Join 3,377 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Mississippi Reaps What it Sews?
April 18, 2001 2:45 AM   Subscribe

Mississippi Reaps What it Sews? Mississippi votes overwhelmingly to keep the Confederate flag as part of the state flag design. Is this democracy in action? This type of issue is usually decided by a state legislature. I understand the idea of heritage but surely there are ways to preserve it without having a banner on every corner widely seen as a symbol of slavery and racism. Even if you don't view the Southern cross as representing this, why hurt the people who do? The Nazi's built their power on the nationalistic idea of German "pride and heritage", but you don't see swastika flags flying today over Berlin. Does anyone think there should be an economic boycott of the State, like the one that was effective in getting North Carolina to remove the confederate symbol from its capital building? (Public buildings here in Texas now display the official Confederate State's flag when flying our "six flags" - not the Southern cross which was actually a battle flag.)
posted by sixdifferentways (41 comments total)

 
I'm sure they'll grow out of it.
posted by zeteo at 2:59 AM on April 18, 2001


Darlin', that was SOUTH Carolina that changed their flag-as a native North Carolinian I don't recall ever having the confederate rag on our flag......as to the subject at hand-seems to me the Confederate rag is a symbol of rebellion-after all we did LOSE the Civil War, no?
posted by bunnyfire at 3:08 AM on April 18, 2001


I think it's really interesting the way the state governments can keep their black population so distracted and focused on a strictly symbolic "problem" such as flag patterns instead of economic disparities or poor education standards. It's really a great trick. Here, focus on something not important at all while we, your state leadership, continue to ignore REAL problems...
posted by Spanktacular at 3:11 AM on April 18, 2001


It is about "pride and heritage". I think you meant this as a case in point. If that's the case, I agree with your simile.
posted by crasspastor at 3:13 AM on April 18, 2001



I think it's really interesting the way the state governments can keep their black population so distracted and focused on a strictly symbolic "problem" such as flag patterns instead of economic disparities or poor education standards.


Why is it that domestic pick-up truck driving motorists are the only one's who seem to have the idea that there is no problem with the confederate flag, and so proudly display it? A study must be done to find out what correlation there is for people who buy gas guzzling, heavy transportation, the "red" in all the election 2000 maps, and the confederate stripes. I think we might find out the symptoms of why somoeone would kill Rober Byrd. Images are very important.
posted by crasspastor at 3:25 AM on April 18, 2001


My apologies, Ma'am, for confusing North Carolina with your Southern neighbor.
I have a friend from North Carolina who once corrected me when I referred to Texas as "in the South." She said Texas is "in the West." heh. Actually, I think the State's so big it's half-and-half. Dallas and Houston are very Southern cities, while Fort Worth, San Antonio and El Paso are quite Western.
posted by centrs at 3:27 AM on April 18, 2001


Um, sorry the last comment was from me. I didn't notice my girlfriend was logged on in the other browser. This technology stuff gets corn-fusin' I tell ya.
posted by sixdifferentways at 3:31 AM on April 18, 2001


Robert Byrd. Ahem. . .

How many rascists think that's a Freudian Slip? Although I know there are no racists are here.
posted by crasspastor at 3:41 AM on April 18, 2001


rascists. . .and when I write racist I'm thinking fascist. . .the S/C thing. Another Freudian Slip! Jeez.
posted by crasspastor at 3:44 AM on April 18, 2001


In the eighties, I remember that it seemed like nearly every vehicle that I saw had a confederate flag on it somewhere. Usually mud flaps or a decal in the back window or a sticker on the back of their motorcycle or something of that nature. But I never see them anymore, at least in northwest Arkansas. Maybe they went out with The Dukes of Hazzard.

I can understand those who feel that their state flag should not be changed, simply because people are used to it. It is not symbolic of hatred to them because they were not alive when it was created. It is symbolic of their state, a piece of history that they do not want to see erased. But it should probably be changed if for no other reason than to cut the last ties that connect the south with slavery.

