Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
- Ephesians 6:10-17
I could have entitled this article, America Strong. But there has been a lot of Mississippi bashing of late. I will just hit some highlights of current events and highlights of historical events that seem to not be taught anymore.
But before that, I will be missing my 50th high school reunion next weekend in Mississippi. We live in Pennsylvania. We just returned from Tennessee a month ago and we are too tired to make the trip again. Besides, my wife has an appointment to see her surgeon, more than six months after having the surgery. It’s about time we take care of ourselves, having spent months taking care of others.
As background, I lived my first 22 years in Mississippi. When NASA was building a new facility there to make safer rocket motors for space shuttle launches, I was hired to, according to my job description, guide and direct all technical training of all employees for the entire project, regardless of the location. The main plant was in Mississippi, where we moved, but there were pieces of the rocket motors built across the country, and I had to guide and direct the training to ensure that everyone was certified at their job according to the government’s federal acquisition regulations (FARs). On that occasion, we lived in the upper northeast corner of the state for four more years with our first son graduating high school there. I lived in Mississippi a total of 26 years.
In other words, I know more about Mississippi than most people, good or bad. My uncle, the only one of my Dad’s generation that is still living, called me when I moved back to Mississippi to work for NASA. He said, “You were smart enough to read a map and get out of Mississippi. What went wrong inside your brain to possess you to go back?” For one, there are good people there, of all races, and they are loving people, for the most part. I went back to help them succeed in life, but the project was shut down, and these days, the space shuttle is a thing of the past. It might not have been if our project had been spared the axe.
In yesterday’s headlines, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) demanded of the state of Mississippi that the state flag be changed or Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi) and Mississippi State University would not be allowed to be a part of the SEC. That’s okay; there are other conferences. But the announcement is disturbing.
Then, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) piled on. They made an edict that if the state flag of Mississippi were not changed, no school in Mississippi would be allowed to host any NCAA sanctioned championship, even including regional and super-regional baseball and softball tournaments.
Why? Because the flag contained a symbol from the “Confederacy,” and without any real knowledge (or education) on the matter, that meant slavery. Both of these athletic organizations are associated with groups of universities. So, I wonder why they do not know American history? Why have they bowed to mob rule over a very selective idea that is not entirely true?
Neither of these organizations, the SEC nor the NCAA, is a government organization. Neither is a political entity. They both try to stay out of such things, but since the wars and rumors of wars… Oh, excuse me, but since the riots and threat of future riots are fresh in everyone’s mind they wish to take as much flesh from the bone as possible.
And what is wrong with the Mississippi flag? The Stars and Bars of the ‘Confederate Battle Flag’ are in the upper left corner of the flag with red, white, and blue horizontal stripes composing the remaining parts of the flag.
The Stars and Bars, for a little history lesson, was the battle flag of Robert E. Lee’s army and Lee’s army was never in Mississippi. It became the second confederate flag about halfway through the war, but it was not the only flag even then. The center star is missing in the flag of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s battle flag. Another Mississippi fighting force during the war reversed the red and blue colors. Thus, the Stars and Bars, per se, may have never flown at a Mississippi battlefield during the war. So why are we arguing over the matter? All of this is available on Wikipedia.
But what seems to be hidden is the fact that there were other battle flags used by Confederate armies, beyond those illustrated in Wikipedia. Look at most of the famous paintings of Civil War battles.
(Note: I am using ‘Civil War’ as a term so that all will understand. There are many names for the war and many that I prefer. I do not consider ‘Civil War’ as being technically accurate, but the name was forced upon folks by the ungracious victors.)
Back to other battle flags, the state flag of Alabama and Florida (only distinguishable by the Florida state seal in the center of their flag) is more prominent in the old paintings than is the Stars and Bars, since that was only used by Lee’s army. Why are these states not getting the focus of athletic organization anger? Maybe because nobody knows their history, maybe given a grade when you never attended class because you could chuck a ball ‘good.’ Or maybe because the athletic teams of Alabama and Florida are more successful at most sports and too much money would be lost, but that is only one suggestion.
