J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “NASCAR”

BATTLEGROUND MISSISSIPPI GETS EVEN NASTIER

The Enemies of Southern Heritage ship in PAID YANKEE activists!
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(From The New York Times)
LOUISVILLE, Miss. – In single strokes after the massacre of nine black churchgoers in Charleston in June, Confederate battle flags were taken from statehouse grounds in South Carolina and Alabama, pulled from shelves at major retailers like Walmart and declared unwelcome, if to limited effect, at Nascar races.
AP CONFEDERATE FLAG NASCAR AUTO RACING S A CAR FILE USA AL
What happened so swiftly elsewhere is not so simple in Mississippi. The Confederate battle flag is not simply flying in one hotly disputed spot at the State Capitol but occupying the upper left corner of the state flag, which has been flying since 1894. And as recently as 2001, Mississippians voted by a nearly two-to-one ratio to keep it. Recent polling suggests the majority have not changed their minds.
“My flag’s been flying for 33 years, and I’m not about to take it down,” said Nancy Jenkins, 58, a postal worker who is white and who flies the Mississippi flag and the United States flag at her house a block south of Louisville City Hall. “It doesn’t stand for hate. It means a lot of people fought and died.”
Over the past few months, there have been scattered outbreaks of municipal defiance by those who find the Confederate flag offensive, as mayors and city councils from the Delta to the Pine Belt have decided to no longer fly the state flag.
But beyond these sporadic gestures, any organized effort was always going to wait until politicians were on the safe side of this year’s election. With the closing of the polls on Tuesday night, what could turn out to be the last battle over the Confederate flag in Mississippi has begun in earnest.
“It’s all about momentum,” said Dane Waters, the head of Tipping Point strategies, a communications and advocacy firm. “If you take a pocket here and pocket there of things happening, I don’t think anything is going to change.”
This week, Mr. Waters, a self-described conservative who has been retained by a group of people he declined to name, will arrive in Mississippi to pick up a difficult task: forming an unlikely and perhaps unmanageable alliance of preachers, business executives, state boosters and civil rights advocates to remove forever the Confederate battle flag from the state flag.
He is working with the Flag for All Mississippians Coalition, which was started by Sharon Brown, an activist in Jackson, who is black. The campaign has already been organizing supporters and held a hundreds-strong rally at the State Capitol. But Mr. Waters spoke of other tools that will be brought to bear outside the public eye, such as pressure on political donors and lobbying in the Legislature.
The coalition that he and others are trying to put together would need to unite groups almost never politically aligned, testing the depth of what Mr. Waters called the state’s “tremendous social, economic and racial divide.”
In the immediate aftermath of Charleston, it seemed that such a coalition might be possible here. Several conservative political leaders called for a change, including the state’s two United States senators and the speaker of the Mississippi House (inspiring critics to print “Keep the Flag, Change the Speaker” yard signs). Down came flags at city buildings in Grenada, Magnolia, Starkville, Clarksdale and Yazoo City. In October, even the University of Mississippi lowered the flag at the circle where segregationists once clashed with federal troops over the admission of James Meredith.
But the move to change the flag, which, in the words of the daughter of the state senator who designed it, was intended to “perpetuate in a legal and lasting way that dear battle flag under which so many of our people had so gloriously fought,” is not widely popular. It takes no time at all in any Mississippi downtown to find that out.
“This is what we stand for – this is our pride,” Trey Jefcoat, a 26-year-old construction worker in Hattiesburg, said on the October day that the nearby University of Southern Mississippi took down the state flag on campus. “We don’t think it’s offensive, and most of the black folks I know don’t think it’s offensive.”
Partisanship in Mississippi has become ever more racially polarized, and there are few topics on which racial division has been more explicit. In the 2001 referendum, according to the book “Mississippi Politics: The Struggle for Power, 1976-2008,” 90 percent of whites voted to keep the flag as it is. Among blacks, 95 percent voted for a new design, which replaced the cross with a circle of white stars.
“Don’t try to force me as a black man who knows his history to honor something that goes against my heritage,” said Robert Brown, a 42-year-old barber in Louisville, a small town in the central Mississippi pines with a population that is about 60 percent black.
Over the summer, Mr. Brown began using his post at Eiland’s Straight Line Barbershop to expound upon the causes of the Civil War, lecturing to the men who had come in for a trim or a shave about slavery, the meaning of the battle flag and the offense of its lingering in the state flag. One evening in September, he went to City Hall to ask that officials follow the example of the other scattered towns and cities and vote on whether to fly the state flag.
He was met, he said, with mannerly talk of pressing budgets and correct protocol, and ultimately told that this was really an issue best left to the Legislature. The state flag still flies.
If a new flag is to be adopted, the simple math of a 60 percent white majority statewide dictates that it will come down to whether enough whites support it, either in the Legislature or at the polls. Feelings about the flag run so deep – as evident from the recent arrest of a man in Tupelo who was accused of firebombing a Walmart for not selling Confederate merchandise – that a widespread change of heart seems hard to fathom.
At a Hardee’s a few blocks north of Louisville City Hall, older men talked over coffee of how “the blacks” tried to get the flag taken down at City Hall and the cemetery – one man drives by daily to make sure they are still flying – and how such crusades would be as doomed across the state as they were here.
The minority who want the flag changed should not be allowed to dictate to the majority who want it kept, Carl Higginbotham, 63, said.
“Funds need to be cut off for that school,” he added of Ole Miss.
With sentiments like these widespread, many advocates of a change in the flag, Democrat and Republican alike, believe their only hope lies in the Legislature. They speak bluntly of the odds against them in a statewide vote and of the kind of international attention Mississippi would attract. But they also acknowledge that legislators and state officials, beyond those who staunchly defend the flag, would probably be quite happy to turn over such an incendiary topic to a referendum.
Derrick Johnson, the president of the state conference of the N.A.A.C.P., said he would actively oppose a referendum, insisting that economic pressure was the only answer. “There’s never been a change in Mississippi when it comes to racial relations without pressure,” he said.
State Representative Scott DeLano, a Republican, also said a legislative solution was the preferred way to bring about a change, but he insisted that too much provocation could jeopardize the good will required for a successful vote.
“Within Republican circles there have been discussions about this,” he said, “about how we start the discussion and how we work towards unifying the state, and what that discussion would look like.”
“I think it’s going to take some more time,” he added.
Time appears to be somewhat short. Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican who won an overwhelming victory over token opposition on Tuesday, recently came out in support of putting the question on next year’s ballot.
“I trust the people of the state of Mississippi as they are the sovereigns of this state,” he said recently. “They should be empowered as to the decision of what their flag should look like.”
There is no making everyone happy on this, said Charlie Box of Columbus, a small city near the Alabama line that claims to have been the site of the first Confederate Memorial Day.
Mr. Box is one of two whites on the six-member City Council, which voted in July to take down state flags at city buildings. He was not a fan of this approach, believing the city should defer to the state, and found the whole issue unnecessarily divisive, he said. When he polled his mostly white district, he found many dead set against taking the flag down; one woman put his photograph up in her beauty salon afterward, identifying him as persona non grata.
But about half of those he polled told him what eventually formed the basis of his decision: that it was time to take the flag down and move on.
“I just think people are tired of hearing about this,” Mr. Box said.
The vote, in the end, was unanimous.
(Courtesy of Dixie Heritage Newsletter)

