JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -
In Mississippi, the last state to display the Confederate battle emblem on its flag, some lawmakers want the divisive symbol removed, others want to punish public institutions that refuse to fly the banner and a state House leader suggests having two separate but equal flags: one with the rebel cross and one without.
Old South symbols have come under widespread scrutiny since last June....Mississippi lawmakers remain deeply divided over their state's banner.
Several say it's is an offensive reminder of slavery and segregation. They propose replacing it with stars or a magnolia, the state's official tree and flower.
Others say Mississippi's 122-year-old flag represents history and heritage, and they propose stripping state funding from universities or local governments that refuse to fly it.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant says withholding state money is a bad idea. But he says voters, not legislators, should decide on the flag.
Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden, the House's second ranking leader, proposes having two state flags with equal status, so people could fly whichever one they want - the current flag or an historical flag with a magnolia tree in the center.
The Charleston shootings prompted South Carolina legislators and Gov. Nikki Haley to remove a Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse lawn. Even before they acted, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn became the first prominent Republican in his GOP-dominated state to say Mississippi should consider changing its flag.
Since then, however, Gunn has mostly been silent on the issue.
For any flag proposals to survive this year, they must advance quickly. If bills aren't brought up for a committee vote by Tuesday, they die.
Meanwhile, rival groups are gathering signatures on petitions - one that would enshrine the current design in the state Constitution, and another that would remove any trace of Confederate symbolism from the banner.
Neither measure could be on the ballot until 2018.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the flag, while widely used, had not been officially recognized by state law since code books were updated in 1906. In the fall of 2000, a flag commission held several hearings that devolved into shouting matches.
Legislators put the matter to a statewide vote in April 2001. By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, voters chose the old flag over an alternative that would have displayed circles of stars representing Mississippi as the 20th state.
Since the Charleston massacre, some Mississippi cities, counties and universities have stopped flying the state flag.
Republican state Rep. William Shirley of Quitman said that became a hot topic of conversation at his catfish restaurant when the University of Mississippi stopped flying the flag. The consensus, he said, was that any school that takes state money should fly the flag. Shirley is now sponsoring legislation to pull state money from universities, community colleges or local governments that don't fly the banner.
"Whatever our flag is, I think public institutions or people that get government dollars need to fly whatever that is," said Shirley, who supports keeping the Confederate emblem.
Asked about efforts to change the flag, Shirley said: "Where do we stop? What's next?"
Several African-American lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Hillman Frazier of Jackson, propose replacing the current flag with the historical magnolia flag - the design Snowden proposes as a second flag.
Gov. Bryant told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he still believes if the flag must be reconsidered, the current design and an alternate should be put on the ballot this November.
"Let the people make this decision. That's my position," Bryant said.
The governor said he opposes pulling state money from schools, universities or other public entities that shun the flag. That would only hurt young people who are trying to get their education, the governor said.
"I'd rather not punish them for something that has a simple solution," Bryant said. "And that solution should be, put it on the ballot and let the people decide."
Frazier, who served on the flag commission in 2000, said another flag vote would divide Mississippi. He said legislative leaders should adopt a new flag and Bryant should sign it into law: "They ought to take a page out of Gov. Haley's book in South Carolina."
Ted Cruz' robo-caller is busy today. The latest robocall recording an apparently desperate play to turn out disgruntled southerners by attacking Donald Trump for Governor Nikki Haley's removal of the Confederate Flag back in June.
I'm going to guess that Ted reads the polls every morning so he's gotta know that Trump was endorsed earlier this week by pro-Confederate newspaper The Conservative Action Report has endorsed Trump.The Conservative Action Report is on record as "proudly defends the Confederate South and the Confederate flag."
While South Carolina's anti-Confederate Governor has endorsed Marco Rubio, the State's Lieutenant Governor, who appears to be at the very least a "Fair-weather" supporter of the flag, has endorsed Trump.
And according to advanced polling data Trump's support in South Carolina is built on a base of voters among whom "....70% think the Confederate flag should still be flying over the State Capital, to only 20% who agree with it being taken down."
"In fact 38% of Trump voters say they wish the South had won the Civil War to only 24% glad the North won and 38% who aren't sure."
Overall just 36% of Republican primary voters in the state are glad the North emerged victorious to 30% for the South, but Trump's the only one whose supporters actually wish the South had won.
36% of Republicans in South Carolina are glad the North won, slightly more than wish the South won, with nearly a third of the Republicans not sure. Cruz backers are evenly divided on the question. But less than a quarter of Trump's supporters, supporting the man that Cruz would have you believe is the embodiment of New York values, are glad the Yankees prevailed.
70% percent of Republicans in South Carolina think the Confederate flag should still be flying over the state capitol, while just 20 percent agree with the decision to take it down. So Nikki Halley's popularity is nowhere near as high as the national media is reporting it to be. The removal of the Confederate flag was the reason given by over 2/3 of Trump supporters at a recent rally for why they no longer support their Governor. The other third cited concern that Haley joined the masses of politicians in Washington pushing for stricter gun control laws.
In the morning the polls will open in South Carolina and we will find out exactly how much Confederate support Mr. Trump has earned. At the very least Confederates are smart enough to see through Ted Cruz' using our flag (which by the way he does not support) in what may end up being the sleeziest campaign in modern history.
EFFORT TO REMOVE STATUE OF GENERAL MOUTON IN LOUISIANA
Many of you are aware of the effort in New Orleans by the Mayor to remove statues of Lee, Davis and Beauregard. Well, just about 150 miles west, in the City of Lafayette, Louisiana, there is a small movement that has jumped on the Dixiephobia bandwagon and wants to remove the statue of Brig. Gen. J.J. Alfred A. Mouton from its prominent location downtown in front of the old city hall. The movement, known as Why Alfred? this is their mission statement:
"Jean-Jacques Alfred Mouton was a Confederate general, his father was the first Louisiana born governor of Louisiana and his grandfather is credited with the founding of Vermilionville (current day Lafayette). Alfred, however, did very little (if anything) for Lafayette. We are a group of individuals dedicated to educating the public on the history of Alfred Mouton, and posing the question of whether his statue should have the place of prominence downtown. We are suggesting that his statue would be more appropriate at his family home, Mouton House, a block away from it's current location."
The group claims that Mouton's pre-war activities as leader of a vigilante committee overshadow any of his Confederate Service. For those who do not know, Mouton gave his life on the battlefield at Mansfield, Louisiana, on April 8, 1864. So, the group wants to know why? That is why!
There is now a counter effort to the Why Alfred? group. It is called Why Not Alfred? The WNA? group is working diligently to put a stop to this absurd effort. The local chapter of the UDC, aptly named the Alfred Mouton Chapter, has pulled out a 1980 court injunction which protects the statue from movement. It has been shared with the city council, the press and by now the Why Alfred? folks are aware of it, too. As you know, activists never let a piece of paper get in their way.
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