No, the Stars and Bars has been misappropriated by hate groups. Because what I covered in the previous paragraphs seems to not be taught in schools, Stars and Bars means two things: Hate and Slavery. I could write pages on the subject of alternate reasons for the Civil War other than slavery, but since people’s minds are made up without knowing the facts, we’ll let it slide other than to say that people need to visit the prominent northern newspapers and see in their records of past issues what made northern states angry a day or two after the Emancipation Proclamation became known to the general public. Once you have learned some true history, then you decide. What is now being taught is distorted at best, but for the most part, a lie.
Mississippi tried to change the state flag, near the same time that the state of Georgia changed their flag, due to backlash from protests – much more peaceful than the mobs these days. The proposition on the ballot in Mississippi did not get enough support and the present flag remained. One of the most vocal fighters to retain the flag was a distinguished black man from the Mississippi Delta who traced his ancestry to people who fought for the South. Thus, to him, the Stars and Bars was as much his heritage as it was the white heritage. He did his homework. I frankly thought that the alternatives on the ballot were hideous and none reflected the heritage of the state. The ugly proposals may have had much more to do with it than hanging on to “hate” and “slavery,” which to people from Mississippi (other than a few haters) had nothing to do with it.
But, what should be done? If the SEC and the NCAA carry through with their threats, the state will lose a great deal of revenue as a result, but to allow the due process of the change of laws, there would have to be proposed new flags, and law changes proposed upon the next ballot, and it could take years.
If Senator Wicker is reading this, do you remember me? You asked me to take over the Young Republican club, even though I was not a member, when you went off to college, you being a year ahead of me in school? I turned you down, trying to stay as far away from politics as I could. Okay, I would like to make one suggestion. I suggest that the state flag of Mississippi be taken down and not displayed until the people of Mississippi can vote on it. It remains the state flag, but not displayed. Then, when mob rule has died down and things find a new normal, go through the process in a legal manner, but, even then, I am torn.
Does the state uphold the heritage of the state? Does the state uphold the vote of the majority, as our nation was founded upon for everything? Or does a mob rule take over? Does anarchy reign? Does our democracy crumble? For those from other states, you may think this over dramatic, but your ancestry of loving grandparents, etc. is not being denigrated and you are not being personally attacked.
I would love to see a new flag that appropriately represents the proud people of a state that has not seen prosperous times since before the War of Northern Aggression (sorry, the Civil War). I would like to see a flag that does not contain a battle flag of an era that is past and of which the history has been horribly distorted.
But I will not stomach people from Mississippi having to go through this trouble and expense unless other states who raised a battle flag during a slave-owning time are also forced to do so. Let’s base our “anger” on historical facts, not the myopic focus of people who do not know why they hate what they hate.
Meanwhile, I shall weep for the South, who have been oppressed for more than 160 years. And the sins of the fathers shall be punished for the fourth and fifth generations. Not considering that Jesus paid the price for those sins long ago, and the people who now live there never owned a single slave, and most count their neighbors of different races as friends.
When will we place on the Christian battle armor and say enough is enough? These arguments are borne from hate, anger, retribution, vengeance, etc. God wants us to look to Him, not our governments. Note from the Scripture above that we are not fighting principalities!!!! We are fighting evil. Although I would love to see the right-wing haters wearing Nancy Pelosi T-shirts so that maybe Nancy Pelosi would have to hate her own face (using her present line of thinking in her hateful bashing of “hate”), our real enemy is not Nancy Pelosi. It is Satan, and the evil and lies that he represents.
When we hate haters, we HATE. Period! Does anyone other than me see that?!?!?!? Do the protests provide any constructive ideas, or is it simply venting, because too much hate has entered our lives?
We need an alternative to the hate.
God tells us that we should love one another. We can hate sin, just as God hates sin. But I prefer what Mark Lowry said about that. Loosely quoted, “Hate your own sin. I have too much trouble hating my own sin to be worried about yours!!!!”
Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)”
If we cannot get that straight, we need to put down our weapons, our fists, and even our angry tongues, until we can wrap our heads around what Jesus was saying.
God is our only hope, and He wants us to love Him and show it by loving one another.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.