Bed-and-breakfast owners forced to remove Norwegian flag after people confuse it for the Confederate flag

The owners of a bed and breakfast in Michigan were just forced to remove a Norwegian flag, one which they have displayed for years, because people kept confusing it with the Confederate flag.

Greg and Kjersten Offenbecker, owners of The Nordic Pineapple in St. Johns, Michigan, told the Lansing State Journal that it had never occurred to them that people would think their Norwegian flag was a Confederate flag. However, they eventually decided to take the flag down after getting what Kjersten described as “at least a dozen hateful emails” and twice as many comments in the last week alone.

They had long enjoyed hanging the Norwegian flag as a nod to Kjersten’sĀ Scandinavian heritageā€”her grandfather was born in Norway, which is why they added Nordic to the name of their establishment. She explained that they were still new to the area when they went shopping downtown and were told by a store owner that a customer had mentioned their bed and breakfast.

“I was so happy at first,” Kjersten said.

But then the owner told them the customer had also said they were hanging a Confederate flag.

“We were panicked initially because we were like, ‘Oh my Gosh. This town thinks that we’re hanging the Confederate flag,'” Kjersten explained.

Though both flags have red backgrounds and two crossing blue bars outlined in white, they aren’t similar in any other way. While the Confederate flag’s crossing bars create an “X,” the Norwegian flag’s bars create right angles. In addition, the Confederate flag includes white stars in the blue.

“It bugs me as far as the stupidity of people,” Greg said. “Even if the flag is blowing in the wind or laying limp, there are no stars on it. They look nothing alike.”

Greg and Kjersten say they are the last people who are racist, as two of their own children are black. Whenever Kjersten was confronted about the flag, her usual response would be, “Can you look again?” The latest person to confront them about their flag angrily got in their faces and 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 said.

Last week, the couple removed both the Norwegian flag and the American flag next to it.

“I was saying leave it up, and she was pretty dead set on taking it down,” Greg said. “I said, ‘If you take down one, take down both.'”

This piece was written by PoliZette Staff on July 30, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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