Saturday, January 19, 2008

Outlander of the Day ~ Mobile's Mike Dean

Mobile County District Three Commissioner Mike Dean reacted to news of Dr. Ben George's Lee-Moses-Dixon Vindicator Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Saraland erecting a huge CSA Battle Flag off 1-10 in a manner that I found bothersome. An active Southern Baptist at First Baptist Tillman's Corner and a strong Republican, am I expecting more from Mr. Dean than I should? Roy Hoffman reported:
Mike Dean, Mobile County commissioner for District 3, which includes the Confederate flag site, said, "I think people feel different ways about that flag. This is America, and everyone's got a view they want to represent. It's on private property."

Did Dean feel that the flag would be bad for local business or generate negative responses?

"It will have no impact," he said. "It's a matter of how people want to look at it. People have the right to feel either way on this issue.

"They're doing something," he said of the SCV group, "to remember heritage."
The battle flag issue remains relevant even on the national stage. The Huckster is making waves in South Carolina over his position on the battle flag. A "heritage" group is even airing ads on his behalf.

My response to my students or others whenever I was asked about displaying the battle flag or other CSA symbols was that I felt uncomfortable in putting out an image that was offensive to a fair number of folks. I used the questions to talk about courtesy and compassion. I at times was able to delve into racism or at least community and cooperation in a diverse society. I also talked often of symbols and how we construct meanings on individual and collective levels. Commissioner Dean could have managed a response that would have likely not cost him much, if any, support and also demonstrated some leadership.

Finally, as I recall my days teaching in two west Georgia counties, I saw those damned Dixie Outfitters types of t-shirts and other Confederate memorabilia on a daily basis. I noted an inverse relationship between kids wearing the battle flag and actually learning some history. The vast majority of my Unreconstructed Rebels were some of the least capable students I've had the opportunity to try to teach. P/W

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