Georgia`s Flag Referendum: Economic Man (And Friends) vs. American Man
Just in time for
Black History Month, Southern heritage activists in
Georgia are resurrecting a little white history of their
own, and predictably the anti-white lobby doesn`t much
care for it.
But beyond the
possibility that something out of the white past might
actually be honored, what the white-haters also hate is
the prospect of a little plain old democracy.
When the new,
Republican governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, was
running for the statehouse last year, he vowed to hold a
state referendum on restoring a Confederate flag design
to the state flag that his Democratic predecessor cut
out. Now, after
some hesitation, Gov. Perdue has
committed himself to the promised vote, and some
folks aren`t happy about it.
Among those unhappy
is state Sen. Vincent D. Fort, whom the New York
Times describes as "a leader of the black caucus"
in the state legislature. "If there had been a
referendum in Georgia in 1860 on slavery," he told the
Times, "I`d still be picking cotton." [Georgia
Gov. in a Pickle Over Flag Pledge, By Jeffrey
Gettleman, NYT, Jan. 20, 2003]
about this statement is the fear and hatred of the
state`s white majority it betrays. Mr. Fort assumes that
(a) restoring the
Confederate flag to the state flag is analogous to
slavery itself, and
(b) the voters of
Georgia today are not very different from those of 1860.
Talk about somebody
who can`t let go of the past!
But Mr. Fort also
assumes that letting the whole people of Georgia decide
what their own flag is going to look like is
objectionable in itself. In 2000, when Gov. Roy Barnes
contrived to remove the Confederate emblem in the
old state flag, he did it in cahoots with
the legislature, not the voters.
That`s why Mr.
isn`t governor anymore. "You can`t imagine the
anger," one partisan of the flag told the Times,
and when Mr. Perdue vowed to support a referendum on the
issue, he won a massive turnout of the state`s white
the black caucus` Mr. Fort are one side of the flag
issue in Georgia, but the state also has a fair share of
Economic Men who don`t want the state`s Southern and
Confederate heritage to get in the way of business.
They`re mainly afraid that such beacons of freedom as
Mr. Fort and his allies will sponsor
boycotts of the state to bludgeon it into dumping
"We can`t afford
any more economic losses,"
Rep. Denise Majette. "A referendum would be
detrimental," worries a spokesman for of the Atlanta
Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Threats of boycotts
against South Carolina and Mississippi, which also
bucked the anti-white lobby on the Confederate flag
issue, turned out to be inconsequential or non-existent,
so much of the economic argument is not only wrong but
probably insincere anyway.
an argument that many whites will swallow, if only
because the triumph of
Economic Man has helped erase a good deal of
allegiance to or knowledge of white Southern heritage.
Indeed, it`s fairly
clear that Georgia, like other Southern states and
indeed states not in the South as well, already
possesses a split cultural personality.
On the one hand,
there are the people who felt the anger when a central
symbol of their identity as a people and a state was
stripped out of their own flag without their consent. To
them the Confederate flag may or may not have something
to do with race, with the Late Unpleasantness of the
American Civil War or with what Sen. Trent Lott
coyly called "all these problems" we`ve had
ever since desegregation took place. But what the flag
certainly has to do with is who and what the people of
Georgia are—and with what they want to be and who is
going to decide.
On the other hand
there is the peculiar alliance between professional
anti-white activists like the ladies and gentlemen of
the black caucus and the business elites who just want
to make money and are terrified any display of cultural
heritage will threaten that. Except for their
shared distaste for that heritage, they have little
in common, and it will be interesting to see how well
they can work together in a campaign against the flag.
appropriate that the whole people of the state will get
to vote on the flag issue and decide it one way or the
other for good—or at least until the forces that hate
the flag and the people it symbolizes can come up with
some new excuse to take it down.
How the referendum
comes out will tell us as well as the voters themselves
what kind of people and what kind of identity they are.
[Sam Francis [email
him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection
of his columns,
America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The
Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available
Americans For Immigration Control.]