Madison County Opinion...

FEBRUARY 26, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
February 26, 2003

Frankly Speaking
The ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ of the flag issue
Reality television is all the rage now. But most of what they show is very unreal. The same can be said about arguments about the Georgia flag. Here is a list of realities for your consideration.
THEIR REALITY: If Governor Perdue pushes through a vote on the Georgia flag, it will create divisiveness and ill will among Georgians.
THE TRUTH: The Barnes Rag is the most divisive action taken in Georgia in years. It was so divisive that it ended Roy Barne’s political career. If the majority of Georgians are not given a chance to select a flag, the issue will become even more divisive. A Perdue failure to support a flag referendum will see him following Barnes into political obscurity.
THEIR REALITY: Going back to the 1956 Georgia flag will damage the state’s economy.
THE TRUTH: Georgia’s strongest economy occurred with the Southern Cross flying proudly over our statehouse, county courthouses and city halls. Georgia recorded one of the strongest economies in the nation, with greater overall growth, job growth and tax revenues than at any other time. Once the Barnes rag was installed, our economy nosedived.
Now, the ’56 flag did not create all that growth, nor did the Barnes Rag cause the decline. What flag we fly will not remove or create new jobs.
THEIR REALITY: Georgia will be severely damaged by a threatened NAACP boycott if the ’56 flag is returned.
THE TRUTH: The NAACP boycott is an empty threat. For the past several years they have been boycotting our neighboring state of South Carolina.
During that time, South Carolina has experienced a boom in tourism. Not only has tourism grown each year in South Carolina, the cost of providing services to tourist areas, (police, maintenance, garbage) has dropped. The only people hurt by the NAACP boycott are a handful of black racists who operate businesses that cater only to black customers. (Why has none of the Atlanta media bothered to report these figures?)
Based on South Carolina’s experience, Georgia can only benefit if the NAACP boycotts us.
THEIR REALITY: Blacks in Georgia are highly offended by the ’56 flag.
THE TRUTH: Only a handful of black activists care about the flag. The majority of the state’s black citizens don’t care one way or another. Many of them agree that the method used to change the flag was wrong. A significant number of them actually support the ’56 flag.
MY REALITY: Those who attack Southern culture, including our flag, are supporters of a political agenda that most Southerners reject. They all support a massive federal government that controls every detail of our lives. Knowing that only an all-powerful federal government can enforce this plan, they do everything they can to destroy local governing authority.
The Southern way is for every person to be responsible for themselves. We agree with Thomas Jefferson who said, “He who governs best, governs least.”
We agree with the original plan of government that keeps the authority to govern at the state level, and limits the federal government to providing national defense and coordinating relations between the states.
The battle over the Georgia flag is a battle between individual liberty and government enslavement. I join John Hancock and demand liberty!
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.

Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
February 26, 2003

From the Editor's Desk
Courthouse regaining its
elegance
My old county courthouse experience is limited.
When I started with The Journal in 1998, the government had already moved to the old Danielsville Elementary School.
The majestic building at the center of town was not useful anymore, beyond serving as a subject of chit chat and a marker for giving directions.
But I remember hearing the stories of bats flying over jurors’ heads, as well as laughter about a notoriously bad men’s bathroom.
Mostly, though, there was dismay with the general decay of the structure, heads that shook from side to side when the old rusty roof was mentioned, how it covered the building like a tooth slowly rotting away.
On the few occasions that I stepped inside the building, I wondered how the creaky old wood had supported a functioning government in my lifetime.
It had an Andy Griffith feel, something evoking warm sentimentality, but something that belongs in black and white.
I visited the courthouse last year to see how renovations were going and there was a difference, but I left with the same general feeling that the building was far from salvaged.
That may still be true to some extent.
There’s still plenty of work to be done.
But I feel differently now.
I visited the new Chamber office downstairs at the courthouse Thursday, along with a large crowd.
And it’s sharp. The old wood has a polished sheen.
And as I looked through the window from the Chamber office, stuffing myself with hors d’oeuvres, watching the traffic move north toward the building before circling to the right, I recognized that there was an atmosphere of stateliness, that the large discussion table by that window is the perfect setting for talking about the county’s future, much better than the windowless meeting rooms of the current county government complex.
It’s an asset, though it’s something that won’t show up in a budget, because you can’t tag a line item for elegance.
But visit the courthouse and I think you’ll see what I mean.
Of course, there are many who deserve credit. But I think you have to be behind the scenes of something like this to fairly distribute such accolades.
I do not know the private moments of personal sacrifice that have gone into the courthouse restoration effort.
But I can recognize that they are there.
And it’s something the community can be thankful for.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

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