Gov. Sonny Perdue's effort to placate some of his supporters about the state flag issue is vague and worthless.

Perdue said Georgia should have a nonbinding referendum, which means the Legislature could still do what it wants to do regardless of how a majority votes. Perdue also would not say which flag we would vote for or against, and when this vote would happen. One thing is for sure: President Bush doesn't want it on the ballot next year when he is up for re-election.

Perdue also still refuses to divulge his personal view of the new state flag, railroaded through the General Assembly by Gov. Barnes and a majority of legislators two years ago, or the old one, pushed through the same government body in 1956.

Georgia was one of the last states displaying a large Confederate cross as part of its flag when it was changed in 2001. The symbol may be venerated by heritage groups, but it had been turned into a racist hate symbol by others.

The late Rep. Denmark Groover of Macon admitted the flag was changed decades ago as a symbol of the all-white Legislature's dismay with the federal government's decision to force school integration. In 2001, although no longer in the Legislature, he helped to get rid of it.

Perdue said the other week that a referendum was the only way Georgia can move on. The Republican governor says he thinks the people of Georgia need this to heal.

Regardless of the outcome, healing is the last thing this referendum will accomplish. It's more likely to bring further dissent, racist rhetoric and acrimony. And it's going to cost taxpayers' money as well. Voters might not like the way the flag was changed -- it was a legislative hustle for sure -- but elected officials, both black and white, and business leaders felt it was the best way to get Georgia moving ahead.

Right now, it looks like we're getting ready to step back and possibly fall as well.



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