Madison County Opinion...

 February 7, 2001


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
February 7, 2001

Frankly Speaking

The flag fight is not behind us
The deed is done. The Georgia legislature has voted to change the state flag, reducing the beloved Confederate battle emblem to a tiny image on a banner near the bottom. So, what now? Will the change hold up? Will it survive a possible court challenge? Will those who voted against Southern heritage be reelected in 2002?
Contrary to an editorial in the Atlanta fish wrapper, this issue is not behind us. To paraphrase a great American military leader, "We have just begun to fight!"
Now, I am not a lawyer. I don't even play one on TV. But there are two obvious legal problems with the new flag. First, it violates federal codes by placing the U.S. Flag below the state seal. It violates the same code by making the U.S. Flag smaller than other emblems in the same display. This is an insult to the U.S. Flag, that many veterans will find offensive.
Secondly, the U.S. Constitution guarantees each state a "Republican" form of government. That places the power of government with the people, exercised by selecting delegates to represent their desire. The new flag was developed in secret and forced through the legislature in opposition to the clear desires of the people. Poll after poll revealed overwhelming public opinion in favor of the old flag. Yet there were no public hearings, no opportunity for opponents to the flag change to testify before legislative committees. This decision was clearly not the results of a republican process.
Now for the political future. Many of those who yielded to the pressure from Governor Barnes already expect to lose their positions in the 2002 elections. Barnes himself will likely go down in defeat. A totally new political structure is likely to emerge in Georgia as a result of this action.
I see these startling changes in Georgia as a result of the flag battle. First, the Democratic Party will be reduced to liberal blacks with a few radical left whites. In the future, the Democrats will be the marginal, third party in Georgia.
The Republican Party will consist of those suburban immigrants from other areas of the nation surrounding Atlanta with a few strong points around other larger cities. They will have a brief period of dominance, then follow the Democrats into a limited role in state politics.
A new party is in the works that will become the power broker in Georgia. Now strongly organized on the state level and rapidly gaining county chapters, the Southern Party of Georgia will gather up most of the traditional Southerners, the Christian right and States Rights conservatives. This party will emerge as the strongest of the three, but not strong enough to control state politics without help from a few cooperative Republicans.
Once in power, this coalition will successfully restore the previous Georgia Flag, drive for greater state independence from the bloated federal bureaucracy and by electing a non-committed slate of electors, become a power broker in presidential politics.
The Georgia Flag Fight is far from over. It will power state politics for years to come, creating a dramatic new political climate in Georgia and the South.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

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Column
By Ben Munro
The Madison County Journal
February 7, 2001

In Other Words

An unsightly banner
Somewhere ole' Betsy Ross is rolling over in her grave.
Yes, the matriarch of flag design would certainly gasp at Georgia's needle and thread compromise which is being called the Georgia's new state banner - a supposed blueprint to heal the state's racial tension.
The flag is intended to represent all Georgians, but it looks more like an extra value menu with that odd-looking assortment of flag selections across the bottom of the banner. Are we supposed to select the one we want and supersize it?
We definitely look like a state that can't make up its mind. But this is the unfortunate essence of politics. In an attempt to appease the masses, we get something that is downright ugly. The new flag is a patchwork quilt of political correctness and under-the-table compromises thrown together hastily as the state's big shots caved under pressure from special interest groups and threats of money lost from boycotts.
Gov. Roy Barnes veiled his fight as one for racial harmony, but he really sold out the state's history for the almighty dollar, fearing the plug would be pulled on future NCAA Final Fours and Super Bowls because of the presence of the state's biggest "criminal" - the unsightly design of two star-crossed blue bars on a red background.
Now, to my knowledge, the post-1956 flag has yet to oppress a single person, but the banner had been on death row for years because of people complaining the banner somehow hurt them. The attention of our state leaders has long been turned from more pressing issues because of the objection to a symbol of the South being paired next to the state emblem.
The Confederate battle flag is a collective symbol of the states below the Mason-Dixon line. It represents a pride that comes with living in the region.
But unfortunately, the symbol has been adopted over the years by hate groups such as the Klu Klux Klan. And the anti-Southern heritage contingency has gone so far as to believe that everyone who flies the Confederate image or takes pride in the ancestry of the South, subscribes to the racist attitudes in which the hate groups indulge.
And apparently, this misconception led to the stripping of the symbol of Georgia's forefathers from the state banner.
So today the flag is gone, but what of tomorrow? Will Tyrone Brooks and his cohorts be allowed to parade down to Stone Mountain armed with several tons of TNT so they can blow the images of Lee, Jackson and Davis off the mountain and out of memory.
I'm sure if Jesse Jackson can take time away from his busy schedule of cheating on his wife, he'll probably find a way to use Rainbow Coalition funds to help accomplish that feat.
The flag could be the tip of the iceberg for erasing all that remains of the heritage of the South. Will the statues of Confederate soldiers be taken from the small-town courthouses?
Will Confederate Memorial day be taken off the calendar?
Georgia may be "in the land of cotton," but if people like Roy Barnes have their way, "old times will soon be forgotten."
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison County Journal.


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