Letters to the Editor

State flag has symbol that was used to advance hate

As a Jackson County-native, I urge elected leaders in Pascagoula and Ocean Springs to reconsider their decisions to fly the state flag at their City Halls.

“We live in Mississippi, so we’re going to fly the state flag. It’s as simple as that," said Ocean Springs Mayor Shea Dobson.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that.

The Mississippi State Flag includes an emblem which was for decades used by white supremacists in a sustained campaign of intimidation and physical violence against our fellow Americans because of the color of their skin.

Consider the position of Native American leaders in the years following World War II as they sought to determine the use of one of their most cherished symbols in light of the actions of others: “Because the ... ornament which has been a symbol of friendship among our forefathers for many centuries has been desecrated recently by another nation of peoples, ... our tribes renounce the use of the emblem commonly known today as the swastika."

While the Confederate Battle Flag was never an symbol of friendship, these words offer an important lesson. Sometimes, a symbol can be so deeply tainted by others' actions that we must stop using it for any purpose.

Modern Mississippians have a unique responsibility because of the actions of those in our past. Taking down any emblem which includes symbols widely-used as hateful rhetoric meaningfully moves Mississippi forward and helps create a new legacy for the next generation of Mississippians.

Martin Bartlett

El Paso, Texas