State Sen. Chris McDaniel met many questions at a meeting of the Our State Flag Foundation Thursday night.
The senator spoke to around 70 students and community members about police brutality, Confederate symbolism at the university and the removal of the state flag from campus in October 2015.
“My position on the state flag is as long as it’s our state flag, it needs to fly,” McDaniel said. “Ole Miss is a state institution … A state institution has the responsibility to fly the state flag.”
McDaniel criticized the contextual plaque recently placed on the Confederate memorial in the Circle, saying the issue was too complex for a single plaque to explain.
“I’ve never understood the need for plaques and things like that. We can all read, can’t we? We’re all capable adults. There are books and libraries. I’ve never understood the need to rewrite history,” McDaniel said. “You want a university to foster creativity, but safe spaces and trigger points and all these accusations don’t foster creativity. It suppresses creativity. I don’t think I’m asking too much. It’s just for the whole community to be heard.”
McDaniel said many people place too much trust in the federal government.
“There are politicians in this country who want to divide you based on race. There are groups of politicians in this country who want to divide you based on gender. They need you to feel disempowered. They want to you to feel disempowered so you need to depend on them to feel empowered. It’s the oldest trick in the book, and people are falling for it. And it’s tearing this country apart.”
McDaniel’s points were largely supported by the crowd, though there were some who raised questions against his stances.
McDaniel said his main objective was to listen to the speakers, not argue with them.
“The point is, history is complex and it should be discussed,” McDaniel said. “If you’re going to contextualize one, then you’re going to need to contextualize everything, and if governments start doing that, there’s an expense factor, and there’s also a factor of ‘Who gets to contextualize? Who gets to make the ultimate call?’”