Thursday, May 4, 2017

It's Time for the Mississippi State Flag to Go

A Response to Keith Plunkett

Mississippi State Flag
Keith Plunkett


Keith Plunkett is a Mississippi conservative political operative who runs the Mississippi PEP website. He has served as a relentless promoter of State Senator Chris McDaniel, who almost defeated long time Republican U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in 2014 and is mulling a challenge to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker in 2018. The purpose of Mississippi PEP is "to always and everyday provide Traditional and Cultural Conservatives across the state with resources. When studied and applied these resources provide the wisdom to more fully understand, the ability to articulate, and the opportunity to share conservative beliefs with others."

Today he published The Trouble With Not Knowing, Or Caring, About History in response to an announcement by Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus that its members will not attend the Southern Legislative Conference in Biloxi as a protest against the Mississippi State Flag. Keith believes that the problem the Black Caucus has can be remedied by a history lesson which he provides. He concludes:

So, there you have it. A state lawmaker making political headlines for Mississippi and leading a legislative caucus can’t even be bothered to know some very basic history about the state where she is responsible for creating laws. And it’s the flag that is supposedly an embarrassment to the state? 
The world is full of people who pine-on about charting futures, and the importance of moving on, not living in the past, super new government programs, and the like. But history is the only certainty from which we learn. The future is a much easier place to be for those who haven’t studied the lessons of the past, and therefore aren’t prepared to make an impact on the present. 
Rep. Williams-Barnes appears to need a remedial course.
I responded by posting what follows at the comments section:


That's an interesting history lesson, Keith. I join you in being a proud southerner, whose forefathers fought and died in the War, whose heroes are men such as Robert. E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, who resists the efforts to discredit these good men, and who rejects the call to pretend that the War never happened (as in my hometown, "The City of Five Flags" and the opposition to continuing to acknowledge the City was under the Confederate government). After the War one effort to re-incorporate South into the United States was to allow the South to have a certain pride in her heritage and to include men such as Lee in the pantheon American heroes. The War happened and the country was eventually reunited. One of the ways this was promoted was by allowing Southerners not to feel themselves a vanquished people living in a subjugated section of the Country.

All that said, there remains a problem with the Mississippi Flag. The truth is that there were slaves who were held and forced to work against their wills. And, the truth is that, after they were freed, and when Southerners regained control of their state governments, these former slaves were often humiliated and denied their rights as American citizens and forced to form and live in segregated communities, including schools, which in the case of other immigrants were an instrument of assimilation.

Almost 40% of the citizens of Mississippi are African Americans, most of them descendents slaves. They almost universally are offended by the inclusion of the Battle Flag in the Mississippi State Flag. They feel no pride or loyalty when they see Mississippi Flag. The Flag is not something the promotes the unity of Mississippi. It is not that Blacks (and not a few Whites) just "don't understand." They may lack the knowledge of what you and others have written about this history of MS and its Flag. But that is not the problem. The problem is that, when they look at the Flag they see a symbol of slavery, of a war fought to preserve their ancestors' status as slaves, and later of segregation. The reaction is visceral. It cannot be cured by history lessons or by your assurance that we really are not racists. These Black Mississippians are not going to come to a point of "enlightenment" that will result in their seeing that there is "no real problem" with the Flag.

For this reason there are many White Mississippians, some of whom share the visceral reaction Blacks have against the Flag, who also have a problem with the Flag. Other White Mississippians are proud of their heritage and their ancestors, but they are convinced the Flag is not functioning and cannot ever function as the symbol of the state, incorporating all her citizens. The reality is that the Flag is both a symbol of and cause of disunity. If it were a practice to place one's hand over his heart and recite a pledge of state allegiance to Flag and State for which it stands, there are a great number of Mississippians, Black and White, who could not do so. If it were a practice to play a State anthem and to stand as the State Flag is raised, there are a great many Blacks and Whites who could not and would not stand. In other words, the Mississippi Flag no longer functions nor can it function as Flags are supposed to function - to represent the State of Mississippi and her people, to inspire pride and loyalty.

It is past time to adopt a new Flag, a Flag for all of the State and all of her citizens.

5 comments:

  1. Well said Bill.

    I have pictures up of Stonewall, J.E.B. Stuart (to whom I'm related), and Bobby Lee in my house. I am a former member of the SCV, and am proud of the battlefield exploits and still miffed at the war crimes committed against my family (Phil Sheridan and the abomination of Elmira Prison Camp).

    However, you are correct on the need to think about the implications of a symbol, even if it was once a "good" symbol. Hezekiah's destruction of the Mosaic serpent might be a good example for us to follow.

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  2. Ok, let's remove the confederate flag and replace it with ....maybe nothing......but what will be next? Removal of : Street names, historic roadside markers? The closing of confederate museums? And what about The City of Five Flags: Pensacola? Should the confederate flag removed as well, calling it 'The City of Four Flags? What's next? The Demolishion of Fort Pickens?

    Erasing history (really revisionist history) is dangerous. History and values are sorely lacking in the Education of our young. The removal of public signs and symbols with accelerate the void. Already there is an effort to deny that the Holocaust never happened.

    One additional thought: Politicians like Sonya Williams-Barnes will not be satisfied with the flag removal. She and many politicos promote racial discord where ever they can find it, perceived or real.

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  3. Dave, I think the case of the Flag is different. A flag in my view should as much as possible represent the State and all her citizens. The present flag simply cannot do that. It cannot serve as a symbol of pride and focus of loyalty and unity.You are right that there is a strong effort at historical cleansing going on. I detest that. But, it's a simple fact that Black Mississippians will never feel toward a flag the way we expect citizens to feel toward a flag/

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  5. Bill, regarding the flag...ok let's remove it fom the state house. I doubt that many (Black or White) really give it much thought. I would be more open to Williams-Barnes concerns and her Caucus members if they showed as much concern for the social disparages (sp) of minorities with regard to single family households, out of wed births, and the assortment of social ills that accompany this. Also, what about the confederate flag here in Pensacola? Myself... keep!

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