A couple who runs a bed and breakfast near Lansing, Michigan, removed a display of the Norwegian flag after passersby repeatedly mistook it for the Confederate battle flag.
According to the Lansing State Journal, Greg and Kjersten Offenbecker took down the Norwegian flag adorning The Nordic Pineapple, a bed and breakfast they run out of their home in St. Johns, Michigan, about 24 miles north of Lansing. The stately Civil War-era house was built by a Union brevet general in 1861 and sprawls over nearly 9,000 square feet. Kjersten Offenbecker’s grandfather was born in Norway, and the establishment is named for her Norwegian heritage.
The flag received little attention since they moved to the property in 2018, but the turmoil roiling the country in recent weeks has seen the Offenbeckers’ inbox flooded with “at least a dozen hateful emails,” and even more disapproving comments.
Kjersten Offenbecker told the local paper that she first heard members of the community were murmuring about her Norwegian flag when she was visiting a shop downtown. “I was so happy at first,” she said, recounting when a shop owner mentioned that he had heard people talking about her bed and breakfast. But then she learned that they were saying she was flying a rebel flag. “We were panicked initially because we were like, ‘Oh my Gosh. This town thinks that we’re hanging the Confederate flag,'” she said.
The Norwegian flag, adopted by the Scandinavian country in 1821, shares a similar design and color scheme to the Confederate flag, but their differences are distinct. Like several neighboring nations, Norway utilizes a Nordic cross, which is blue, outlined in white, and laid over red. The Confederate flag featured a St. Andrew’s cross adorned with stars, a design that has roots in Scotland.
Kjersten Offenbecker said she can’t see the resemblance because she grew up with the Norwegian flag. “To me they are two distinct flags,” she maintained. Her husband, Greg Offenbecker, was more blunt and expressed his frustration with people’s ignorance. “It bugs me as far as the stupidity of people,” he said. “Even if the flag is blowing in the wind or laying limp, there are no stars on it. They look nothing alike.”
After members of the community accused the Offenbeckers of promoting racism, they decided to remove both the Norwegian and the American flag that flew beside it at their bed and breakfast. “We love being members of the St. Johns community and are heartbroken to have had to make this decision,” they wrote in a Facebook post. “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.”
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