The War against the Flag Rages On (But You Can Win!)

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Since I posted on my blog last week, numerous developments have occurred in regard to the desecration of the Confederate battle flag. Not only have several big box stores vowed to discontinue sales, but Apple has taken down some of their games as well. Since then, sales of the Confederate battle flag have doubled. TV Land has stopped showing The Dukes of Hazzard, and rumor has it that Facebook will not allow postings of the Confederate battle flag (we’ll see if this gets posted).

NASCAR C.E.O. Brian France said that the flag is an “offensive and divisive symbol.” However, he somewhat changed his stance. Instead of banning the flag from races, he has offered a flag exchange, and is asking that spectators fly the Stars and Stripes instead of the Confederate battle flag this weekend in honor of Independence Day.

Ft. Sumpter has furled its Confederate battle flags, and all Confederate flags are being removed from the entrance to Stone Mountain. Some nut is even circulating a petition to have Stone Mountain blown up.

Baltimore’s mayor and city council have taken up a proposal to remove three Confederate monuments in the city. And Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton wants something even worse. He has announced a proposal to have the bodies of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife exhumed from Forrest Park (recently renamed Health Sciences Park by Wharton and the city council), and moved to Elmwood Cemetery. He would also like for the statue of General Forrest to be removed from the park. There is no word as to where the city would move it, or if they plan on moving the body of General Forrest’s grandson, who is also buried at the park. Absurdity reigns.

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The Ku Klux Klan has stated that they will march in South Carolina later this month to protest the removal of the Confederate battle flag. In my opinion, this is derogatory to the cause. Because of them and their racist views, the Confederate battle flag has been associated with them. However, most of us know this is not the case.

It’s bad representation like this that gives fuel to the fire of anti-Confederate nonsense. In a recent poll taken by USA TODAY/Suffolk University, the country is split on whether or not to do away with the flag. According to the poll, 42% believe it represents Southern history and heritage, while 42% believe the flag is racist and should be removed. More than half of whites who were polled believe the assault in South Carolina was an isolated incident committed by one lone gunman, and one-third say “it reflects a larger problem of racism in America.” However, among African Americans, three out of four say the battle flag reflects racism.

I would say that hypersensitivity is part of the problem. Why is it that three-fourths of blacks view the flag as racist? I’m sure part of the reason is because of the way the flag, and white Southerners in general, are portrayed by the media. Here in Sioux Falls, a local television station broadcast this story:

“A Sioux Falls couple feuding with their neighbors is flying the Confederate flag, hoping to offend people they don’t like who live close by. What would you think if this was your neighbor?”

Really? I find the wording to be offensive and misleading. We don’t know what their feud is about, or if there even is a feud. Is that really why they are flying the flag, or are they just proud to be from the South? Who knows, but in this case, it’s bad reporting. The cartoon below, which recently appeared in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, is also very offensive. Associating the Confederate battle flag with ISIS is horrendous, to say the least.

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So what happens now? Will the flag continue to vanish, whether we like it or not? Why don’t we get a say in the matter? Why haven’t these issues been put to a vote? And what will this lead to? Will all books with the flag on the cover, historical or otherwise, be banned? Will all movies be banned as well? Gone with the Wind is already under scrutiny, and you can forget about ever seeing The Birth of a Nation on TNT again.

A Beautiful Glittering Lie Cover Art   9780595908561

In honor of the Confederate battle flag and those who fought under it, I am running a contest throughout the month of July. Please send an email to jdrhawkins@gmail.com stating what the flag means to you, and you will be entered to win both of the first two books in the Renegade Series – A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire. It’s my intention to show the Confederate flag in a positive light and educate people about the Southern cause, so please help spread the word.

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