Legislature could quickly end ongoing flag debate

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2001

With the ceremonial first-day pomp and circumstance behind them, Mississippi lawmakers will begin to roll up their sleeves today and get down to work. Or at least that’s what they are supposed to do.

We suspect, however, that with one of the hottest issues facing our state – the future of our state’s flag – our lawmakers will opt to take the easy road by simply passing the issue along to the voters.

In doing so, lawmakers will say they are simply passing the decision along to the voters. We think they are simply dodging the responsibility voters have instilled in them.

Email newsletter signup

The state flag is offensive to some people – black and white&160;- because the present flag contains the Confederate battle flag.

A governor-appointed commission has recommended a new design. Due to outside pressure from those who want to keep the current flag, the commission has also recommended putting the issue to a statewide referendum, likely in the spring.

We still believe this is not the best way to handle the issue.

First, putting the matter to a vote will most certainly cause more racial division in our state. The issue will likely fall along racial lines anyway and a campaign will only make the lines more difficult to erase.

Secondly, if the Legislature decides on a special referendum, the issue may cost the state up to $3 million. And that money will be split among the state’s counties. Adams County’s share will be nearly $30,000.

Wouldn’t that $3 million be better spent on helping give teachers a pay raise or any of hundreds of other issues in the state?

The entire flag saga could quickly end if legislators choose to take the road less traveled – the road of leadership.