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In other states, overzealous news organizations scour old college yearbooks in search of evidence of Confederacy-approving behavior by contemporary politicians.

In Arkansas, all you had to do Wednesday was walk into the great white citadel known as the state Capitol.


In a first-floor room during a meeting of the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee, the South was winning the Civil War.

In a vote of 8-to-5 with six members in the bathroom or otherwise unable or unwilling or afraid to vote, the committee endorsed the state's honoring of the enslavement of black people.

It did so by voting down Rep. Charles Blake's simple bill to change the law declaring what is honored by the one star above the word "Arkansas" on the state flag.

By a 1924 law, thus of a time in Arkansas known for Jim Crow laws and massacre of black people, that star honors the Confederacy.

Blake's bill would have left the flag alone but changed that law. He would have provided that the aforementioned star no longer honored the Confederate secession and war, thus the cause of preserving human bondage.

He proposed to honor instead the native tribes living in Arkansas long before the Europeans came through to claim Caucasian domain.

The eight votes, all cast by white Republicans, which is to say white Confederates, were against this bill. The five votes, cast by four Democrats and a lone Confederate defector, were for it.

The six non-voters, AWOL Confederates, apparently were challenged by bladder or nerve. Perhaps they were scared by a couple of tough-looking Confederate sons seated with disapproving visages directly behind Blake, the sponsor.

It was a day for symbols like that.

"What's next?" asked state Rep. Bruce Cozart of Hot Springs, meaning after we stopped saying officially by law that our state flag honored slavery.

I don't know. Maybe a black woman on the committee, Democratic Rep. Jamie Scott, wouldn't be crying.

Can you imagine? You're sitting there, a lone black female surrounded by gray-suited Johnny Rebs who are insisting they still be allowed to celebrate the enslavement of people because their pigmentation was yours.

I applaud Scott for merely shedding a tear. I might have screamed. I'd have wanted to dump water on somebody's bald Rebel head.

But that would have been unbecoming of a legislative body, even this 19th century one.

Blake, by the way, is African American and a close friend and ally of Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott. He is of that "unity" message of advancement that prevailed in Scott's recent campaign. As such, Blake explained that he was seeking only to move the state forward together.

He even went so far as to say that redefining a star added by a 1924 law wasn't so much dishonoring the Confederacy--as if there's anything wrong with that--but dishonoring the KKK-raging era during which the star's meaning was defined.

Never mind his restraint. A neo-Confederate witness prevailed by arguing to the committee that the bill was part of a conspiracy to remove all historic mention of what he called the war for Southern independence.

Some other guy testified to grumble that we only separated Robert E. Lee's birthday from Dr. Martin Luther King's so that Gov. Asa Hutchinson could make a play for black votes.

State Rep. Nicole Clowney of Fayetteville, a freshman Democrat inflicted with post-graduate indoctrination by a revisionist Yankee college, and who has taught foreign stuff like Latin at the University of Arkansas, sought at once to comfort the emotional Scott and explain that you don't erase history by declining to honor it.

She explained that we must ever remember and study the Civil War, even as we try to move past treating it as a current event.

In his closing argument for his bill, Blake said the point was that Arkansas could be better.

But it couldn't.

These were the eight Confederates voting to continue the state's symbolic honoring of a war that sought to preserve enslavement of black people: Cozart and Reps. Douglas House of North Little Rock, Josh Miller of Heber Springs, Justin Gonzales of Okolona, John Payton of Wilburn, Jack Ladyman and Brandt Smith of Jonesboro, and Gayla McKenzie of Gravette.

The six AWOL Johnny Rebs whose failure to vote was as good as a "no" were Jim Dotson of Bentonville, Richard Womack of Arkadelphia, Andy Davis of Little Rock, Les Warren of Hot Springs, Jon Eubanks of Paris and Chris Penzo of Springdale.

Those voting to disassociate the star from slavery were the tearful Scott and the uppity Clowney along with Reps. Megan Godfrey of Springdale and Andrew Collins of Little Rock, and--imagine this--one Republican providing the exception to prove the rule. That was Jimmy Gazaway of Paragould.

No information was available at press time on whether Gazaway will face court-martial proceedings in the Confederate Caucus.

------------v------------

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 03/03/2019

Print Headline: JOHN BRUMMETT: The South rose again

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Comments

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  • ARMNAR
    March 3, 2019 at 9:14 a.m.

    Thank you for naming names, John. History won't be kind to these backward-thinking neo-Confederates (aka "fine Southern folks").

  • limb
    March 3, 2019 at 9:15 a.m.

    Shame. The no to disassociate voting reps should save their clothing for re-enactments they’re so fond of. They and their cowardly cohorts are on the wrong side of history again.

  • WGT
    March 3, 2019 at 9:26 a.m.

    Thank you John. The correction will take more time. The process has begun and the time will come to put the past in the past and study the past as passed and “not as a current event.”

  • GeneralMac
    March 3, 2019 at 9:52 a.m.

    and the first three posts today were all made by the most extreme, far left of the "usual suspects"

    Like dogs howling at a full moon, howl all you want but your howling won't change a thing .

    Arkansas......good southern state
    ..............good southern folks

  • mozarky2
    March 3, 2019 at 10:04 a.m.

    The dimocrat enacted and enforced Jim Crow laws are gone, but the massacre of black people by other black people continues unabated. Brummett only seems concerned about Oscar winning movies and meaningless resolutions.

  • limb
    March 3, 2019 at 10:11 a.m.

    I posted and we are independent and republican. We are a military family.

  • RBear
    March 3, 2019 at 10:16 a.m.

    And the next two following are by some of the most extreme on the right who typically don't have a clue or lie about facts; things like the Dixiecrats enacted Jim Crow laws. Those same Dixiecrats who bemoan the progressive stance of the Democratic Party and have fled to the Republican Party.

  • drs01
    March 3, 2019 at 10:31 a.m.

    Damn John, can't you give this a rest. I challenge you to admit that your Arkansas schooling NEVER discussed the stars on our state flag. Mine didn't and I'm certain most of the posters here could say the same. Blake is given too much credit for his race baiting. This was a non-issue that wasted a lot of time in the leg. What's next? Must we all sign a paper stating we never owned slaves in our family?
    What is significant about this is Charles Blake is not just a friend of our newly elected black mayor (who won over two higher profile white candidates), he was the campaign manager and possibly the new city manager our some other high profile position. The new mayor's "unity" message can't work as long as some of his staff are stirring the race pot.
    I thought we were beyond that with Obama as president, and I hope that Scott's election would move us forward. But I have my doubts now that this obscure star issue has consumed so much energy and newsprint.

  • Knuckleball1
    March 3, 2019 at 11:15 a.m.

    For a lot of years Arkansas History was not taught in schools and never in some schools. In the schools that taught it, it may have only been taught for 6 weeks (yes the olden days).
    …………………….

    So no surprise that many people don't know about Arkansas History, teachers only had a short time to cover the highlights.
    ………...…………………………….

    Maybe along with a Civics Class for people serving in the State House maybe a Class on Arkansas History should be required at well.
    …………………………………………..

    The Crooks and Thieves are good at Stealing Money but don't have a clue about much else.

  • Delta2
    March 3, 2019 at 11:41 a.m.

    Seems to be a majority of the legislators who voted this down were from mountain districts with large white-majority populations. I suppose they are voting the interests of their constituents, many of whom don't live near anyone of African American descent. Sad. You can be Southern without refighting the Civil War.

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