Neshoba Democrat. Feb. 2, 2022.
Editorial: Restore law and order
Already impacting Neshoba County long before now, the murder rate in Jackson is three times worse than Chicago, worse than St. Louis, Baltimore, and Memphis.
A separate judicial district and more state police, as some are now proposing to the Legislature, are ways to combat the record crime that continues to spill over into our state and impact even quiet, distant places like Neshoba County.
The 2018 murder of two people at a Philadelphia convenience store by a Jackson man out on early release may have been prevented by treating central Jackson like the Green Zone in Baghdad and prosecuting the accused with hard-nosed judges.
Gov. Tate Reeves last week proposed doubling the size of the Capitol Police so there will be more boots on the ground in the Capitol Complex Improvement District that includes downtown and the historic Belhaven neighborhood.
Robert Leon Jackson, the man who killed the two people at the convenience store here, had gone into City Furniture on Bailey Avenue in Jackson with a weapon in 2010 with the intention of robbing the business, but a store employee shot him.
Weak prosecutors let Jackson, an habitual offender, off easy and he got out of prison on early release and came to Philadelphia and shot two people dead.
Treating central Jackson “like the Green Zone in Baghdad,” flooding it with police and creating a special judicial district to prosecute the accused with hard-nosed judges is a solution to restoring law and order, State Auditor Shad White told the Canton Rotary Club last week in response to a question about soaring crime, a growing threat even in the suburbs.
If our state is to thrive fully, we need a Capital City of law and order, one governed by laws, not abandoned to daily violence. We all have an interest in stopping this deadly cycle even here in Neshoba County.
Many on the state level agree that having a Capital City that is vibrant, full of life and safe is essential, a city where residents don’t have to fear for their safety, a city where parents can let their children run around in the yard without having to fear if they’ll be home for dinner.
We believe in a better Jackson. We have faith that our state has what it takes to make Jackson a city that is a hub for business and investment, a city where jobs are plentiful and opportunity is only limited by how hard one wants to work.
Reasonable citizens of all races need to take back control from those who have a different agenda.
Reeves and others have championed the expansion of state police to support local law enforcement and restore law and order to Jackson.
“To our law enforcement officers who wake up every day, put on the badge, and risk their own personal safety to protect and serve us, thank you,” Reeves said. “As long as I’m governor, I will do everything I can to provide you with the tools and resources you need to keep us, and yourself, safe.”
More broadly, the Auditor spoke to the underlying causes of crime. “Why is a young man, 19 years old, feel like he’s got nothing to do in life except murder somebody?”
White pointed to a Junior ROTC program in the Jackson Public Schools that’s working.
“That program, inside JPS has a 100% graduation rate. 100% graduation rate,” he said.
A Gospel response to the mounting evil all around us even here in our own community is to repay evil with good, yet we can remain absolute in our stance for law and order and justice without compromise.
Greenwood Commonwealth. Feb. 8, 2022.
Editorial: Wicker No Racist, But Wrong On Court
U.S. Sen Roger Wicker could have chosen his words more carefully when recently discussing on a Mississippi conservative talk radio program President Joe Biden’s pledge to fill an upcoming vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court with a Black woman.
Wicker, by criticizing the pledge as a form of “affirmative racial discrimination” and a “quota,” opened himself up to charges of racism — a charge that those who know the Republican senator and his track record know to be untrue.
That’s not to say Wicker is perfect on race. There are few in politics, in this state or most others, who are. But there have been some moments in his political career when, if Wicker were not sensitive to the concerns of African Americans, he would have taken different positions. Most notable was his decision in 2015 to endorse a new state flag for Mississippi, one that would remove the Confederate emblem that was an insulting reminder to Black Mississippians of slavery and racial segregation. He was one of the first Republicans to advocate changing the state flag, getting in front on an issue that would take most of his fellow Republicans several more years to catch up to.
And just about a week after his talk radio controversy, Wicker joined an African American and Democratic senatorial colleague, Raphael Warnock, to condemn the recent bomb threats against historically black colleges and universities and urge the FBI to make its investigation into them a priority.
A cynic would say that Wicker joined in the letter as a way to defuse his own recent racial controversy. Maybe so, maybe not. But Wicker has shown himself to be for years a strong supporter of Mississippi’s historically black colleges and universities, authoring or backing legislation to direct programs and federal dollars their way.