If people want to keep the notion that the south is somehow a country within a country, perhaps some southern organization can hold a contest to design a new flag for the south. It would be something that truly has no connection with the civil war or slavery, something that could become a symbol of the south without anything negative. Then people can stick that on their cars and mouth off about the north.
posted by bargle at 4:51 AM on April 18, 2001


I'll try to stay lucid and logical, though the bile is quicky rising to intolerable levels in my throat.
That Andy Panda technique only goes so far...Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, one.....
I have boycotted Mississippi ever since reading Black Like Me as a youngster. I would move my anglo ass down there to "educate" yall flag flyin , but I'm too busy choking off the many racist cornholers hare in Washington state.
posted by roboto at 4:55 AM on April 18, 2001


aRRGH too pissed to spell and too civil to fill in the blanks... Please bear with me friends
posted by roboto at 5:01 AM on April 18, 2001


This is all about STATES RIGHTS, dammit!

(the link was originally posted by Mocata)
posted by lagado at 5:11 AM on April 18, 2001


I call bull dookie!! I thought I might be called for trolling, but what the fook!?! Lagado - why would you post this!?
The United States, said Stephens, had been founded in 1776 on the false idea that all men are created equal. The Confederacy, by contrast, "is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition...
Someone please intervene before we start warring.
posted by roboto at 5:35 AM on April 18, 2001


I have a friend from North Carolina who once corrected me when I referred to Texas as "in the South."

You might remind your friend that Texas was one of the 13 conferderate states.....

For more information about the right way to change your state's flag to include all citizens, check this out.
posted by darren at 5:39 AM on April 18, 2001


symbols are for the simple minded, those who want to keep them and those concerned enought to want to change them.
posted by Mick at 6:52 AM on April 18, 2001


Roboto, just make sure you read the article, and not just one quote from the confederate vice president before you start "warring." You might look dumb.
posted by Doug at 7:51 AM on April 18, 2001


If you look at the states ranked in order of access to education, healthcare and other fairly telling statistics, it'd be easy to think that the Civil War was still being fought. What puzzles me is the extent to which states such as Mississippi seem content to party like it's 1899.
posted by holgate at 9:14 AM on April 18, 2001


Crasspastor, I'd like to thank you for showing us all that it actually *is* ok to be racial and prejudicial...as long as your making gross generalizations and insulting statements about white southerners, that is.

I hope you've had fun being a complete and total hypocrite.
posted by Spanktacular at 9:27 AM on April 18, 2001


Bargle, that is the most convoluted and spineless answer I think I've heard of being offered over this "issue". It's the kind of thing people do with second graders to settle disputes such as the naming of the class bunny rabbit.
posted by Spanktacular at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2001


[sixdifferentways] Is this democracy in action?

I would say that a public vote on a question of government policy is a very good definition of democracy.

As for the Carolina flag issue, I don't think South Carolina changed their state flag. Rather they stopped flying the Confederate flag over their statehouse. Now, Georgia did change their flag. It still incorporates the Confederate design, but in a much smaller way.

[holgate] If you look at the states ranked in order of access to education, healthcare and other fairly telling statistics, it'd be easy to think that the Civil War was still being fought.

It all has to do with money. The southern states are in general the poorest, not only in personal income, but in job opportunities and economic development. The lack of money contributes to the lack of those other services (which are mainly provided by state governments).

Just to be cynical for a moment here: I'm kind of surprised I haven't seen a Southern Pride group somewhere propose that the South is still poor because of the destruction of the Civil War, the loss of slavery, and the half-assed Reconstruction, and demand that the nation pay reparations to all Southerners to help them recoup from their economic hardship.

What puzzles me is the extent to which states such as Mississippi seem content to party like it's 1899.

Not sure I understand what you're saying here. Are you suggesting that the Southern states want to stay poor?
posted by daveadams at 9:39 AM on April 18, 2001


No matter what you think about the flag issue, there's no question it was an example of democracy in action. Democracy means that sometimes you don't get the result you personally want.
posted by aaron at 9:43 AM on April 18, 2001


Just to be cynical for a moment here: I'm kind of surprised I haven't seen a Southern Pride group somewhere propose that the South is still poor because of the destruction of the Civil War, the loss of slavery, and the half-assed Reconstruction, and demand that the nation pay reparations to all Southerners to help them recoup from their economic hardship.


