Birmingham Republican Reclaims Sign as Confederate Flag Spurs Reactions in Ferndale
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 20, 2020)
Ferndale, MI – A Ferndale woman’s Confederate flag has neighbors upset, and the signs on her yard placed with it prompted a political candidate from Birmingham to come and take his sign back.
Chuck Moss, a former State Representative and County Commissioner from Birmingham, is running again for County Commissioner of the 12th District. His sign, and the signs of several other Republican candidates, are on display in a Ferndale woman’s front yard along with the Confederate flag.
Moss was so disgusted at the association of his sign with the flag that he came to Ferndale and told the woman he was taking his sign back. “That’s my sign. I paid for this, and to use it this way is just unacceptable. Disgusting.” he told Oakland County Times. “My ancestors fought for this country, on the Union side.”
He said just as much to the woman on the porch when he stomped up and snatched his sign back. He took a selfie before he left, and posted on Facebook calling the woman a “moron,” and “crazy.”
The flag has raised a lot of attention and outrage among neighbors on social media. Thelma Todak told Oakland County Times that since she put the flag up on Friday she’s had the police out “sometimes 2-3 times a day.”
“I told them, you guys are here so much I feel like I need to go into the doughnut-making business,” she said.
The push back started with people driving by slowly – yelling, gawking, or taking pictures.
Then people began showing up with sidewalk chalk writing phrases in the street like “BLM” and “No Racism.”
“It went from chalk on the street to chalk on the sidewalk. Then last night at 12:30 I’ve got knocking on the door and it’s the cops. They say someone saw someone tear up my signs. I’ve had them smashed. They stole them. They ripped them up and they came up on my porch and they ripped my Trump ‘promises made, promised kept’ sign,” Todak said.
“I woke up this morning, and I have my routine. I come out here and pray. I’m a prayer warrior. And when I came out on the table was a card from one of the officers that said, I found your signs.” She took that as a sign from God that he is on her side.
Sometime in the night, her house and garage were also pelted with paintballs.
“They’re in the street, and that’s fine it’s a public street. They’re on the sidewalk. That’s fine too. But now they’re coming on my property, staling and damaging things. How long before they’re inside,” Todak said.
She questioned why the sidewalk was not off limits. “Interesting enough, if the snow gets on it, it’s my responsibility that I have to keep it clean, but they have a right to mark that sidewalk however they want. But really, when does that become harassment?”
Yet what about the residents who feel intimidated by the sight of this historically controversial symbol? Of ongoing debate across the county is whether the display of the flag would constitute a hate crime because of symbol’s use by hate groups. The fact, from a legal perspective, is that it does not.
Lt. David Spellman of the Ferndale Police told Oakland County Times that “there have been calls for services and police reports filed between the neighbors and the homeowner going back and forth about political views.” He said that the Community Relations liaison has been investigating the reports and talking to the people involved.
No arrests have been made, and the flag continues to fly under First Amendment protection.
Video has made the rounds on social media showing Todak with her garden hose extended into the street and spraying towards a woman. In the video the woman says she got wet. Todak says she was spraying at the ground, cleaning off the chalk. Another video shows her in front of the house yelling back and forth with a disgruntled neighbor.
While neither the police or the city can prevent the Todak from expressing herself with the flag, it does not protect her from others using their free speech to be critical online. The video of the incident with the hose has gone national, dubbing the Ferndale woman as “Confederate Karen.”
Discussions online have mixed perspectives, with some calling for further protests, more Black Lives Matter signs, ongoing chalk art, and other forms of pressure to encourage her to remove the sign. Others support her rights. And others say it’s harmful to continue giving her attention.
In spite of the pain and anger of her neighbors, Todak stands by the “stars and bars” as part of history that she doesn’t want to see wiped out by what she calls “cancel culture.”
“They’re trying to rewrite history, take down all the statues,” she said. “I fly my Confederate Flag to honor the Confederate soldiers that fought between the states. It was their battle flag. It had nothing to do with the KKK or anything, it was just a battle flag for Robert Lee.” She added that flying it is “to honor the soldiers. The Civil War was the bloodiest war. That was horrendous… I fly the Confederate flag because we would not be able to do what we do today if it were not for the people that have given up their lives to fight for this country.”
