SCV: Up in arms over flag debate
By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
April 2, 2001
With an April 17 vote approaching, more Sons of Confederate Veterans groups are speaking out in hopes of saving the current Mississippi state flag.
Local SCV Camp Commander Scott McQuaig said he sees no relevant reasons why the flag should be changed.
The Mississippi flag contains a smaller version of the Confederate Battle Flag, which flew over units of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Many African-Americans believe the symbol is a reminder of oppression and a racist past.
Other, such as McQuaig, disagree and believe the 107-year-old state flag isn't a black or white issue, rather an issue of character.
McQuaig, commander of Lauderdale County's Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp, made his comments during an interview with The Meridian Star's Editorial Board.
McQuaig says the Confederate emblem embedded in the state flag was never about racism, but was rather invented as a way for troops during the Civil War to distinguish between friends and foes.
According to McQuaig, the Confederate emblem was actually taken from a Christian symbol and modified for the Confederate Battle Flag. McQuaig said the "X" with stars in the Confederate Battle Flag was derived from the St. Andrew's Cross.
McQuaig said the misunderstanding over the flag is nothing new and many camps of the Sons of Confederate Veterans get a black eye for supporting the Confederate Battle Flag, which is also often used by white supremacist groups such as the KKK.
McQuaig says as an organization the SCV has far more history buffs than hate mongers.
Although McQuaig doesn't agree the state flag is a racist symbol because of its Confederate emblem, he said he is sympathetic to those who see the debate that way.
The flag issue may be the line in the sand, an issue that many SCV members won't back down from despite criticism or pressure from other groups, according to McQuaig.
As far as the April 17 vote goes, McQuaig believes Mississippians will awake on April 18 to see the same flag flying overhead that has been flying since 1894. At a recent public event, McQuaig said SCV members were rallying in support of the flag and that the group was never criticized.
As a fail-safe measure to make sure the flag isn't changed after the vote, SCV camps across the state are collecting signatures to propose a constitutional amendment making sure no changes can be made to the symbol.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.