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Colonel Reb Backers Keep On Fightin’

If I were a German immigrant, I think I’d fly a Nazi swastika in front of my house.  And when I was confronted by angry neighbors — about 20 seconds after hanging said flag — I’d simply say, “It’s heritage, not hate.”  You see, as someone from Germany, I could simply say that I was honoring my German ancestors, not what great grandpappy’s flag had come to represent.

But I don’t think I’d be able to pull that one off.  At all.  Do you?

(For those who don’t get hyperbole when it comes to point-making, no, I’m not serious about flying a swastika.)

Yet every year that “heritage not hate” message gets tossed around by folks who choose to fly the Confederate battle flag.  (The actual Confederate flag was a different piece of cloth altogether, by the way.)

“We’re not trying to offend anyone and we’re not pro-slavery, we just want to hold on to our traditions,” is the usual argument.

Of course, if these folks had been born with a different skin tone and a different family history, they might not be so pro-flag, pro-Dixie, or pro-Colonel Reb.

That’s right, this is about Colonel Reb.  It seems a group of Ole Miss students and alumni are kicking off a full week of events today aimed at bringing back the old Colonel Reb mascot to the University of Mississippi — ’cause in a world filled with war, sickness, poverty and heartache, nothin’s more important than standin’ up for a man in a stuffed suit.

“We made it for the students,” said Kellie Norton, a junior at Ole Miss and the student leader for the Colonel Reb Foundation.  “They absolutely love Colonel Reb, but they never had an opportunity to hang out with him or see him.”

They absolutely love him?  He’s been retired from the Ole Miss sidelines for nearly a decade.  The only students who might remember him are a few eighth year seniors at Delta House named Otter, D-Day and Bluto.

Come to think of it, this whole thing smacks of dumb college kids being dumb college kids.  Hey, I can say that, I was a dumb college kid. 

If the administration takes something away — no matter what it is — you fight to take it back.  If there’s a reason to gather ’round and play beer pong — say a pro-Colonel Reb rally — you embrace it. 

Unfortunately, this silly push to bring back the old Southern gentleman only fosters the idea that racism is alive and well on the Ole Miss campus.  And that, of course, is the reason Dixie was nixed and the rebel flag was banned from UM games in the first place.  Colonel Reb — a Southern plantation owner — was viewed by some as a racist symbol of a racist age.  So the school did away with him, too.  Way back in 2003.

Unfortunately, every time the University of Mississippi tries to take a step into the 21st century, someone stands up demands a step back to the 19th. 

Remember that handful of KKK’ers who spewed their nonsense on the Oxford campus two years ago?  That small group made awfully big headlines… mainly because no other campus in America has any KKK’ers marching around pushing for Dixie to be sung at ballgames.

Last week, Norton suggested on Mississippi radio that the “name Ole Miss” will eventually be shelved.  Ole Miss alum Brian Ferguson — also of the Colonel Reb Foundation — suggested the nickname “Rebels” will eventually go, too.  Colonel Reb is just another step in the PC-ification of Mississippi, in their view.

Well, we’re not buying what those two are selling.  Ask Southern Cal and Pitt how easy it’s been for them to get folks to refer to them as Southern California and Pittsburgh.  The name “Ole Miss” isn’t going anywhere.  Neither is the nickname “Rebels.”  After all, I haven’t heard anyone pushing UNLV to dump their moniker.

Loving one’s school is fine and dandy and traditions are what makes the SEC great.  But when a majority of people feel that a tradition is offensive and that it serves as a negative mark upon your school, that’s when it’s time to change the tradition. 

And a decade after that change is made, it’s probably time for people to go ahead and accept it. 

Rebels.  Ole Miss.  Those are traditions.

But a guy in a fuzzy mascot suit?  Sorry, I’d feel silly putting up too much of a fight for what amounts to a big stuffed animal.

 


15 comments
Sun Wukong
Sun Wukong

The reason that people mention "Ole Miss" as something that might be done away with isn't disconnected from Colonel Reb and the Confederate battle flags. "Ole Miss" is a slave term, used to refer to the master's wife. UM sort of has a mess on its hands. The whole identify of the school was built up around Confederate nostalgia and symology, from the nicknames to the colors to the mascot. All the fits we're seeing now are the result of trying to make those traditions fit with really long overdue notions of equality and acceptance that a state university should represent. Confederate "heritage" symbols aren't necessarily "hate," but they are deeply divisive, both in their original context (there was a whole Civil War, you know) and in the context they acquired in the racial politics 20th Century, where they were used openly to rally support against black rights. A state that exists to serve all its citizens shouldn't get mixed up in those kinds of symbols. I wouldn't minimize the issues as being only about "a guy in a fuzzy mascot suit," though, and I don't think this is going to be over for UM now that they've replaced their mascot.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Sun Wukong.

