Winds of change blowing hot air in state

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 22, 2000

So, school children, actually high school students, are gettinga chance to have input into the state flag debate.

In a way, this somehow seems appropriate. The uproar over asimple piece of cloth has at times seemed sophomoric, and some ofthe debate participants deserve the old school punishment ofstanding in a corner.

The current legal wranglings over Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck’s refusal toallow conference reports to be read in the closing days of the 2000legislative session comes to mind.

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To refresh memories, some black lawmakers were upset that theircolleagues hadn’t done anything to change the flag and tried to usethe bill-reading stall tactic as a means of protesting thatinaction. Tuck said the reports did not have to be read aloud, andlegislation was pushed through.

Now everyone’s in court. What will this accomplish? Not much, Ithink.

Let’s just have the sides go stand in separate corners of theCapitol until they can agree to play nice. Ain’t gonna happen, butit’s a thought.

Regarding a statewide vote on the flag, that sounds like a goodidea and would certainly give adults a chance to have their say inthe debate.

The problem there, though, is I don’t hear a lot of black peoplepushing for a vote.

Furthermore, if there ever were a vote, the flag issue probablyis not enough to stir voters from their election apathy. Therefore,a small percentage of a motivated white majority would vote to keepthe current flag, the black minority would still be upset, andyears of legal and other debate would likely follow.

In other words, the state would be right back where it isnow.

As far as finding an answer to the flag debate in the minds ofstudents, I find amusing the thought of former Gov. William Winterand his commission sitting around judging what is essentially aposter or essay contest.

“This one looks good,” one member would say.

“But I don’t like the colors,” another would respond.

“We need to find something where there are no losers,” Winterwould inject into the discussion.

Sorry, but that ain’t gonna happen either. Because whatever theflag commission, but ultimately the state legislature, decides,someone’s not going to be happy and will consider themselves aloser.

By the way, what — if any — is the prize for thedebate-solving essay or flag design? A $50 gift certificate to abig discount store? A trip to the Capitol to have your picturetaken with the governor and lawmakers?

Personally, I don’t have a problem with the state flag the wayit is. Then again, I don’t give the flag a whole lot of thoughtanyway.

But since the winds of change are blowing, and a new flag designseems likely, I do have a suggestion.

The flag commission is also charged with addressing the state’scoat of arms. Rep. Mike Chaney, of Vicksburg, is urging quickaction on the coat of arms since there seems to be no controversyabout it.

If there’s no controversy, it sounds like grounds for acompromise. The coat has no Confederate battle symbol or magnolia,which some have suggested for a flag even though the flower bringsup memories of plantations and slavery to some people.

Let’s take the coat of arms, leave it unchanged and slap it on aplain blue field as the new flag. I happen to like the color blueand think an eagle clutching arrows and olive branches might lookgood as a flag.

Do I win? Do I get the gift certificate? I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. Winter.

Write to Matt Coleman at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602.