If we must consider changing the flag, put it to a vote

Published 7:00 am Friday, August 18, 2017

In the wake of the events in Virginia last weekend, the Magnolia state is being asked yet again to change its flag.

A vote was held on that same proposal 16 years ago, and was voted down with 456,113 voters choosing to keep the flag and 246,220 electing to change it. More voters participated in that referendum than voted in the 1999 governor’s election, according to the Jackson Free Press.  That article states the reason the vote failed was due to the state being predominately white.

This time, some of our state’s lawmakers are suggesting to skip the voting process, and just change the flag, according to Associated Press coverage.

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But our state’s governor and lieutenant governor have a different perspective.

“Hatred resides in a person’s heart, and I doubt the presence of  an altered flag makes someone more hateful than they would have been,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves told the AP this week. “Mississippians voted to keep the state flag in 2001. If voters want to revisit the issue, they can, but a Legislature or governor should not unilaterally override the vote of the people.”

Rep. David Baria has a different view.

“My proposal is that the Legislature just man up and do it,” Baria said in the AP story. “I think that the tide is changing.”

What our state’s residents need to decide is if it is time to change our flag to remove the symbol. Regardless how you view the state flag, we need to take into consideration that white supremacist groups have adopted the battle flag contained in our state’s banner as a symbol for their separatist messages, and that draws a negative light on our state.

But, ultimately, if the flag is to be changed, it should not be done at the behest of the government, it should be done by a vote from the people.