Friday, September 9, 2016

Mississippi flag survives lawsuit, but judge explains its symbolism

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 8:08 AM

'REPULSIVE SYMBOL': The Mississippi flag.
  • 'REPULSIVE SYMBOL': The Mississippi flag.
Federal Judge Carlton Reeves, who happens to be black, has dismissed a constitutional challenge of the Mississippi state flag because it includes the Confederate battle flag, an emblem of slavery.

Reeves said, rightly I think, that the plaintiff had claimed emotional distress, but had not mounted a  constitutional challenge. The plaintiff, a black lawyer,  says his family has been threatened as a result of his lawsuit.

"To succeed in constitutional litigation, however, Moore needs to identify that part of the Constitution which guarantees a legal right to be free from anxiety at State displays of historical racism. There is none."

But he nonetheless chose to deal with all the usual suspects who want to say the flag is about history and tradition and all the other Rebel idolatry you hear when, for example, Arkansas legislators vote to preserve the Lee holiday.

Reeves quoted the state's 1861 secession declaration, which said: "'Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world.'"

Then, the judge continued in his own words: "To put it plainly, Mississippi was so devoted to the subjugation of African-Americans that it sought to form a new nation predicated upon white supremacy."

He continued:

The emblem offends more than just African-Americans. Mississippians of all creeds and colors regard it as 'one of the most repulsive symbols of the past.' It is difficult to imagine how a symbol borne of the South's intention to maintain slavery can unite Mississippians in the 21st century.
The decision is a richly footnoted history from Civil War through the many efforts of Lost Cause admirers to preserve it in the Southern memory and practice — de jure or de facto. It's a useful source document for the next, inevitable debate on the question here.

The judge's full opinion.
He observed:

The Confederate battle emblem’s meaning has not changed much in the intervening decades. It should go without saying that the emblem has been used time and time again in the Deep South, especially in Mississippi, to express opposition to racial equality. Persons who have engaged in racial oppression have draped themselves in that banner while carrying out their mission to intimidate or do harm.
The judge took note, too, that many cities and counties and most of the state's universities don't fly the flag, precisely because of the symbolism.

At times there is something noble in standing alone. This is not one of those times. The Confederate battle emblem has no place in shaping a New Mississippi, and is better left retired to history.

For that change to happen through the judiciary, however, the Confederate battle emblem must have caused a cognizable legal injury. In this case no such injury has been articulated. Whether that could be shown in a future case, or whether “the people themselves” will act to change the state flag, remains to be seen.

Tags: , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The assault on Obamacare begins

    Donald Trump Friday night signed an executive order directing government to scale back Obamacare to the extent possible. Though the signing was mostly symbolic, it likely has implications for Arkansas.
    • Jan 21, 2017
  • Two dead in North Little Rock shooting

    two people were fatally wounded about 9 p.m. Friday in a home in the 1400 block of Division Street, North Little Rock.
    • Jan 21, 2017
  • 2nd Amendment meets the 1st in Fayetteville on campus carry

    They've had a forum in Fayetteville today on Rep. Charlie Collins' fervent desire to force more pistol-packing people onto the campus at the University of Arkansas (and every other college in Arkansas.) He got an earful from opponents.
    • Jan 20, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Facing closure, Wilson Elementary families deliver angry message to school leaders

    "Why do you guys not care about your community? You’re tearing it down, not building it up, especially in the black community … It’s just a simple question — do you care?" one mother asked the superintendent. "Ma’am, I do care deeply about this district, and I do believe wholeheartedly we are making a better district every day," Poore replied.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation