How about having two state flags? The idea of a democratic republic is that the people elect wise representatives to study issues and make sound decisions. It is distinct from a pure democracy in which the mass of people vote in referendums. Mississippi does have a few referendums every year, but by far most laws are passed by the legislature through its representatives. A key element of a good representative democracy is statesmanship — when representatives, having carefully studied an issue, make a decision for the good of the state even though it may be adverse to the current common public opinion. We all have experienced a situation in which further knowledge, research and reflection have changed our opinions on an issue.
Statesmanship comes into play concerning the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Mississippi state flag. The battle flag, a St. Andrews cross with stars, has unfortunately become a symbol of racism, and it offends millions in both Mississippi and throughout our nation. It gives Mississippi a black eye and hurts recruitment of national industry to our state. Two-thirds of Mississippians voted down its change 19 years ago, but a Chism Strategies poll indicates 53% of voters under the age of 65 now support a change.
If another referendum is held today, it would be much closer than 19 years ago, but such a mass referendum would whip up the same intense emotions that held sway back then. This is even more true with the recent Black Lives Matter protests that have swept the country and the world. We don’t need to go there.
What we do need is the statesmanship of cooler, reflective heads. We need our elected representatives to make this happen in the calmer setting of a legislative session. We need to get this done once and for all. It’s stunting our growth and making us an embarrassment to the rest of the world.
If changing the flag is simply politically impossible, how about having two flags?
Our current flag and the very popular new flag designed by Jackson native Laurin Stennis, the granddaughter of the former U.S. senator from Mississippi, John Stennis. Her flag features 19 blue stars in a circle around a 20th star, an homage to Mississippi being the 20th state to join the United States in 1817. With two flags, we can have our cake and eat it too. It is a reasonable compromise.
Our universities, which have refused to fly the state flag, can now fly the Stennis flag. Those people and entities that wish to fly the old flag can do so as well. Hopefully, having two flags would at least pave the way for some progress.
— The Northside Sun