron Bailey owns Hillbilly Heaven at the corner of King Street East and Walnut Street North. Last week, he garnered some flack for using the Confederate flag as a sign on the restaurant. Some say the flag is inappropriate because of its racist overtones.
Bailey told CBC Hamilton that members of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were supportive of his restaurant:
"I have guys from the Tiger-Cats come in here and some of them are southern black guys," Bailey said. "As soon as there's some TiCat players that say 'hey, take that down,' then I'll think about it."
Here is a response from Bob Young, the caretaker of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats:
As the Caretaker of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats I get to take part in a lot of fun behind-the-scenes football stuff. However, because we employ a lot of smart football operations people, I don't get the opportunity to be a part of one of the most exciting aspects of this business — the ability to make trades.
So, it's with great enthusiasm that I propose the first trade of my Ticats career to you.
Accompanying this letter are the official flags of the State of North Carolina and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
I'd like to trade you these flags in exchange for "future considerations."
(These considerations would see you discontinue the use of the Confederate battle flag for the foreseeable future).
Let me be clear: I love Hillbillies. I like everything about them. When I first moved to North Carolina my wife accused me of making her and my daughters do a "reverse Beverly Hillbillies" by moving from the big city to the hills of North Carolina. She was right, and wrong. From pulled pork (the best in the US by the way) to huntin' turkeys, I've enjoyed everything about living in a modern Southern state for the last 16 years.
On the other hand, I have also been a part of teams that have led, and are still leading the technology world, based out of Research Triangle Park here in North Carolina.
The 21st century South is a community much like those of any modern society in the world today, where we embrace all of our fellow citizens as our equals. The old attitudes and beliefs relating to race as symbolized by the battle flag are now part of our distant past. We would like to see these consigned exclusively to museums, and graveyards of fallen Southern civil war soldiers.
As a fellow entrepreneur, Hamiltonian, and Tiger-Cat fan, please accept the flag of the Great State of North Carolina as a much more appropriate symbol of all the positive things you are trying to say with your celebration of all things "Hillbilly."
Bob Young Caretaker, Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club
But Hillbilly Heaven isn't the only Hamilton eatery emblazoned with the Confederate flag — the Dirty South food truck also has the flag on the side of the truck. Some people in Hamilton have been wondering why the flag is an issue for one restaurant and not the other.
On Wednesday, Dirty South announced they would be removing the flag from the truck. Here is an email owner Brett Liersch sent to CBC Hamilton:
"We are making a few changes to the look of the truck. The truck was designed after the General Lee, it was never meant to be offensive or disrespectful to anyone. We had a few people concerned when we opened and had assured them that we were not promoting hate or racism in any way and have had no complaints since.
Now that Hillbilly Heaven has flown the flag as a way to gain attention … we find it necessary to replace some of our vinyl out of respect for the Hamilton community that may find it offensive and do not want to draw negative attention to local businesses that allow us to park on their property.
So to answer your question directly, yes the flag is coming down ... the food is not!
Sincerely, Brett Liersch (The Dirty South)"