Just to confirm your cynicism for a moment, it's already happened.
posted by truex at 9:55 AM on April 18, 2001


As a snaggly-toothed Brit I find the whole flag thing across there disturbing. Why is the stars + stripes flown so much? And why is it so important as a symbol (all the fuss when someone damages it etc.)?
posted by andrew cooke at 9:57 AM on April 18, 2001


I'm a native of Mississippi, one who found this whole flag thing deeply embarrassing and worrisome. Yes, it's "democracy in action," or rather the referendum was, but the Legislature was elected to handle these sorts of matters. From what I hear, there were thousands of people who voted who had never voted before, more voters in many locales than in the presidential election. In other words, the usually apathetic showed up because this was not only controversial, but controversial in a way you don't have to read about to understand.

Where I think the legislators and business leaders and others (including former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale, who contributed something like half a mil to the pro-new flag campaign) screwed up is in thinking that people would come to think, Well so much of the state elite is for this, business people say it would hurt, etc. One historian and new flag supporter said he would have even favored something like Georgia's hideous new flag. The latter ignored the fact that some people don't believe we don't have to do everything for business, that they don't see any good reaon to sell one's soul down the river, to become all bland and homogenized, just for more big business and tourists. Consequently, the vote was more lopsided than polls taken a month ago.

There has to be a way to present the issue without making it look as if you're trying to ram an elite consensus down people's throats. And I assume they'll find it, if boycotts don't hurt the state first. This, however, didn't have to happen.

Meantime, yes Miss. is still on the bottom of so many categories, but it sits in the middle of all U.S. states regarding tax effort -- that is, the percentage its citizens pay per capita. And please recall that it has the lowest per capita income in the nation. So it's not as if the state hasn't tried, or had leaders who don't care.
posted by raysmj at 10:25 AM on April 18, 2001


Does Jim Barksdale have any legitimate connection to the state of Mississippi? If not (and I have no idea if he does or doesn't), his huge donations sure smack of an attempt to interfere in the democratic decisions of another state. He has every right to do it, but if I were a resident and an outsider was trying that hard to influence debate on a matter causing so much internal strife, I'd be quite angry about it.

And I don't think there's any way to make it not seem elitist unless the elites kept their mouths shut.
posted by aaron at 10:36 AM on April 18, 2001



Why should the elites keep their mouths shut about any issue, Aaron? They're the states leadership. That's why they're elites, get it?

In any case, yes, Jim Barksdale still owns property and I believe a home in Mississippi, and spends much of his time here. He also gave $100 million to the state to start a children's literacy program, which is implemented by University of Mississippi, a state institution, in cooperation with state and local authorities.
posted by raysmj at 10:57 AM on April 18, 2001


Are you suggesting that the Southern states want to stay poor?

I'd suggest that there's a certain amount of political expediency, yes. An impoverished population is generally a mute one, or at least one that can't mobilise to challenge the status quo.

raysmj: is this report from the Obs (liberalism alert) accurate?

And andrew, from my time in the US, the flag's important because it's a symbol beneath which the nation (or the state) can unite. Like the monarchy, but less German.
posted by holgate at 11:00 AM on April 18, 2001


Perhaps they'll reap what they SOW as well...
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 11:03 AM on April 18, 2001


I've resigned myself to the thought that eventually these states will come around.

Maybe its because I've only lived on "the coasts" (Maryland, California, Florida), but the South and "Middle" states just never seem to get it...
posted by owillis at 11:06 AM on April 18, 2001


These discussions of "elitism" confuse me.

Does Jim Barksdale have any legitimate connection to the state of Mississippi?

Well, um, yes. He was born there, in Jackson, same as me.
posted by sj at 11:06 AM on April 18, 2001


Plenty of Mississippians (including a percentage of African Americans that might surprise you) don't give a crap whatsoever about the state flag. raysmj is, I think, absolutely right about the impression of elite consensus being seemingly thrust upon a population that would rather not think about it. However, no matter whether you find the state flag itself important or meaningless, the media's focus on the issue of its perpetuation has an effect. William Winter and Jim Barksdale and company are right: whatever the flag itself means, the flag issue hurts the state, and will continue to as long as a spineless legislature punts the ball. But why is it "elitism" to try to improve things for the state? Elitist as opposed to what? Waiting for a public either too apathetic or to unwilling to touch a somewhat poisonous issue to spontaneously change their minds?
posted by sj at 11:26 AM on April 18, 2001


The elitism that is perceived is the "out of town New York-style Yankees" coming down to tell the "corn pone hicks" what is "right".

