Express & Star comment: Stop looking for racism which simply isn't there
It is incredibly sad to see the Black Country flag once again finding itself at the centre of controversy.
In the past it has come under attack from a clueless MP, and prior to that from a London-based political activist desperate to make a name for himself.
Now the bright sparks in charge at West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) have decided to ban the flag from being displayed at the region's fire stations.
The reason, according to chief fire officer Phil Loach, is that the service has been "made aware" that the flag's imagery has a "potential link to slavery".
An investigation has been launched so fire chiefs can gain "a fully rounded view".
- 'This has upset a lot people': Fire chiefs accused of being 'short-sighted' over Black Country flag ban
- Fire stations banned from flying Black Country flag on region's special day
- 'Disgusted' MPs demand apology over fire station ban on Black Country flag
This raises a number of questions, the key one being, why has the service suddenly become aware of concerns about the flag eight years into its existence?
To state the bleedin' obvious – for Mr Loach's benefit – the imagery used on the flag is in no way intended to be linked to slavery.
The chain across its centre represents the chain-making industry that the Black Country became famous for many moons ago, and also symbolises the links forged between the region's different communities.
It has been flown from fire stations on Black Country Day for years, and to the best of our knowledge has never been the subject of a single complaint.
It just might be that this decision is a result of WMFS being desperate to promote its 'woke' credentials at a time when genuine concerns over racism in our society have come to the fore.
Yet by misinterpreting what the flag represents, they risk shifting the focus away from legitimate issues surrounding racism.
All of those involved should be utterly ashamed of themselves for targetting our fantastic flag, which let's not forget, was designed by a young schoolgirl.
Unfortunately we live in an age where there are plenty of fools who appear to actively seek things to be offended by, often on other people's behalf.
In the case of this region's great flag, people really should stop searching for racism that simply isn't there.