Madison County Opinion...

 April 11, 2001


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
April 11, 2001

Frankly Speaking

Schools should not ban Southern emblems
The drive to punish anyone who takes pride in his or her Southern heritage has expanded to the Georgia school system. In several schools, students who wear clothing with Confederate emblems have been suspended or ordered to stop wearing the emblems.
Six students at Richmond Hill Middle School were suspended for a day for wearing the banned emblems. Educators in the system said they banned Confederate symbols to prevent racial violence.
The same excuse was offered by the principal of Cairo High School. Last week Berrien Middle School joined the list of Georgia schools denying the right of students to express their pride in Dixie.
These assaults on our culture are based on the false idea that the Confederacy was formed to preserve slavery. They say that black students are offended by the flags, songs and portraits of Confederate leaders.
Let's go to the historical record to see if these claims are valid. Abraham Lincoln denied that the war between the states was about slavery.
Read his first inaugural address. He said that his purpose was to preserve the Union. He said that he would return all free blacks to slavery if that would stop the Southern states from leaving.
Slavery was fully protected by the U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court. It could only be ended by a constitutional amendment, and that requires approval by three-fourths of the states. There were more than enough slave states to prevent any anti-slavery amendments. If the South's purpose was to preserve slavery, all they had to do was sit still. If the war had never been fought, chances are good that slavery would be legal today.
When the Southern states left the Union and formed the Confederate States of America, they set up conditions that allowed slavery to end.
Therefore, the Confederacy should be credited with ending slavery rather than being attacked for extending it.
There were several key reasons for the formation of the Confederate States. They included states' rights and unfair taxes, the same causes of the American Revolution. These causes are clearly evident in the Confederate Constitution, which guarantees state sovereignty, and prohibits the hated export/import taxes that so damaged the South's economy.
Confederate leaders felt that the Northern dominated federal government had violated the principles of our revolution, and saw the Confederacy as the true protector of that revolution. You will find evidence of this in the Great Seal of the Confederate States. The center image consists of George Washington mounted on his warhorse.
The attacks on Southern history and heritage are not based on historical reality. They reflect an effort to punish the South for holding political ideas that our attackers oppose. Attacks on our heritage are acts of hypocrisy based on historical lies. Those who cave in to these attacks, such as Roy Barnes and various school officials, deserve our criticism and scorn.
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 Zack Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
April 11, 2001

From the Editor's Desk

Thinking about the Braves
My most vivid Braves memories prior to 1991 included some less than stellar moments. There was the time Claudell Washington charged the mound with his bat in hand against Mario Soto of the Cincinnati Reds. Soto hurled the ball at Washington as he raced to the mound but missed and nailed the umpire instead.
There was the time the Braves and Padres fought all night.
And I laughed when pitcher Pascual Perez got lost on I-285 and missed his start. Of course, I started driving in Atlanta and realized that getting mixed up in that maze of traffic isn't so inconceivable, at least for me.
I remember when Perez and a nerdy-looking guy named Craig McMurtry both won 15 games in one year and you'd have thought they were the next Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan by all the excitement their success created.
Then there was big Bob Horner, who belted 15 home runs one month and slammed four dingers in one game, but couldn't catch a foul pop-up to save his life. The biggest Braves' star was of course Dale Murphy, who seemed all knees and elbows to me, but that guy could sure wallop the ball if he made contact and he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, though he probably won't ever make it.
Others made an impression on me too, like Phil Niekro, whose knuckleball could dance more than a whiffle ball in the wind, and crazy Al Hrabosky, the Rasputin of the National League, who would step behind the mound and slam the ball into his glove before turning his wild stare to the plate.
I liked utility man Jerry Royster and catchers Bruce Benedict - now a college basketball referee - and Biff Pocaroba - because how can you not like a guy named Biff? Then there was first baseman Chris Chambliss, second baseman Glenn Hubbard, shortstop Rafael Ramirez and outfielder Terry Harper, who injured his shoulder waving a runner home.
I've had some conversations with people about the old Braves recently and it's funny how people share my fondness for the days when the team was awful.
Really, it seems twisted.We remember Chief "Knockahoma" and smile. We recall how the best seats always seemed open at Fulton County Stadium as the team annually limped to a losing record.
Meanwhile, many feel somewhat pained when talking about the Braves in recent years. The Braves have dominated the National League over the past decade. But the Yankees have owned Atlanta in the World Series. And for some these October defeats have overshadowed the staggering consistency of the Braves over the past decade.
We've become numb to the winning and more than that, tired of being told how we've become numb.
In fact, that last comment smells like the same old ink spilled on sports pages since the mid-1990s. How many times have we heard that we've become jaded by the success? Enough to snear at such comments.
Nevertheless, if it takes perfection to please now, this year's team probably doesn't have what it takes. Based on the opening week, Atlanta may have some serious offensive problems. And while pitching should remain strong with Glavine and Maddux, you have to question whether the three and four starters will produce this year with John Smoltz hampered by injury and Kevin Millwood struggling. For the Braves to make it to the World Series, only to lose to the Yankees again, would be a major accomplishment this season, but a disappointment of unbearable proportions for Atlanta fans.
The 2001 season may indeed be the end of the era. If not this year, then it seems inevitable that the Braves will be thrust into mediocrity in the next couple of years.
It will be sad to see this happen. But after some darker days on the diamond maybe fans will begin to feel the warmness they should be feeling now for the Braves.
Maybe then, all the stellar moments of the past decade - the five pennants, eight division titles and one championship - will have a new glow.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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