While I disagree with the vote, this attitude is very prevalent...
posted by owillis at 11:29 AM on April 18, 2001


Well, um, yes.

Well, um, I didn't know, that's why I asked.

whatever the flag itself means, the flag issue hurts the state.

Many people believe that the threat of economic extortion is not exactly a righteous argument for implementing something. Many believe it's the perfect argument against making the change the extortionists are demanding. They also think that moral questions should not be answered based on which choice is more cost-effective.
posted by aaron at 11:37 AM on April 18, 2001



all i could think of when i saw this news story is the south park episode where chef goes nanners.
posted by brig at 11:40 AM on April 18, 2001


the South and "Middle" states just never seem to get it...

That's funny, I always think the coasts seem to get it wrong. Middle America is just that, the average. I think I would rather raise a family here (riot torn* Cincy) than any other place.

There really wasn't a riot, there was some vandalism and a lot of constructive talk that I think might have already made the city better.
posted by Mick at 11:43 AM on April 18, 2001


"Maybe its because I've only lived on "the coasts" (Maryland, California, Florida), but the South and "Middle" states just never seem to get it..."


The elitism that is perceived is the "out of town New York-style Yankees" coming down to tell the "corn pone hicks" what is "right".


While I disagree with the vote, this attitude is very prevalent...


gee, and i wonder where that attitude comes from...

I happen not to agree with the outcome of the vote in Mississippi, but then again, I don't live there.
posted by jbelshaw at 12:38 PM on April 18, 2001


Yeah, but I'm not in Mississippi, or doing any sort of campaigning, or a member of the media
posted by owillis at 12:42 PM on April 18, 2001


Holgate: I haven't kept up with the voting issue in the Miss. Delta, which is what the article addresses. For those who don't know, the Delta is a 17 county, extremely flat and predominantly black area bordering the Miss. River that is the poorest region in America. Just to let you know how bad it is, if these counties were taken out, Miss. would rank 39th or 40th in almost every social indicator ranking. I worked there as a newpspaer reporter for years, and wrote my master's thesis regarding the federal Empowerment Zone there (an economic/community development thing) , so I even feel like typing kl;akl;reaewqoi;eaoikl when just writing messages like this one.

In any case, I'd heard that community activists and researchers were worried about black voter turnout there for a number of reasons. Mississippi has more black elected officials than any state in the union. This has led to increased expectations. But political power without economic and intellectual power means very little. In this respect, the efforts of people like Barksdale (re literacy) are important to an unfathomable degree.

Anyway, someone asked who the "elites" are, or rather expressed confusion as to what elitism talk meant. Elites are leaders within any political community, from business, education, government and media. And in this case, most of the major state elites were in agreement regarding the flag issue.

Oh, and aaron, totally agreed on the issue regarding economic coersion. Unfortunately, that's reality. Also, the whole "Should people from out of state with no connection to the state contribute to campaigns?" thing was answered in the affirmative by conservative Repubs. in Miss. when they used out-of-state crews and money to try to get certain initiatives on the ballot a few years ago. That was not the case with the flag matter anyway, but . . .
posted by raysmj at 2:04 PM on April 18, 2001


I hope you've had fun being a complete and total hypocrite.

It's funny. As a youngster growing up outside of the traditional cliques, I was what you might call a "punk" back then. But, by god did we hate them skinheads. We hated them because they hated everything, were violent about it, and they scared the hell out of everybody they did and didn't beat up or kill. I don't know if you're going to follow me on this; But when I or anybody professed our hatred for these type people, we were sometimes greeted with they who felt self righteously skeptical about our feelings, "You're no different than they are, when you hate and generalize them. Tu quo qe."

Accusing me of hypocrisy is total horse manure frankly as were the arguments I heard throughout my adolescence. You name one good reason anybody throws the confederate colors on their car, other than the "southern pride" I suggest. And then show me the African American who has like pride in that same southern legacy. And then once we've answered all that, then we can begin dishing out the personal insults Spanky.
posted by crasspastor at 6:41 PM on April 18, 2001


I probably would not have called you a punk.
posted by thirteen at 8:14 AM on April 19, 2001


« Older The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy: An Interactive...  |  "High-profile P.I. Bill Dear b... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments