A Progressive Theo-Political Blog Bringing You The Best and Worst of Baptist Life.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mike Huckabee, Roy Barnes & That Racist Flag

Enjoying Georgia? Thank a Democrat!

Back in early high school, I had a bumper sticker that said just that on my guitar case.

There used to be a time when such a statement wasn't laughable. Dems controlled the House. Dems controlled the Senate. And a Democrat had resided in the Governor's Mansion since Reconstruction. Bill Clinton even carried Georgia in 1992. However, the fate of Georgia was sealed with Dole's Georgia victory in 1996 and Governor Sonny Perdue's big win in 2002.

Back to me. My personal decision to identify as a Democrat had little to do with Bill Clinton and absolutely nothing to do with my fellow Baptist, President Jimmy Carter.

I understood WHY I was and had always been a Democrat because of this man - former Governor Roy Barnes of Georgia. My fascination as a young boy with the Civil Rights Movement and freedom-fighters like Dr. King, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth helped me understand the importance of fairness and equality. Roy Barnes helped me to see that fairness and equality was and is best embodied in the Democratic Party.

But back in 2001, Roy Barnes had the courage to remove the Confederate Emblem from its prominence on the state flag. Barnes understood that the racist Confederate Emblem was a symbol of hate. His decision to change the state flag was protested by thousands and ultimately cost him his job. For his courage, Gov. Barnes was selected by a bi-partisan committed named by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation to receive the Profile in Courage Award.

Roy Barnes is an American Hero.

Unfortunately, Mike Huckabee is not.

Here's what Huckabee said just yesterday in South Carolina:
"You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag," Huckabee said at a Myrtle Beach campaign event. "In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do."

Later, in Florence, he repeated the remarks. "I know what would happen if somebody comes to my state in Arkansas and tells us what to do, it doesn't matter what it is, tell us how to run our schools, tell us how to raise our kids, tell us what to do with our flag — you want to come tell us what to do with the flag, we'd tell them what to do with the pole."

Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan dubbed Huckabee's comments - "repulsive pandering."

Unfortunately, pandering to racists is still cool in the Grand Old Party. I hope and actually don't think that yesterday's statements represent the real Mike Huckabee. In 1997, Huckabee spoke at the 40th anniversary ceremony commemorating the integration of Little Rock Central High. Here's a snippet from that speech:
Some have asked: how long are we going to deal with this Central crisis situation? Are we going to have to relive it every few years? And I know there were some who were frankly made to feel very uncomfortable about all of these activities because some felt that it would just resurrect feelings and anxieties.

Well, let me tell you how long we will deal with it -- until justice is the same for every human being whether he or she is black or white, we will deal with it. Until the same rules apply to get a bank loan for every person regardless of who he or she is, we will deal with it. As long as there are whites who turn around and see a black person coming and bring fear to their hearts, we will deal with it. And as long as there are blacks who look and see and have resentment toward a white person, we will deal with it. We will deal with it until the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King lives in all of our hearts, and that is that we will judge people by the character of their hearts and not by the color of their skin.

Huckabee should have either spoke out against the flag or at least kept his mouth shut. His pandering to flag-waving racists who try to pull the wool over our eyes with their Heritage Not Hate bullcrap is quite unbecoming of a man who professes to be a "Christian Leader" and hopes to be President of the entire United States of America.

When I was a little boy growing up on the campus of Brewton-Parker College in Mt. Vernon, Georgia - I used to believe that "Republicans" were racists and "Democrats" were not. Why? The few Democrats that I knew were educated professors and professionals who talked sophisticated and had a clean mouth. They didn't own a Confederate Flag. The "Republicans" that I knew were the folks who spoke ill of "blacks", used the N-word and had that Confederate emblem plastered on their truck or a hanging from a wall in their home. As someone who was in church each time the doors swung open - unfortunately most of the "Republicans" that I knew were my fellow church members.

Of course I was wrong. After all, I was only 9 or 10. A racist is a racist. And I know both Republicans and Democrats who are stone cold racists. Many do not have a racist bone in their body.

But Mike Huckabee doesn't help fix the perception that Republicans are racists - a perception that many little boys like myself clung tightly to. I know that I wasn't alone. My feelings and perceptions were not unique especially in south Georgia.

On Monday, many of us will officially celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Meanwhile we have a Presidential candidate who many consider to be a frontrunner gallivanting across the state of South Carolina pandering to racists. Sad. Just sad.

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Anonymous peacetrain5 said...

Thanks for the article. I am having a similar conversation with my daughters. This was helpful.

7:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, John McCain said the same thing about "outsiders" and the SC flag in 2000--and has confessed publicly that this was one of his worst decisions. Huckabee is playing the race card.

He really is far more right wing than the news has yet noticed.

12:29 PM

Anonymous Chuck said...


All your passionate eloquence might be accurate if your judgmental conclusion--that "Heritage, not Hate" is a lie--happens to be accurate.

Perhaps judgment is best left to God? Perhaps Huckabee is pandering to history-, not hate-mongers?

2:29 PM

Blogger Danny said...

I understand you will be one of the bloggers at the NBC in Atlanta. I'm not the only one who thinks this meeting could have a political undercurrent, despite promotions to the contrary. If so, I hope you'll be as candid in your assessent as you are with Huckabee in this blog.

5:22 PM

Blogger CB Scott said...

