The owners of a Michigan bed and breakfast have removed a Norwegian flag that had been hanging outside their building for two years because they said too many upset folks have confused it for a Confederate flag, the Lansing State Journal reported.
What are the details?
Greg and Kjersten Offenbecker, owners of The Nordic Pineapple in St. Johns, told the paper it never occurred to them that people would mistake the Norwegian flag as anything else. But after receiving the latest in what Kjersten Offenbecker called "at least a dozen hateful emails" and twice as many comments last week, they took the flag down, the State Journal said.
They had been hanging Norway's flag as a nod to Kjersten Offenbecker's Scandinavian heritage, the paper said, adding that her grandfather was born in Norway and their bed and breakfast's moniker is partly inspired by her family's history.
And it wasn't long until the first volley of confusion regarding the flag hit them.
Kjersten Offenbecker told the paper the couple was still new to the area when they were visiting a downtown shop and its owner told them a customer mentioned their bed and breakfast.
"I was so happy at first," she recalled to the State Journal — until they were informed that the customer also thought they were flying a Confederate flag.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
"We were panicked initially because we were like, 'Oh my Gosh. This town thinks that we're hanging the Confederate flag,'" Kjersten Offenbecker recounted to the paper, adding that she doesn't see the Norwegian flag as anything like the Confederate flag.
While both flags have red backgrounds and two crossing blue bars outlined in white, that's where the similarities end. The Norwegian flag's crossing bars create right angles while the Confederate flag's crossing bars create an "X" — not to mention the its famous white stars within the blue bars.
Photo by: Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
'It bugs me as far as the stupidity of people'
"It bugs me as far as the stupidity of people," Greg Offenbecker told the State Journal. "Even if the flag is blowing in the wind or laying limp, there are no stars on it. They look nothing alike."
When confronted about their Norwegian flag in other instances, the paper said Kjersten Offenbecker would usually reply, "Can you look again?"
She also would explain that they're the last people who'd fly a flag many equate with racism, as two of the Offenbecker's children, ages 12 and 15, are black, the paper said.
But the confrontations kept coming, with people asking the couple to remove the Norwegian flag and accusing them of promoting racism, the State Journal said, adding that the latest person to get in their faces about it said they should be "ashamed."
"How could we be so bigoted and close minded, this person wrote, and I was really hurt because I feel like we've done a lot to integrate into this small community and be part of St. Johns," Kjersten Offenbecker recounted to the paper.
The flag comes down
Fed up with the anger and ignorance, the couple took down the Norwegian flag — as well as the American flag that had been next to it — last week, the State Journal said.
"I was saying leave it up, and she was pretty dead set on taking it down," Greg Offenbecker noted to the paper. "I said, 'If you take down one, take down both.'"
In a July 20 post on The Nordic Pineapple's Facebook page, the couple wrote, "We love being members of the St Johns community and are heartbroken to have had to make this decision. Given the current cultural climate and the idea that people are judging us based on the misconception of the national Norwegian flag vs. the Confederate flag, this is what is best for our family and our Inn."
While several community members have urged them to rehang Norway's flag, the Offenbeckers told the State Journal they won't unless they can ensure it won't be confused with the Confederate flag.
Flag removed from Saint Johns bed and breakfast over Confederate confusion youtu.be