Ole Miss football begins the 2019 season in two weeks but there is a major focus on issues off the field in Oxford.
I remember the trek across campus as if it were yesterday. The elevator at The Stockyard (Stockard Hall) would empty all the freshmen boys out onto what is likely the lowest point on campus. Out to the sidewalk and you were right across from the Pi-Phi and Chi-O sorority houses, then up the hill on Rebel Drive and a left just past the AOPi house. That would put you on Student Union Drive, where you’d get a brief reprieve of flat earth until you got to the hill alongside the Student Union.
Ole Miss Rebels
Once you made it to the top and past the Union, it was downhill across The Grove on a stretch of sidewalk that would eventually become The Walk of Champions. (Back in my day it was just a sidewalk.) Once across The Grove and at University Blvd., it was a quick right in front of Ventress and then across University Blvd. to Shoemaker. Ahhh, Biology 101. As I live and breathe. It was that last little jaunt across University Boulevard where I would get my daily glance at the statue in question. To be honest, never in my four years at Ole Miss did I actually stop and take the time to really look at this small piece of history. (Like it or not, it IS a piece of history.) I remember what it looked like, of course, but I suspect I’m probably like the other 99% of people who walked by it and never did anything more than take a quick glance or maybe read the epitaph. I certainly never bothered to remember when it appeared, where it came from or why it was there. I guess I probably had my mind on other things, the least of which would have been Dr. Lago’s Biology class.
If recent history is any indication, the soldier depicted in the statue appears to be headed for a new home. Most likely, it seems, to watch over the graves of other passed soldiers of the Civil War at the Confederate Cemetery. I’m sure those clamoring for his removal will be happy putting this soldier just about anywhere else, so long as they can claim a proverbial win over those who want it left alone. Some may take solace in knowing that he won’t be completely destroyed but nonetheless his presence will be effectively eliminated from campus. – Boom. History erased…Right?
Now even though this statue is probably one of the least significant things that have been removed from campus in the last couple of decades, it’s removal seems to be at the center of certain issues that continue to beleaguer our beloved university. Most notably, leadership.
As I’m sure most will recall, we had to give up our flags because Tommy Tubba-crap claimed that he couldn’t recruit players with it in the stands. Then our mascot, Colonol Reb, was removed from campus. Then, to add insult to injury, they tried to force that stupid bear on us. (Need I even mention this ridiculous looking shark-figure?) They followed that masterpiece of a decision up with not allowing the band to play From Dixie With Love and now they won’t even fly the flag of the great state of Mississippi on campus. Is this nonsense ever going to end?
A Clearer Picture
Let’s be honest here. Moving this statue doesn’t have anything to do with being insensitive to others or racism or football recruiting or anything else like that. It has to do with political ideologies. The Left and the Right. The Red and the Blue. The Democrats and the Republicans. The Dumb and the Dumber.
Identity politics has become an American epidemic. People are so infected with it that they will abandon all rhyme and reason just to make sure everyone knows which side of the aisle they prefer. It’s now more important to be labeled as liberal or conservative than it is to make a rational decision on your own. Holiday gatherings with the family now end with Aunt Marla storming out of the house because Dad won’t stop calling her a tree-hugging liberal.
You can’t so much as drive down the street without seeing some idiot on the side of the road holding up a sign claiming that Donald Trump is to blame for all the world’s woes. Gone are the days when we could all put our differences aside, gather in the Grove and toast a cold one to the Ole Miss Rebels football team. Now we have to sit there and hear about some idiot professor who wants to play with other people’s food. I mean…seriously?
Both political parties have done anything and everything they can to infect anyone and everyone. Now the ridiculousness has wrapped its filthy hands around my alma mater’s athletics teams and tried to turn them into something that I can’t even recognize.
As of this writing, it appears that there is a large amount of self-loathing going on among certain groups at Ole Miss, most notably the faculty. The desire of these groups to somehow imply that the removal of history and tradition is a means of reparation for days gone by seems to overshadow the wishes of the majority of the school and of the people of this great state.
The majority will stay silent, of course, because any attempt to fight pressure put on by these groups only results in the type of bullying and name-calling that these people claim to be against in the first place. All I can say is Lord help that poor professor if he ever tries to put his hands in my food.
Some Decisions are Simple
Pointedly, our current issue is leadership. More specifically, why can’t the people charged with leading our alma mater make decisions that are in the best interests of the state, it’s citizens and it’s flagship University? Every time something new pops up, we’re right back at square one with our leaders screaming “mea culpa” and doing whatever they can to pacify another group of people who got their feelings hurt. It’s getting old. Really old.
The most disconcerting part of this entire mess is the fact that our leadership has repeatedly failed to adequately address the concerns put on by these groups. Otherwise, the topics would quit coming up! They seem to always take some of the most simple decisions and screw them up in the worst way possible.
Take the flag, for instance. As much as I’d like to say that Mr. Tubba-crap was wrong, he was right about the flag needing to go. It WAS hindering recruiting and something needed to be done. – So think about the decision that the administration had to make. Did they explore alternatives? Was the best option really to just ban all flags?
My suggestion would have been to keep the flags but change what was on them. Waving flags in the stands was something that was unique to Ole Miss. We brought our flags to games and we waved them in support of our team (and used them to stir our drinks!). So I’d have simply put a two or three year plan into place by which we’d have replaced the Confederate battle flag with something different. Maybe a red flag with that block “M” in the middle. Then maybe the opposite with a blue flag. These days a powder blue flag would have surfaced by now.
Eventually, we could have put the no-no out for anyone bringing those old battle flags and they have eventually disappeared. Yes, I know that some would have fought it, there’s always some who fight change no matter what. My only point here is that there were better options available and the administration just made a bad decision. Same thing they seem to do every time someone pushes their political hot-topic button. Here’s to hoping that a new Chancellor will at least have enough sense to think about the implications of change before he makes a decision.
There was a time when they told us that getting rid of our traditions was going to lead to us winning an SEC Football Championship. Well, they’ve taken just about everything they can get their hands on so far and I’ve yet to see that SEC Championship trophy appear. Maybe this statue will do the trick! (deliberate eye roll)
Personally speaking, I’m done with the promises from our administration. It’s time for them to give something back to the fans. I mentioned the flags already. They know what we’ve lost in tradition so maybe they could come up with something on their own. There’s talk that Keith Carter may end up with the permanent gig in the athletics building. He’s one of us, so maybe he will lend a better perspective to the new Chancellor about how to handle dwindling support from the alumni. They’d better do something soon.
What say you, reader? If you could have one of our old traditions back or if you could make a change with regard to the university, what would you choose? I’d love to read your suggestions in the comments section below!