Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mississippi State Flag

Let's not miss the point here. It's not a matter of perceptions of the state or whether businesses locate here or anything but a matter of right and wrong and in this case it's just wrong to keep a symbol that over one third of the state finds profoundly and personally offensive.

The argument that the confederate battle flag represents southern white culture is specious. The confederacy was a short and extremely painful chapter in the history of white southerners and for black southerners it's a reminder that some men gave their lives and their fortunes to keep them enslaved.

Waving the confederate battle flag says "We lost the war but we were right to fight it." That's just bullshit. Mississippi fought on the wrong side of the civil war and we paid a profoundly deep price for it. The confederate battle flag is not a symbol of pride, it is a warning to any man who might put himself above another and the dire consequences that can come of it.

2 comments:

Tom Head said...

Amen.

The only good argument I've ever heard made for the Confederate flag--and I don't personally find it convincing, but I respect it more than most others--is that it confronts Mississippi's past. It owns up to it. It puts our state's biggest historical mistake--slavery and the war our ancestors fought over slavery--front and center.

But it needs to go, precisely because most folks who support it see it as a symbol of pride. That removes any value it might have as a device for atonement and reconciliation.

The problem with the last flag vote was that the proposed alternative flag sucked. It was completely generic; it didn't look like Mississippi. What we need, this time around, is a distinctive design. Something meaningful. I think that if we had a better alternative design, the Confederate flag would have been rejected at the last referendum.

I'm also kind of angry at the legislature for holding a referendum on the flag at all when they could have solved this problem legislatively. The legislature didn't hold a referendum to select the flag; they didn't need to hold one to get rid of it, either. They should have had the guts to change the flag, then and there, but by putting it up for a referendum they created the sense that the voters badly wanted to keep the flag, which meant that the legislature will not be able to get rid of it by anything but a referendum for decades to come.

The right thing to do was to get rid of the Confederate flag during the first year of Musgrove's first term. I place blame squarely on the legislature for failing to do that.

A Boyd said...

A lot of people were put off by the alternative flag proposals. I never understood why they didn't suggest going back to the pine tree flag Mississippi had before the Civil War.

It was a huge cop-out for the legislature to put this off to a referendum.