I received this stunning letter a couple days ago from a (white, I think) man in Pearl, presumably in response to my recent column about the abominable Mississippi state flag. I post it now without comment but will be back along with some thoughts later. Here it is, verbatim:
Please permit me to submit the following letter to Jackson Free Press:
Some of us have heard the question "What happens when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object?" The puzzle might seem a bit superficial until one notices we have a similar problem concerning our state flag.
I think the JFP has well demonstrated that the Confederate emblem on the Mississippi flag continues to cause hurtful memories to blacks who have endured the horrors of segregation and the Civil Rights era.
So why would so many Mississippians continue to resist changing such a hated symbol of our state's dark past? Ignorance? Bigotry? Could there still be some unspoken reason why many white southerners insist on keeping our flag in its current form?
Hey. We want progress. So let's just go ahead and bring it out in the open.
Just as the current Confederate emblem causes hurtful memories to our state's blacks, the absence of the symbol would cause hurtful memories to many white southerners. And I do not mean just segregationists.
To many whites, the erasure of the Confederate emblem would be an unreciprocated nod to the kind of blacks who attempted, and in some cases, DID seize control of Jackson's schools by force, who pulled knives on white students and threatened them with violence, who stole my brother's school books and urged him to steal from my parents to get money to get his books back.
The erasure would be seen as a nod to "gangsta rap" stars who record songs saturated with sexualized slang and glorify abusing women. It would be seen as a nod to people who have petitioned the NBA to declassify the use of the "MF" word as a technical foul because it is part of "black culture."
To be blunt, there are some facets of "black culture" many of us do not want in Mississippi culture. THAT is what some Mississippi southerners are afraid of.
Though voters decided by referendum to keep our current flag, one can argue that we must have a system in place to protect people from a tyranny of the majority. But there is a bit of a corollary to that here.
If Mississippi blacks are a minority, there is a tiny minority to THAT minority. There are some blacks who want to keep our current flag. Some support groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans because they are proud to be the descendants of black soldiers who fought for the CSA. Should not their rights be considered too?
But my position is not based entirely on fairness. Perhaps we should lose the current flag.
But that is not going to happen until we have answered the question from that old white Mississippi Southerner, no matter how "redneck" he may be, "If you take away our flag, what do we get in return?"
— Glen Stripling Pearl