As for “affirmative action,” Biden’s pledge is a form of it. To say otherwise would be to ignore the president’s stated intentions: that is, to further diversify the Supreme Court by guaranteeing that the white man who will be retiring (Stephen Breyer) will be replaced by a Black woman.
Stating the obvious, however, does not make the Democratic president’s commitment wrong. Affirmative action only gets a bad name when it is misrepresented as an effort to give lesser qualified candidates priority over more qualified ones.
The fact is, there are dozens — possibly hundreds — of jurists who have the credentials to serve competently on the high court. At one time, that pool of qualified candidates was dominated by white men. It is no longer. Thus it is justified, when vacancies occur, to try to fashion a court that better reflects that reality not only within the judiciary but society at large.
Republican presidents have done likewise. Both Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, although generally critics of affirmative action, practiced it at times with Supreme Court nominations, at least in terms of gender preference. Reagan promised on the campaign trail he would appoint the first woman to the high court and did so in Sandra Day O’Connor. When a woman justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, died in Trump’s final year in office, he promised to replace her with another woman, although one much different ideologically. That brought Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
In both cases, Reagan and Trump crossed off more than half of the federal judges (males) from consideration. We don’t recall any complaining of “reverse discrimination” about that. Wicker himself gushed how Barrett’s appointment would be an inspiration to his daughters and granddaughters.
By the same token, whoever Biden nominates, assuming she is confirmed by the Senate, will be equally inspirational to many — black females, yes, but perhaps white ones as well — who will see themselves in her.
Tupelo Daily Journal. Feb. 6, 2022.
Editorial: Time to replace Mississippi statues in U.S. Capitol
This week we learned that someone in the Mississippi Capitol removed a statue of Theodore G. Bilbo from a central meeting room. Where the statue now resides remains a mystery, but hopefully in a dark, dank basement corner under a dirty shroud.
Bilbo is a prime example of the past that Mississippi seeks to leave behind, and having a statue of him prominently displayed in the state Capitol sends the wrong message.
Standing at only 5’2”, Bilbo had a giant influence on our state as a lieutenant governor, governor and U.S. senator. He signed into law the first state sales tax in the nation. He championed compulsory school attendance laws and increased education spending. As a U.S. senator, he strongly supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
Granted, Bilbo also nearly bankrupted the state in his second term in a fight with the Legislature, fired three university presidents and replaced them with cronies, and tried to move the University of Mississippi from Oxford — but you cannot argue that he had some positive, lasting influences on Mississippi.
Nor can you argue that he was a proud, unabashed racist.
He attacked a political opponent for using the National Guard to protect a Black prisoner from being lynched.
Bilbo publicly admitted being a member of the Ku Klux Klan during an interview with Meet the Press, then a radio show, saying, “Once a Ku Klux, always a Ku Klux.”
As a U.S. senator, he advocated relieving unemployment by deporting 12 million Black Americans to Liberia.
And Bilbo co-wrote the book “Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization,” the title of which pretty much speaks for itself.
Bilbo should be studied for his place in Mississippi history, and any positive impact he had can be appreciated for what it was. But it all must be taken in context with the whole. Bilbo was a racist, and “racial purity” was a driving concern throughout his life. He is in no way someone who should be celebrated.
The same can be said about Jefferson Davis and James Z. George — the two men who are memorialized in the U.S. Capitol with statues representing the Magnolia State. These men, like Bilbo, belong in history books and museums, not on pedestals as icons of Mississippi.
Davis was the president of the Confederate States of America. What bigger representation of the sins of Mississippi’s past can you get than the man who led the states that ceded from America over so-called states rights, the chief of which was the right to own slaves?
George helped craft and then signed the Mississippi Secession Ordinance, served as a Confederate colonel, and worked to pass both state and federal laws to disenfranchise Black voters.
Yet these are the men who represent Mississippi in our nation’s Capitol? It is a disgrace, and it is past time we made a change. Mississippi’s history is not just slavery and racial strife. Countless Mississippians have made significant contributions to our country. Finding two people who represent what Mississippi is today would be hard only from the standpoint of there being so many deserving choices.
Interestingly enough, the Mississippi Legislature has the power to change who represents us in the U.S. Capitol. Bilbo was moved in Jackson. Now it’s time to replace Davis and George in Washington.
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