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In a lot of ways

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PostWysłany: Śro 2:18, 20 Paź 2010    Temat postu: In a lot of ways

Rebel: someone who, having been defeated, 'makes war again' against his conquerors. The word comes via Old French rebelle from Latin rebellis, an adjective formed from the prefix re- 'again' and bellum 'war' (source of English bellicose 15th c.) and belligerent.
In a lot of ways, Ole Miss nowadays is new.
A former president of the university, R. Gerald Turner, started a stoppage to the waving of Confederate flags at Ole Miss games back in 1997 and eventually introduced a new banner for Ole Miss fans called the Battle M. He also requested that the marching band cease playing "Dixie."
Last year, the school made the band stop playing the fight song "From Dixie With Love" to discourage a chant from fans, "The South will rise again."
And the other day, the school announced it found a new mascot to replace Colonel Reb, a white-haired, white-mustachioed character with a wide-brimmed hat described as representing the Southern gentlemen, but looking every bit like the Southern plantation owner who was no gentlemen to Africans he enslaved (pictured below).
The new mascot Ole Miss unveiled is a bear, a black bear. The university announced it is called Rebel Black Bear.
Rebel. Ole Miss people just can't help themselves.
The Civil War ended almost a century and a half ago. The Union, thank goodness, won. The Confederacy, which was rebelling against the North in part for what it thought was its right to continue to hold other human beings in brutal bondage, lost.
Who or what is anyone connected with University of Mississippi athletics in particular, or any other college or high school holding onto the nickname rebel or facsimile thereof, rebelling against in the 21st century?
Why can't Ole Miss drop its celebration of a defeated, dead and dead-wrong system of living that was torturous for those under its heel?
What was wrong with Ole Miss simply calling its new mascot Black Bear and transforming its sports teams from Rebels to Black Bears?
The decision makers in Oxford, Miss., pointed out that the new mascot harkened to a novella written by one of its greatest sons, William Faulkner. It's called "The Bear," not "The Rebel Bear."
I read quite a few classic Faulkner novels years ago – "The Sound and the Fury," "As I Lay Dying," "Light in August," "Absalom, Absalom!" – under the tutelage of an English professor and fine writer in his own right, the late Leon Forrest. I didn't make it to "Go Down, Moses,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych]," in which "The Bear" is tucked. But a quick reading of several synopsis of "The Bear" suggest it is everything about breaking from the destructive past of the antebellum South that was a slave-owning society and nothing about reliving it.
Rebel doesn't fit it and the tag continues to ill suit Ole Miss and every other institution of learning using it.
"As you can start to tell from my accent, I'm not a southerner," the journalist and historian Nadine Cohodas told me Friday when I called her to talk about Ole Miss's latest attempt to divorce itself from old South imagery. "But there are deep feelings there."
Cohodas knows Ole Miss particularly well and the psyche of the South in general. After being Sen. Strom Thurmond's biographer in 1993, she wrote "The Band Played Dixie: Race and the Liberal Conscience at Ole Miss" in 1997.
Among the interesting things her history of Ole Miss points out is that Ole Miss's symbols of the old South aren't so old at all. The symbols that made so many of my ilk, and those who sympathize with us, feel uncomfortable at best and angry at worst -- the Confederate battle flag, the team nickname "Rebels," and the playing of "Dixie" as an unofficial school anthem -- were not traditions born off Civil War battlefields. Instead, they were born out of segregationist Southern politics of the middle 20th century.
For example,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], the waving of the Confederate flag, she points out, as well as the playing of "Dixie," were added to football games in 1948, a year after Jackie Robinson was allowed to re-integrate Major League Baseball. More pointedly, that was the year Thurmond led his "Dixiecrats" revolt at the Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia as the party nominated President Harry Truman and adopted a pro civil-rights platform. The same thing happened in subsequent years at other state institutions across the South, like in Georgia,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], where the state added Confederate battle flag imagery to the Georgia pennant in direct defiance of federal integration orders.
The most important thing at Ole Miss is, of course, offering higher education to the state's youth, and since James Meredith in 1962 successfully punched a hole in the school's color barrier that has been true for sons and daughters of slaves as well as of the Confederacy's aristocracy. Cohodas noted that 14 percent of the school's student body is now black.
"It (old South images) didn't deter Michael Oher," Cohodas said of the black Ole Miss football lineman chronicled by Michael Lewis in his 2006 best-selling book "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" that became the 2009 Oscar-winning movie "The Blind Side."
Cohodas posited that the fact black students are choosing Ole Miss to further their educations and hone their athletic skills suggests that the university's offensive dated symbolism isn't as offensive as it was, and that efforts to sanitize the past have slowly but surely helped the school's appearance and appeal.
Cohodas also allowed: "Even with all of this, it is still a training ground for the power structure and it is part of the ethos of the South. People have been able to keep this thing alive."
We'd all be better served if they stamped out these last embers for good. The outlawed Confederacy was long ago extinguished.

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