Sunday, March 15, 2015

Addressing the Escambia County Commissioners

Background: In December 2014, it was reported in the Pensacola media that the Escambia County Board of Commissioners would vote on the five flags display at the Pensacola Bay Center. Everyone, including the late Earl Bowden of the Pensacola News Journal (PNJ), assumed the vote would be to replace the Confederate battle flag with the First National flag of the Confederacy, known as the Stars and Bars. This would make the county display the same as the city of Pensacola's five flags displays. I didn't attend that meeting because this change seemed a foregone conclusion.

In a move few if any foresaw, the commission voted 4 to 1 to remove all the five flags except the US flag, and to add the Florida flag to the display.

The community was stunned. I believed from the moment I heard about the vote that it was a mistake and would eventually be corrected. When Bowden editorialized that the flags should be returned to the display, with the First National instead of the battle flag, I was even more convinced. The PNJ editorial by Commissioner Grover Robinson cinched it for me. It was just a matter of time before the decision would be reversed.

January's and February's commission meetings passed with no discussion on the matter, but it was on the agenda for the March meeting. Although I knew I would have zero influence on the matter, I decided to attend the meeting.


The March meeting of the Escambia County Board of Commissioners began at 5:30 p.m. the 5th. I would not be able to get there until 6:30 or later. I assumed that would be too late to request to speak to the board, so I had no plans to do so. That being the case, I didn't take time to put on make-up or put up my hair, and delay my arrival for the meeting even more.

After dealing with various items county business, the commission brought up the subject of the Pensacola Bay Center five flags display. A number of citizens spoke to the board, and several extolled the U.S. flag as a lofty contrast to the Confederate flag with its symbolism of racism and slavery.

These comments echoed others made recently in letters to the PNJ and on social media: The only flag we should display and be proud of is the American (sic) flag.

The more I heard this sentiment at the meeting, the more I squirmed in my seat at the back of the chamber. Finally, I went to the woman who took requests from attendees to speak to the commissioners, and asked if it was too late to sign up. No, it wasn't. She gave me a slip of paper with a few blanks to fill in, and I did so.

My hastily scribbled notes
Back at my seat, I rummaged through my purse, looking for paper to jot some notes on.  I had just cleaned out my purse earlier in the day, and the only paper I could find was a couple of convenience store receipts. I scribbled notes as the subjects I wanted to call attention to came to mind; I was still writing when my name was called.

Here's what I told the commissioners:
What's worse? A country created on the principle that all men are created equal and allows slavery for eighty-nine years, or a country founded on the principle of slavery that's ready to give it up in four. Jefferson Davis sent Duncan Kenner to Europe at the end of the war-- close to the end of the war -- to offer to free the slaves in exchange for recognition from Britain and France. That's not taught in our schools. It took the Confederacy four years. It took the United States eighty-nine.

And there are other things that that flag stands for, like the genocide of the Plains Indians by the Grant Administration. It was U.S. policy to kill off the buffalo and starve the Plains Indians and take their lands for white settlers. It was under that flag that native Americans were imprisoned on reservations in conditions worse than plantation slavery. Under that flag MK Ultra experiments on unknowing-- CIA experiments on unknowing subjects, Abu Ghraib, torture in Central America approved of and perhaps achieved with help from the CIA. So that flag is not stain-free.

And the claim that it offends African Americans. Pew Research poll showed that -- recently 48 percent of African Americans are indifferent to the Confederate flag, only 41 percent disapprove.
The crux of my brief remarks was that the US flag, which some people had extolled as if it symbolized unsullied righteousness and represented impeccable loftiness, was not stain free. My point was to remind people that, when it came to negatives, the two countries represented by those two flags shared more similarities than differences.

I was the last speaker, and the board carried on their discussion afterward. Although Commissioners May and Underhill weren't prepared to change their votes, I was not at all surprised that the other three did indeed vote to return the five flags, with the First National, to the bay center. I don't believe for a moment that my comments had any bearing whatever on that decision. But I hoped I had given people something to think about.

Commissioner Underhill was not pleased with my remarks, and said, "And to that last speaker who spoke and talked about all the sins committed under this flag, this is the flag of sinners. This is the flag of a bunch of people who got together and said we can do it better and we have made some mistakes but to sit there and articulate all the things that have been done wrong under this flag, I'm really sorry that your experience brings you to focus on all of those things when we should in fact be focusing on all the things about this flag that bring us together."

It would probably be pointless to try to explain it to him, but very little about the US flag brings us together, and it grows less powerful to do that every day. In fact, it has become increasingly targeted for removal in various places and by various groups and individuals around the country. Confederate heritage folks know what that feels like first hand, and we've warned people for years that the US flag was next.

Although I don't really think Commissioner Underhill is interested, my experience that caused me to focus on those negative things is the experience of having my Southern and Confederate heritage and culture continuously attacked and dishonored. I believe the north/union had no moral authority for coming South to kill Southerners 150 years ago, just as those targeting Confederate heritage for removal today have no moral authority for doing so.

In any case, I have to wonder how many disappointed, appalled, even angry constituents the commissioners heard from during the period from December to March... In January, WEAR-TV reported, "Commissioner Grover Robinson says as soon as the county made that decision, he started getting a lot of complaints." It quoted Robinson as saying, "(They said,) ‘you took down Spanish, the British, you took down the French, why did you that?’” Robinson said.  “It’s part of our history, it’s our culture and there’s a strong desire to identify with our culture.”

