Oxford a hotbed for politics

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, October 29, 2015

There’s a revolution going on in Mississippi, whether you like it or are aware of it and Oxford is the hotbed of the uprising.

Many Mississippi residents are rising up against the establishment, trying to force elected officials to do what they believe is the right thing to do.

Initiative 42, which was birthed in Oxford by resident Adrian Shipman, is designed to force the state legislature to fully fund public education or face the threat of a lawsuit.

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The Mississippi Adequate Education Plan (MAEP) has not been fully funded by the legislature in years and a core group of Mississippians were able to acquire the necessary 200,000 signatures of registered voters to create a ballot initiative for the Nov. 3 election. The legislature countered with their own initiative, without the necessary signatures, and Initiative 42-A has been placed on the ballot, which basically states the same thing with the exception of having the threat of a judge deciding if enough money is being applied to public education on a yearly basis.

Meanwhile, the University of Mississippi administration, spearheaded by student government, defied elected state officials and many Mississippians by removing the state flag from the campus — in the cloak of the early morning sunrise this week. The Associated Student Body government voted 33-15 last week to have the state flag taken down from the flag pole on campus and the senate faculty followed suit a few days later in seeking the administration to remove the flag from public view. On Monday, the administration instructed campus security to furl the flag, citing the state flag has caused divisiveness since it contains the Confederate battle flag and decided to take matters into their own hands since state elected officials have refused to do anything about changing the state flag.

I believe a quality public education should be afforded all children in the state of Mississippi and that the current state flag that flies over a majority of the state should be changed. But I don’t advocate the legislature being forced through threats, intimidation or being circumvented for those two issues to be accomplished.

How long will it be before anarchy overrules democracy? The revolution is beginning.

I remember back not long ago when if the electorate didn’t like what elected officials were doing, the majority of people went to the polls and voted for someone they believed would do the job. But now we’ve somehow entered into a strange “twilight zone” or “alternate dimension” where it is no longer required to abide by the state constitution.

To me, the state flag issue is idiotic as both conservatives and liberals play upon the emotions of individuals to promote their own agenda. Radical conservatives want to defund a university for removing a flag from its campus and radical liberals want to remove or rename everything ever associated with the Confederacy.

I’m about as Southern as you can get, love the state I was born in, spent the vast majority of my life and grew up enthralled in its rich history. It’s the reason I majored in history and journalism in college. I firmly believe that most of the people who live here are not racist, including the more than 450,000 registered voters who decided in 2001 to not change the state flag that was created in 1894. They truly see the state flag as a sign of heritage.

Removing the state flag won’t change the past history of this state. As Faulkner said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Rob Sigler is managing editor of the Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at rob.sigler@oxfordeagle.com.