After first offering a contract to the country band Confederate Railroad to play at the DuQuoin State Fair on Aug. 27, the Illinois Department of Agriculture has withdrawn the offer — not because of its name but because its logo features a small reproduction of the Confederate flag.
“The Confederate flag is a symbol of not just slavery, but of treason against the United States,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “It is today the symbol of racists, of white nationalists, of the alt-right and so I do not think that the state of Illinois should be sponsoring something that is amplifying that symbol.”
It’s a fair assessment by Pritzker and one that will please most Illinoisans and especially those among his political base. But it also prompts questions about why the band was offered a contract in the first place and how far the Pritzker administration is willing to go to police acts scheduled for state fairs. While Confederate Railroad is off-limits, rapper Snoop Dogg — he of misogynistic lyrics — will play at the larger Illinois State Fair in Springfield on Aug. 16.
Confederate Railroad may end up laughing all the way to the bank after the cancellation. Soon after the DuQuoin contract was canceled, it was booked for a show at a motorcycle dealership in Marion, and an official with the Williamson County Fair said he hoped to book the band as well. As Oscar Wilde said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”