Indeed, there is. Those people who complained to the county commissioners are the reason the flags went back up. Kevin Levin's calling it a victory that "rings hollow" is simply his attempt to save face because it runs counter to his long-standing prediction that Confederate heritage is disappearing from the earth.  This was a victory not only for Confederate heritage but for the people of west Florida who have strong desire to identify with our history and culture.


  1. Well done/said.

    "genocide of the Plains Indians by the Grant Administration."

    ...-this will hit a nerve at a certain flog. Expect a reaction from those quarters.

    1. ...but as to the founding principle-

      "The grand foundation principle of all Government in this country, lies in consent of the governed. Take away this corner stone of principle, and all laws fall of themselves; and Government exists, by its own will, as a monstrous usurpation....
      South Carolina has simply insisted on the grand leading idea which constituted the foundation stone of the Confederacy--that the Government was one which derived its existence solely from the consent of the governed. She has refused her consent any longer to the rule of the Federal Government.
      The right of secession is the due result of the recognized principle upon which the Confederacy was founded..."
      Charleston Mercury, February 6, 1861

    2. Right. I was couching the argument in the viewpoints common to the public debate these days -- the ones you see on comment threads following news stories and such. I used concepts that were likely to be at least somewhat familiar to the people who were in the commission chamber -- but I brought in a comparison they probably hadn't thought of before.

  2. BR, there have been minor stirrings at XRoads about my appearance before the county commissioners, but not about the Grant Administration reference. Which I admit is a little surprising, given Simpson's worship of the scoundrel....

    Mousy Tongue says, "She makes light of plantation slavery conditions..." Actually, I did no such thing, but it's a typical leftist mindset to say that pointing out the negatives of one situation is making light of another negative situation. This reminds me of the school lunch funding debate in the 104th Congress. These aren't the actual numbers, just for illustration purposes ... but they voted to fund the program with an 8% increase instead of a 10% increase, and libs from one end of the country to another shrieked and had seizures, saying they had cut the program....

    About the Confederate government's willingness to end slavery exhibited by Kenner's mission, Rob "Tu Quoque" Bakur sez, "Then spends time attempting to white wash the Confederate History of slavery; without taking into account the desperation the Confederacy found themselves in."

    Well, there's only so much you can say in two minutes .... Obviously, this is too much of an abstraction for Bakur to process.... There were lots of things I wish I could have said but didn't have time for ... the KKK's association with the US flag, for example (which in my notes, but barely legible, ha. I was using my small tri-fold wallet as a "clipboard" under the receipt, and the leather surface was soft and didn't support the paper well. I'm surprised my notes turned out as legibly as they did.)

    1. Bakur-
      "without taking into account the desperation the Confederacy found themselves in"

      Desperate or not it was done.

      Lincoln was desperate when he issued his EP.

    2. When push came to shove, they chose political independence above keeping slavery...

  3. Simpson said, "She’s not a great public speaker. But now I understand why she uses outdated images of herself. She’s vain."

    Well, duh, I'm not a public speaker at all, and this "speech" was completely impromptu...

    Yeah, I'm vain. So what?

    (Although if I had newer photos of myself, I'd probably use them. The most recent photos I have are the ones my hubs made about four years ago to use on the back cover of my novels...

    Leo said she watched my segment three times... That's a little creepy. She then proceded to tell me what I should have said. Actually, thanks to the yearly Fiesta of Five Flags, people here are very familiar with the significance of the five flags to Pensacola. And not just here. The Five Flags brand of the city is known throughout the South and beyond (a circumstance mentioned at least once during the debate, if memory serves). It might be nice to have a historical marker acknowledging the Five flags, but there is no actual need of one.

    Besides, my purpose was to point out that the flag -- the American (sic) flag -- so many people had mentioned almost worshipfully in contrast with the Confederate flag's negatives, has negative baggage of its own -- and I believe I got that point across.

    Leo ends with, "Her only hope is there are people knowledgeable about actual history working behind the scenes because she is pathetic." My only hope? What a silly sentiment, particularly in view of the fact that the flags were back up and flapping on their poles at the bay center four days before Leo posted at XRoads....

    Although, indeed, there were people working behind the scenes to bring back the flags... the late Earl Bowden of the Pensacola News Journal; one of the County Commissioners, Grover Robinson IV, a seventh generation Pensacolian,; Phillip White, who researched and wrote this document during the city's Five Flags flap in 2000,, who I spoke to briefly at the meeting to renew acquaintance ... and numerous others...

    Given the love of denigration exhibited by that crowd, most especially Simpson, I'm actually surprised the reaction from those quarters wasn't markedly worse....

    1. Heck I have so many atrocities committed by the Yankees that I created a website.

  4. Simpson's again assassinating his own intellect just for the pleasure of wielding the put down...

    Brooks D. Simpson
    March 16, 2015 at 10:57 am

    “Although, indeed, there were people working behind the scenes to bring back the flags… the late Earl Bowden of the Pensacola News Journal …”

    So a dead man was working behind the scenes …Pensacola’s an interesting place.

    Mr. Bowden died in February, about three weeks before the county commission's re-vote on the flags. After the vote removing the flags in December, he wrote an editorial for the PNJ urging the return of the flags. And while I have no proof he worked behind the scenes on this issue, knowing his history of involvement with the community, I have no doubt about it.

    Given Simpson's long history of denigration, I also have no doubt that such put-downs give him a wicked dopamine rush....

    1. "Mr. Bowden died in February",

      Small fact, why let it get in the way of Shrimpson's truth???


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