A Michigan bed and breakfast has removed their Norwegian flag after several complaints from guests and city residents revealed that they mistook it for the Confederate flag.
The Nordic Pineapple in St. Johns received "at least a dozen hateful emails," said Greg and Kjersten Offenecker, who said they've removed both the Norwegian flag and the American flag outside their Civil War-era home.
The couple told the Lansing State Journal that they never saw the flag as anything more than the Norwegian flag.
"I don’t see it because I grew up with the Norwegian flag," said Kjersten Offenbecker. "To me they are two distinct flags."
The 9,000-square foot home was purchased by the couple two years ago. The flag was put up to honour Kjersten's roots, as her grandfather was born in Norway. The owner of a local shop informed the couple shortly after that someone believed they were flying the Confederate flag.
"We were panicked initially because we were like, 'Oh my gosh. This town thinks that we’re hanging the Confederate flag,'" Kjersten said.
Kjersten's husband, Greg Offenbecker, says he's frustrated with the stupidity of some people, saying that the flags don't even look that similar.
"Even if the flag is blowing in the wind or laying limp, there are no stars on it. They look nothing alike."
The couple are the latest victims of a culture in a moral panic, as racism is perceived to be in every aspect of society.
"I am very proud of my Norwegian heritage and will fly it on special occasions like Norwegian Independence Day and maybe I will find a less conspicuous place to fly it but, for now we feel that it is the best decision to take it down," the couple said in a statement posted to Facebook.
"I urge people to slow down and see the world through less jaded glasses," they wrote. "When we think of the worst before we have all the facts, we lose sight of all of good that out there that we should find."
"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."
The couple are also the proud parents of two adopted black children.
Despite the ongoing complaints about the prevalence of Confederate symbols in American life, the flag is so far removed from the public perception that those who complained about it didn't even know what it looked like.