|State Flag of Mississippi |
Uh-huh. I can't help but wonder why Kevin didn't express those sentiments while in the courtroom, when his anger and emotion were fresh, as he described it: "Sitting in that courtroom on Wednesday, however, left me feeling enraged." And I'm not sure why Kevin had to travel all the way to Mississippi to get enraged over what he views as racist symbolism. He could have just hopped across state lines to Rhode Island and gotten "enraged" by walking on the campus of Brown University, named after a slave-trading New England family. Perhaps that's too close to home. The backwater ignorant Southerners of Mississippi are a much easier (and safer) target than the academic elites at Brown.
Of course, I'm not the first person to see the hypocrisy of New England elites. The subject of Brown University's namesake and history has been a controversy for some time. Back in 2009, Brown University decided to rename the Columbus Day holiday, "Fall Weekend." No, I'm not kidding. As an article noted at the time:
Proponents cited Christopher Columbus' enslavement and violent treatment of Native Americans, and argued the name of the Italian explorer should be expunged from the day of celebration.But some were quick to point out Brown's hypocrisy; as the '09 article points out:
Brown’s founder, the Rev. James Manning, was a slave owner who accepted donations from many slave owners and traders, including the Brown family. The four Brown brothers, a wealthy family from Providence, made their fortune in part by trading slaves.
John — the second born — was the college's treasurer and used slave laborers to construct campus buildings, including University Hall. Eldest brother Moses — supported by family money — freed his slaves and became an abolitionist, as did his nephew, Nicholas Jr., who became the university's namesake.
One observer cut to the chase of Brown's double-standard:
"If you're going to get rid of the day honoring Columbus because he was involved in slavery, I don't see how you can bypass the Brown problem," said John Leo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. "They have to be consistent with their message on slavery. And if they’re not willing to do that, then there's no reason to take them seriously."Yes, consistency and being taken seriously is becoming quite a problem with those offended by certain symbols and symbolism - especially if those symbols are in the South. Folks are beginning to laugh at the silliness and hypocrisy. A representative of the Sons of Italy also pointed out the slippery slope involved in singling out some symbolism and symbols, while conveniently ignoring others:
Raymond Dettore Jr., national historian for the Sons of Italy, said Brown's decision to drop Columbus is "laughable" and has damaged the university's reputation among Italian-Americans. Brown's "intellectual escapades" should not stop until the school's name is changed as well, he said.
But those on the left are always rather selective about what is offensive and what needs to be changed. They criticize anything named after Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest because of his association with the Confederacy and the slave trade, but are quick to embrace an award (as Nancy Pelosi recently did) named after eugenist Margaret Sanger.
"If they want to be consistent, that's exactly what they should do," Dettore said. "If Columbus Day was offensive to Native Americans, is a slave trader offensive to African-Americans?"
Yet even more interesting to note is that Kevin seems to be suggesting some type of correlation between the symbolism of the Mississippi state flag and racial inequalities within that state's judicial system:
. . . all I could do was stare at the judge’s bench with “Justice” engraved on the front and the Mississippi state flag with its Saint Andrew’s Cross. . . . We met in a courtroom. Once again, our discussion returned to racial inequities in the system.But Kevin didn't need to enlarge his carbon footprint by traveling all the way to Mississippi so he could blog about racial inequalities in that state's justice system. As a 2007 report from The Sentencing Project highlighted, racial inequalities in state justice systems are much more predominant in the Northeast than they are in the South:
States with the highest black-to-white [incarceration] ratio are disproportionately located in the Northeast and Midwest, including the leading states of Iowa, Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Wisconsin. This geographic concentration is true as well for the Hispanic-to-white ratio, with the most disproportionate states being Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, and New Jersey;
The last time I checked, none of these states displayed a Confederate flag in their courtrooms. Of course, I may have missed something, but I don't think so. Massachusetts' black to white incararation rate is currently more than 8 to 1, New Jersey's is over 12 to 1 and Rhode Island's is almost 10 to 1.
Mississippi actually falls below the national average in disproportionate incarcerations by race with a black to white ratio of almost 4 to 1 - less than half of the New England states named above, as well as many others. (View the interactive map here.) While I applaud anyone addressing government injustice in our judicial system (I witnessed it first hand while serving as a Virginia magistrate for 12 years), it would appear that Kevin's outrage is misdirected and not based on current realities.
Once again, the obvious hypocrisy seriously damages the credibility of those who constantly point to the South as bearing the burden of America's racial problems. And some wonder why so many Southerners can't take busy-bodies like Kevin seriously. In many cases, they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about. These elites often focus on symbolism over substance; an emotional (and often agenda-driven) analysis of history and facts. Preconceived notions do die hard.
The issue of the Mississippi flag is Mississippi's business and, in 2001, they voted by a two to one margin to keep the Cross of Saint Andrews as part of their flag - in large part because many saw the controversy being orchestrated by others from outside the state. Even in predominantly black counties, the flag issue simply did not translate into the outrage some believed it should.
If Kevin wants to demand removal of the Mississippi flag from government buildings, fine. That's his right. Nonetheless, he will be unable to avoid being viewed as little more than yet one more meddling, hypocritical, busy-body elitist who can't seem to see the beam in the figurative eye of his native New England. He's got plenty to be enraged about in his own backyard.