For nearly two years we have politely, politely, ignored the Flaggers who defile the front of our university each Sunday with their Confederate flags.
Other than Dr. William K. Scarborough, a so-called professor emeritus of history and well-known unreconstructed segregationist and white supremacist, very few of the Flaggers have any personal connection to USM. Their presence, however, and their flags of hate are an insult to and an assault on The University of Southern Mississippi. Therefore we all have a responsibility to confront them, to protest them and to show them in the clearest possible ways that they are not welcome on our campus.
Again, for nearly two years we ignored them, hoping that they would go away. They have freely exercised their First Amendment rights. But after Dylan Roof and Donald Trump, and after Berkeley and Auburn and especially after Charlottesville (and Heather Heyer!), enough is enough. They have no business imposing their hate on our campus. We know who they really are, who they really are fronting for. We have worked too hard and for too long to transform USM from its segregationist bad-old-days into the welcoming and diverse university community that it is today to ignore them. We are proud that USM is the only one of Mississippi’s public universities whose student body reflects the demography of our state. And we have achieved these successes despite old hateful former professors like Dr. Scarborough, whose version of Southern history is a lie.
We are proud that USM has become the “cool university” of Mississippi. We are proud of our students for showing up and standing up against the Flaggers. Because we know what their flag really means: Whites only. We who are protesting the Flaggers reject their central message of white supremacy. Our message to them is clear as day: You are not welcome here! Don’t go away mad, just go away.
To the Flaggers: How dare you bring guns and knives to our campus! How dare you bring your racist hate uninvited to our hallowed halls! How dare you.
To the USM students who have turned out to protest the flag-loving haters, I say: We are so proud of you! Now is the time to step up. Now is the time to step forward. Now is the time to show up, together.
And to the USM faculty I say: Now is the time to lead.
Perhaps we can reason with such unreasonable people. But I doubt it. What I do know for sure is that after two full years, and after Donald Trump’s election, and after Charlottesville, the racist haters are emboldened. Doing nothing is no longer an option. We can no longer politely ignore them. We must confront them, even at the risk of being rude, because their white supremacy flags are the rudest gestures of all. And though the Flaggers seem to be shameless, and certainly are dishonorable from top to bottom, we must shame them or else become complicit in their hate. Indifference will only embolden them further.
Please consider joining us from 3:00 to 5:00 every Sunday to demonstrate in the clearest possible terms, in the most direct ways that even the least educated of the Flaggers understand, that they are not welcome at our university.