Todak also said that the Civil War was not about slavery, but about state’s rights. However, the primary issue of the war was in fact about whether human beings had the right to own, brutalize, and use other human beings for their own gain. And the fighting was not with some outside invading force, but people within one nation killing each other in order to prevent the basic freedom of all people. Yet Todak disagrees about the focus on racism. “You can’t take history and view it from the lens of today,” she said.
“The black people I know and talk to understand this. They’re intelligent and have critical thinking and they’re not offended.”
When asked to talk more about those conversations, she referred to various You Tube channels including Jericho Green who boasts such titles as “Trump says f#@ck no to the postal service!” “BLM wants your house!,” “Hockey kisses BLM’s a$$ too”, and “New York City wants to forget 9/11.”
She also gets her viewpoints from the videos of Brandon Tatum, whose work includes “Why I’m not Pro Black Anymore,” “Why Black Men choose White Women over Black Women,” and “What if White People Did This?”
“These are very intellectual black men who will take a current event and break it down,” she said. “They’re about truth and they’re about accuracy, and their integrity, they hold themselves to a very high level of integrity, and if they don’t know something they won’t even put it out until they do their research. That is the new news, the new reporting that is coming in.”
Though she has always voted, and was a Democrat up until the Regan administration when she switched sides, it wasn’t until 2016 that Todak was what she called “red pilled” and decided to be come politically active. She knocks doors throughout SE Michigan and helps recruit members to the GOP.
“Red pilled means learning the truth about everything that’s been orchestrated. Everything that’s happened and why it happened. These are not conspiracy theories,” she said. Among the stories she sited were tales of abortion doctors performing human sacrifice, sex trafficking scandals, politicians claiming to be Republican but agreeing to socialist policies, and the systematic destruction of cities by people she views as “entitled” and “brainwashed by the Democratic party.”
The crux of her perspective is that the problems of the world are caused by a lack of honoring God. “It’s not political, it’s spiritual. This is spiritual warfare and God’s leading the charge,” she said. “He’s bringing justice, not only to the churches but to the government to bringeth back unto God. He’s chosen key people and President Trump is one of them… Is he an angel, no. But is he the right man for the job, oh hell yeah.”
In a city known for its progressive values and it’s propensity for protests and visual demonstrations of love, acceptance, diversity, and equality, the Confederate flag serves not only as a lightning rod for angry reactions, but as a chance for Todak to have discussions about “the truth.”
“I’m just sad because I know what’s going on. But they’re not educated,” she said. “They don’t research. That goes along with education, and it’s just really sad.”
She moved the flag to a new spot on her porch recently, adding a handwritten sign to the center of the porch stating “No racism lives here. ONLY the Poorly educated Lives OUT There. PRAY for Them!!! Go Crack a Book”
Todak, who agreed to speak if we did not show her face, enjoys sitting on the porch with her arms folded, waiting to educate passers by about her beliefs. She smiles when she talks of the antagonization and the viral videos.
“I knew that I was under spiritual attack. You can’t go to mass every day and say 15 decades of the rosary and not piss the devil off. He hates the blessed mother, absolutely despises her, because she’s the one who brought in our Lord to crush the head of him and brought us salvation. He can’t stand her. And so I wasn’t surprised. I knew what was going on. And I can’t help but share my faith and intermingle my faith because its who I am. ..
“When I went on Faceboook I put a blast out and I said ‘I am in the fight of my life. I need prayers.’ And so everybody was just sending prayers and it was heating up, boy, and I said Lord just give me strength. Give me strength to get through it. Because he always told us, if you’re being persecuted in my name, know that I was persecuted first. That’s why I can do it. He did it for me and I’ll do it for him.”
As far as Chuck Moss, he didn’t get all of his signs. During the interview Todak was asked if it was fair to the candidate to place his sign next to a controversial flag without his permission. She talked about how quickly Moss had grabbed the sign, not giving her a chance to plead her case for supporting the flag. In an email later, she told Oakland County Times “I just wanted to say if you would like to pick up Chucks sign when coming through you are more than welcome. Glad to know his reason and pray he will find FACTS on the matter. Still praying.”