There was debate in our household as to who should have the responsibility for deciding whether or not to change the state flag.
For consideration here is my thought. If an issue creates as much strife as the flag controversy has in our state, we should consider change. I agree that the flag is a part of history, but so was Hitler and the Nazi regime. The Germans did away with all of that, destroying the swastika symbol when World War II ended.
I actually have one on my office wall. My dad captured it during World War II and it has a meaning to me because of his involvement in removing the Nazi threat. When I was in Washington D.C. I ran into a Jewish classmate who expressed surprise when I told him I had a swastika flag on my wall. I told him it was in respect for my father. He said it had no place on my wall. Maybe he was right. Maybe it is time to take it down.
It’s the same way with the state flag bearing the Confederate emblem.
Back to the issue at hand. My wife Nancy feels that her right was taken away when she was not allowed to vote on changing the flag. I told her it was not her right, but maybe I’m wrong because she voted to keep it, as I did, around the year 2000 when the public was allowed to vote on it. We did so because we felt that it represented where we had come from as well as the past. Incidentally, prior to the vote in 2000 it was the legislature’s responsibility to make decisions about the flag.
We do not, however, support any of the tenets of slavery. So if some of our citizens feel that pride in having been a slave state is the true issue, we should take the old flag down and find something that unifies all of us.
I regret the fact that all the Confederate and other statues are being destroyed. We should allow them to be taken down and placed in a proper environment to show their historical context rather than destroying them. Some people are acting as if they are a conquering nation who can do as they please, but all that does is incite anger in other people.
Nancy really doesn’t care about the flag itself, but she cares about the process of removing it. I think if a lot of people were surveyed you would find the same result.
I do know that our state delegation--Representatives Noah Sanford and Price Wallace and Senator Chris Caughman-- voted against the Legislature being allowed to suspend the rules and allow themselves to vote on the issue. I think from knowing these guys that their decision was based on wanting to give the people the right to make the decision themselves.
I am not sure that a vote to change the flag would have been passed, though, because some people feel that this issue is being pushed down their collective throats. I am sorry it is this way in our state, but I think the majority of citizens would now support the removal of the flag if they weren’t being told they “have to remove it or else.”
There are a lot of “or elses” going on now. The Southeastern Conference will not allow the state to host any playoffs as long as we keep our flag. I personally think that is ridiculous since the universities have already removed the state flag from their campuses.
But the current flag even creates problems for economic development. Why would you make the economy any worse to cling to the past?
Some government leaders made themselves look good in the debate, like Governor Reeves, who was able to get the flag changed without taking a hit politically as some others have. Lt. Gov. Hosemann has paid the cost, but that is what needed to be done for the state to move ahead.