It appears that Mississippi has become the model for the new direction in the culture war in America.
After several major institutions, including the NCAA, the Southeastern Conference and Conference-USA, put immense pressure on state lawmakers to change the now-retired 1894 state flag by threatening to ban postseason play in the state, the Legislature moved fast a week and a half ago to transition away from the Confederate-themed banner.
The NFL franchise Washington Redskins team is now facing a similar strategy waged against it by corporate sponsors like Nike, Pepsi and FedEx to change its name.
Controversy over professional sports team names is nothing new.
There’s also the Cleveland Indians, which opted to remove its native American mascot from its uniforms and merchandise a couple of years ago.
The Atlanta Braves baseball team still proudly ignites the fans during rallies with the tomahawk chop, something that drew national criticism during the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals last October.
Polite and appropriate conversations about issues like these have been replaced with cancel culture and shouting matches by woke liberals and the angry far right.
The loudest people in the room have overridden the voices of moderation on both sides.
When the 1894 Mississippi flag came down, many proponents of the banner asked in all fairness, “What’s next? What historical monuments, statues and other symbols of heritage will be the next victims of the culture war?”
There’s talk of pulling down statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and even Abraham Lincoln.
Because the woke left and the angry far right crowds have completely dominated discourse over the past decade-plus, moderates from all political backgrounds have been drained of their gift of discernment.
We are unable to tell the difference between political correctness and correctness.
There is an ongoing information war that is being waged on Americans that has nothing to do with righting the wrongs of the past.
Issues like the former Mississippi flag, the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians are about correctness, not political correctness.
The Confederate battle emblem may have once been a symbol of southern heritage, but it was revived primarily in the South after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Separate but Equal laws, and it was used as the brand of pro-segregationists throughout the 1950s and 60s.
That context cannot be ignored.
It’s not hard to see how the Washington Redskins name and logo, as well as the Cleveland Indians, could be offensive to Native Americans.
If both franchises saw fit to change their names, it would be hard to argue with them.
Not every case is cut and dry, however.
Take the founding fathers for instance.
There is no justification for anyone having owned slaves. And there may be a justified reckoning for some of America’s founders when it comes to balancing our reverence for the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson with the recognition of their deep flaws.
But Washington and Jefferson statues are not symbols of hate.
They are not the brand of American racism.
To discard them and their important legacies completely would be to ignore the very architects of American freedom and independence.
This is the difference between political correctness and correctness.
America is a country with gaping, self-inflicted wounds like slavery, Jim Crow and the Trail of Tears, but it also has stories of great redemption that are still being written today.
The monuments we erect and keep should not in any way glorify or excuse slavery or racism, but canceling Washington and Jefferson entirely is not the way to go.
If it was up to the far left, there would be an all-out fire sale on America’s rich culture and history. Everything must go.
If it was up to the far right, America would continue to glorify some of the worst attributes of that history.
True liberals and conservatives are going to have to take the conversation back in order for us to return this country to the middle.
One way to do that is to ditch political correctness for correctness.
That’s what the Republicans and Democrats in the Mississippi Legislature did in June. That’s the model the country should be following.