A better flag for Mississippi.Dec 7, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 13 • By BENJAMIN MORRIS
The lowering of the state flag from the campus of the University of Mississippi in October is another salvo in the war over that emblem’s future. Voting 41-1 in the faculty senate, university officers cited many of the arguments—the divisiveness of the symbol, a sea change in public opinion, and a move towards inclusivity—that have characterized the debate over the Confederate battle flag and its offspring since the mass shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17.
It is remarkable just how swiftly those killings caused a shift in the political consciousness of the South. South Carolina and Mississippi—the first and second states to secede from the Union—were the last two states to display the iconography of the Confederate battle flag and had famously resisted calls for removal for decades. But just 23 days after the shootings, South Carolina lowered the battle flag displayed on statehouse grounds; in the months following, Mississippians have had increasingly to grapple with the same demand.
Unsurprisingly, in a state that holds its traditions close to its heart, concerns such a decision would impugn our heritage and “erase history” quickly arose in newspapers, on social media, and at dinner tables around Mississippi. No matter that the current state flag, which includes the battle flag’s saltire, never flew during the Confederacy (it was raised decades later, in 1894): If ever the emblem had a lifespan, some observers argue, it is never more apparent than now. Yet this is not the first time the debate has arisen. As Bradley Bond detailed in his Mississippi: A Documentary History, Mississippians voted overwhelmingly in a 2001 referendum to keep the current flag, a vote that until October, Governor Phil Bryant had insisted stood. Now Bryant—reelected by a significant margin on November 3—has softened his position, suggesting the issue could return to the ballot next year.
Times have changed, critics say, and Mississippi has changed; back in 2001, while Dylann Roof was in second grade, there were no racially motivated murders galvanizing the flag debate—only a commission led by top state officials, hardly the stuff to quicken the pulse of the electorate. Bryant, in fact, faces dissent from within his own conservative ranks, as a growing number of Mississippi’s representatives both in Jackson and in Washington urge revisiting the symbol in the wake of the tragedy. And it is undeniable that in recent years the state has become far more open about confronting the injustices in its history: Not only have civil rights-era murderers such as Byron De La Beckwith and Edgar Ray Killen been tried and convicted, but a major new civil rights museum is due to open in Jackson in 2017. Rather than denying the past, today’s Mississippians are increasingly willing to look it square in the eye.
But as old habits die hard, so do old hurts. Among adult whites, it only takes going back three or four generations to reach ancestors who fought for the Confederacy, ancestors who passed on their fierce love of state to their children and grandchildren. On the flip side of the coin, to reach veterans of the civil rights struggle who grew up under Jim Crow, it only takes a phone call. All Mississippians—white and black, urban and rural, liberal and conservative—feel the weight of history keenly. We in the deepest part of the South wonder sometimes how folks elsewhere consider it so easy to “let it all go.”
Another reason this debate has persisted, however, is that, six months after the events that reignited it, no one has yet offered any serious alternatives to the rebel flag, were it finally to come down. It is one thing to dismantle a symbol—which is not the same thing as obliterating it—but we have to replace it with another. The lesson is not lost to history: Knowing the symbol of apartheid could not stand in a young democracy, the architects of regime change in another racially torn society, South Africa, ultimately produced the flag of the “rainbow nation” to symbolize their new, common project. And it is here that, ironically, Mississippi’s own history might offer a way forward, with the flag used right before the current one.
The special election to replace the late Alan Nunnelee.12:15 PM, Apr 8, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
There are no guarantees in politics, but Joe Nosef feels pretty confident in his prediction regarding the May 12 special election for Mississi
10:55 AM, Oct 13, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Half of this college football regular season (7 of 14 weeks) is now in the books, and neither of the two standout teams to date has won a conference championship, let alone a national championship, in the past half-century. Each played in a bowl game in Tennessee last year (the Music City Bowl and Liberty Bowl, respectively), far away from the bright lights of Pasadena, New Orleans, or Dallas. What’s more, the two are separated from each other by only 100 miles geographically and by only .001 in this week’s Anderson & Hester Rankings. Despite their modest pedigrees and expectations, however, few college football fans would deny that #1 Mississippi (6-0, with wins over #7 Alabama and #17 Texas A&M) and #2 Mississippi State (6-0, with wins over #6 Auburn and #17 Texas A&M) have accomplished more so far this season than any other teams in the country.
9:27 AM, Oct 7, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
After finishing the season ranked #29 last year, the Arizona Wildcats — hot off their upset win at Oregon — have claimed the top spot in the inaugural 2014 Anderson & Hester Rankings. The second and fourth spots are held by two schools from Mississippi — #2 Mississippi and #4 Mississippi State — that went a combined 15-11 last year. Sandwiched in between are the Auburn Tigers, who came within 14 seconds of winning last season’s national championship. TCU, which went 4-8 last year, rounds out the top-5.
12:00 AM, Jul 24, 2014 • By FRED BARNES
Republicans have distinct advantages in Senate races this year, including President Obama’s low job ratings, the number of vulnerable Democrats, and an unhappy national mood. But there’s another advantage: the generally high quality of their candidates. This wasn’t the case in 2010 and 2012, when Republicans blew chances to capture the Senate.
11:20 PM, Jun 24, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi edged out challenger Chris McDaniel in the Republican primary runoff Tuesday, ending a hard-fought, often bitter campaign for the party's nomination for the Senate. Cochran won the runoff by just around 4000 votes, and is a favorite to win the general election.
2:23 PM, Jun 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A new ad set to be released later today alleges that Mississippi senator Thad Cochran is in part responsible for the release of 5 Taliban commanders from Gitmo. The ad, titled "Cochran Supported the Release of 5 Terrorists," is being released by the Campaign for American Values, a super PAC run by Gary Bauer.
12:09 PM, Jun 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
American Crossroads will be staying out of the Republican primary race for U.S. Senate in Mississippi and will not be spending money on the runoff between incumbent Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel. The Republican-affiliated super PAC, who once employed former Mississippi governor and Cochran supporter Haley Barbour, will not spend resources on behalf of either candidate.
McDaniel appears to have won slightly more votes against Cochran in Tuesday's primary, though he did not win at least 50 percent of the vote and both will face off for the GOP nomination on June 24.
5:18 PM, Oct 21, 2013 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Longtime Mississippi senator Thad Cochran, who will be 76 at the end of this year, hasn't said whether he'll run for a seventh term in 2014. But late last week another Republican entered the primary race for Senate, and he's challenging Cochran from the right.
7:21 AM, Mar 14, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
With 45 of 45 precincts reporting, Mitt Romney has won the Republican caucuses in Hawaii. Romney received 45 percent of the vote, Rick Santorum 25 percent, Ron Paul 18 percent, and Newt Gingrich 11 percent.
1:01 AM, Mar 14, 2012 • By JAY COST
Rick Santorum won two surprise victories last night in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, and he did so by poaching voters from Newt Gingrich’s coalition. To appreciate this, let’s take a look at some data.
First, the topline numbers in the four Deep Southern states that have voted so far.
12:40 AM, Mar 14, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
“Senator Santorum is at the desperate end of his campaign,” Mitt Romney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday. Oops. For weeks, Team Romney and many of its allies have been eager—one might even say desperate—to end this campaign. The Republican primary electorate has been resisting this, and the voters in Alabama and Mississippi engaged in massive resistance yesterday, giving Romney less than a third of their votes.