My piece was about a group of students and alums who are up in arms over the 8-year-old retirement of "a guy in a fuzzy mascot suit."

John

Sun Wukong
Sun Wukong

That's true, but I think they think it is symbolic of a broader dismantling of their school's traditions, and I think they may be right. They just picked some bad traditions.

JCS
JCS

I wonder why a couple of people in the Ole Miss Administration got up in arms about changing "a guy in a fuzzy mascot suit," in the first place? He didn't seem to offend the thousands of black people that attended school there before PC came along. He only seemed to offend a couple of white administrators looking for an NAACP endorsement for Ole Miss?

JCS
JCS

Just one question according to your logic John, IS IT NOT SILLY TO BE OFFENDED BY A BIG FURRY REBEL MASCOT? I don't know a whole lot about Ole Miss besides the fact that I was admitted to school there, but I'm pretty sure that a whole lot of black people have attended school and graduated from there while they still had Colonel Reb. I'm also pretty sure that there have been plenty of black people play in the Pride of The South and have played From Dixie with Love plenty of times. Where was the outcry then? This is just another case of "change" in America. PC is killing the USA. If it keeps up, in 20 years everything in the South will be banned. No more cornbread because your ancestors ate that and they owned slaves. Collards are offensive because blacks grew them and you ate them, you must stop eating them. No more historic plantations, we must burn the ones that Sherman didn't because they are offensive and slavery was their driving force. I'm pretty sure that they are going to start busing more Yankees (than are ALREADY HERE) down South to teach us all how "to live right."

George
George

"If it keeps up, in 20 years everything in the South will be banned."

Well before that the "Southern Whites" will be a minority with Yankee transplants and Hispanics. So you can keep dreaming!

TMI74
TMI74

While your at it John, how about getting rid of the Braves, Redskins and Chiefs etc since those nicknames are offensive to "Native Americans".

Confederate Mike
Confederate Mike

I'm sorry John, I completely forgot to add one more piece regarding your little article above...

Don't ever and I mean EVER compare the Nazi Germans to the Good Ole' Southern Boys. The Nazis wanted world domination and unlimited powers. They wanted to conquer all nations and litterally exterminate certain races of this world...The South however, simply wanted out and away from the Federalists. They simply wanted their independence and to be left alone. The Yanks were the ones to invade the South...HMMM, sounds similar to...The Nazis invading Poland and the rest of Europe...Read a few books and not just about The cause for Southern Independence, perhaps start by reading about World War I and II, then you'll have an understanding of the Nazi logic. Until then John...Shut your damn pie hole !!!

George
George

Please leave the United States of America...very few people want you around! If you dont like it in the US, get the hell out of my country!!

Confederate Mike
Confederate Mike

Hey Georgie, You first...

Southerners and folks who have Confederate Ancestors have every right to this country !!! What's the matter ? Can't read enough to discover the truth about your own country or are you just plain lazy and wish to believe in fairy tales ?

Open your eyes, you blind bat...There are many who feel EXACTLY like I do...And we're getting fed up with ignorant idiots like yourself who believe everything the Federalists shove down your throats.

Because of morons like you, The War of Northern Aggression still exists !

Deo Vindice !!!

Confederate Mike

Matt
Matt

I hope no anti-war bleeding heart liberal will get offended by Volunteers, Who am I kidding, They dont watch college sports or care for American War history.

D Stallings
D Stallings

Colonel Reb. or nothing. Screw the Black Bear!!!!!!!!!

Ken French
Ken French

The Black Bear isn't worth screwing!
Valleyrebel2

Natan
Natan

No one living was harmed by slavery. By evil since then, but not by slavery. Most everyone agrees it was wrong; there is no debate. So why continue to fuss about it? So you can avoid dealing with drug addiction, alcoholism, pornography, abortion, sex trafficking, rape, adultery, murder, fatherlessness?

This is the era of hypocites, where fingers continually point to the past but excuse responsibility for current moral disasters. Self-righteousness and blindness were never more widespread.

Evan
Evan

"No one living was harmed by slavery."

I'm sorry, but this is stunningly wrong. I think it would be very hard to find a black person in America today who isn't still being harmed by slavery. Or a white southerner for that matter. Big historical injustices like slavery have long legacies, that resonate for decades, if not centuries. You don't think the fact that blacks were brought here against their will, kept socially disconnected and repressed and taught few profitable skills, and then "freed" into a deeply racist society where they had no capital and could only occupy the lowest economic conditions doesn't explain at all why so many of them are still poor and socially marginalized today? History matters.

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