Big Daddy,

This really is a stretch. It seems those who would seek to hurt Mike Huckabee are really having to dig deep in their mud holes to find any to throw, does it not?


12:38 PM

Blogger CB Scott said...

Big daddy,

I like you grit and steel and the way you have nailed Richard Land as he really is. I do disagree with you on Mike Huckabee.

Go read my latest post at cbscottreport.blogspot.com.

Therein you will find the real reason I support him and continue to ask you to do the same.


2:50 PM

Blogger Roger said...

BD Weave,

I met Huckabee years ago and have kept up with him for some time. He is a good person who is allowing his values and character to be grossly twisted in his desire to win the nomination. His comments in SC, as you rightly point out, are deplorable. It "plays well" which is deeply disturbing because I think the speech he gave on Central High is closer to his core values.But how disturbing that he would throw away such deep convictions so easily in his quest for victory. THAT is not leadership and we do not another chameleon in office. And at the end of the day, it didn't do him a bit of good via the results, only leaving a stain on his reputation....thanks for a thoughtful article.

9:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was never interested in how "Sanctity of Human Life Sunday" came to be, but I always wondered why it wasn't called what it truly is: "Anti-Abortion Sunday." I was teaching an adult Sunday School class some years ago, and I decided to open the discussion up to a more broad definition of what sanctity of human life really means--how this idea is interpreted and lived out biblically, and in American life and culture. We talked about abortion, but we also talked about the death penalty, child abuse, rape and other ways in which human life is denigrated routinely in our society. The confederate flag is a symbol of a heritage of hatred and oppression of people based solely on the color of their skin. Is this not a scantity of human life issue? If someone wants to hang it in his or her living room and talk about Southern "heritage", so be it, but there is absolutely no legitimage argument for its inclusion anywhere within the public sphere.

Mike Huckabee's politically motivated (I hope this is the case, and not a reflection of his personal beliefs) remarks do indeed pander to racist individuals. How someone preaches against the "evil" of abortion but doesn't have the moral and political courage to denounce racism and other offenses against the sancity of human life is beyond me.

We've had 8 years of leadership by a man without such courage already--why would we want more of the same?

Denver, CO

8:15 AM

Blogger Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

Well, perhaps the McCain victory ends the use of the racist flag as an issue. I think Huckabee's bringing it up, along with some other campaign nastiness, hurt him as much as Thompson's splitting of the conservative vote. Even some evangelical Republicans went for McCain.

(BTW, news pollsters are still doing us a disservice by not asking any Democratic voters--in Iowa, NH, and now Nevada--whether or not they are evangelical. So, we have no idea how many evangelicals are Democratic or form whom Democratic evangelicals are voting!)

Richard Land must be livid that Dead Fred can't win. But the longer he stays in the more he helps McCain by splitting off votes from Huckabee.

I don't know how I feel about that: I admire McCain as the one GOP candidate taking a strong stand against torture, but he is the most pro-war of them all. I think he is reliving Vietnam in Iraq. Also, as a progressive Democrat, I think McCain and Romney would be much harder to beat than any other GOP candidates this year.

2:04 PM

Anonymous Billy Bearden said...

Dear BD Weave

I am never one to tell anyone not to worship their heroes, but in speaking of ex Gov Barnes, you have spun the 56 Flag events and Barnes connection to it so far into the twilight zone it is in the vicinity of Andromeda.

Barnes ran on the campaign promise not to touch the flag, as he saw what Zell Miller went thru. In October 2000 on CNN Barnes told the world the flag was not an issue.

The infamous 'secret meeting' in the Govs Mansion with Ga Power, Atlanta CoC, Smyre, Brooks, and Austin Scott plainly shows the worshippers of political correctness and a "Star Chamber" of self annointed dictators in the throes of thrwarting the majority of Georgians well known wishes on the subject.

The main stumbling block to the deal was Tom Murphy, who for 20 years killed every bill to change the flag issued by Brooks. Barnes bought off Murphy with numerous bribes (Murphy Campus of West Central Tech in Waco, having Mike Murphy appointed a judge, and creating a special judicial curcuit for him to preside over, Murphy Industrail Drive, etc...)

Barnes also threatend, arm twisted, and blackmailed legislators to get the votes he demanded to change the flag.

Former Carroll County legislator Jack West had his district removed by redistricting for voting to keep the flag, many legislators were stripped of funds already allotted to their districts for voting against Barnes.

Senator Nathan Dean was protected by Barnes for his vote, cause he was shown to have been involved in a campaign scandal involving arson, and tenants of his rental property. The police dept in Rockmart withheld info on this story until the day after the election (remember the rape victim of President Bill Clinton and how CBS sat on the story the same way)

Most legislators only saw the new flag for the first time on the day in January 2001 - that took all of 3 days without public comment to shove down the people's throat, then Barnes said the public would forget in 3 months.

Personally, I cannot stomach such politics, as apparently the majority of Georgians agreed and replaced him with Purdue. Had your hero not danced to the tune of Jesse Jackson and Tyrone Brooks, he would have been the Vice President candidate instead of John Edwards, and as such the democrats would have won in 2004.

As an epilogue, when it came time to find out just exactly how many people desired Barnes much ballyhooed Blue Rag, only 212,020 citizens chose it (out of 4.5 million registered voters)

6:36 PM


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