Rereading an Aug. 8, 1995 LL-C publisher’s position, “Don’t change the flag,” it states, “We do take issue with the removal of the state flag. …The majority of Mississippians are against the removal of the Confederate symbol from the state’s flag. …It … is part of the heritage of Mississippi — and a part of the past that should not be forgotten,” which is Whites’ perspective.
What should not be forgotten is that the 1894 flag symbolizes the 1890 Constitution disenfranchising the Negro along with lynchings, murders and torture. It symbolizes 1860 when slaves outnumbered White Mississippians, of whom 3,552 owned more than 30 slaves, who valued “two and one-half times the value of all the lands and other property.” And, “the loss of this slave property would make the people poor and reduce the value of their land.” That happened — $4 billion worth! And, the state flag symbolizes the vengeful hope that “the South will rise again” to Mississippi’s status of Jan. 9, 1861.
Now, reading Publisher Jim Cegielski’s column “Jumping into the flag fray,” May 19, 2018, the writer reflected back when Cegielski debuted with the LL-C, circa January 1996 as a so-called “humorist.”
In one of Jim’s earliest columns, identifying himself as “a transplanted New Jerseyan living in Laurel,” Cegielski said that it would take him 10 years to fully convert to a full-fledged “Southern Bubba — with the pickup with the gun and gun rack.”
Cegielski’s columns, with right-wing, ultra-conservative “Southern Bubba” leanings, did not set well with the writer in view of the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, where 169 people were killed, 680 injured, 324 other buildings damaged, 86 cars destroyed and other damages causing an estimated $652 million within a 16-block radius. This bombing was worse than any one day that the writer experienced in DaNang, Vietnam, in 1965-’66.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols perpetrated that dastardly disaster. McVeigh was linked to a militia group based in Michigan, where militia “men and women viewed government as the enemy, and who exhibit right-wing views.” Accordingly, perusing Cegielski’s columns, the writer aligned Jim with McVeighites — using the “duck theory.”
At the same time, Jones County Militia scheduled an April 28, 1995 meeting at the Calhoun Community Center, where Mark Koernke of the Michigan Militia was featured vicariously via a speaker who appeared stymied.
Since the meeting was advertised as “a public education meeting,” using county facilities, the writer asked Blacks to attend, to no avail. So the writer attended alone. As Sheriff Maurice Hooks stood along the wall, the writer took a seat by a familiar person, who instantly picked up his chair and moved, leaving the space vacant. So, Nikki Maute of the Hattiesburg American moved next to the writer, who, ostensibly, “threw a monkey wrench in the machinery.” The meeting did not go as planned. Upon adjourning, the speaker stated that future meetings possibly will be held in “a rented building.” Videos, “America in Peril” and “Call to Arms,” were not shown. With the meeting adjoourned, the writer appeared to be the only person leaving.
Of course, the writer “knew what time it was” as the LONE NEGRO knowing the climate and the terrain. A similar meeting had been held 2-10-95 at the Shady Grove Community Center. And, Cegielski’s “humor” — right-wing spiel — was repugnant.
So, in that context, eight months after the bombing, arcanely, Jim was writing extreme right-wing views, cloaked as “humor.” Blacks viewed his “humor” as racist, for example, his Feb. 25, 1996 column, “Just Say ‘No’ To Political Correctness,” expressing intolerance for concepts of “Blacks’ identity,” stating he was “…fed up….”
Now, 23 years later, Cegielski, a full-fledged “Southern Bubba,” writes: “I think political correctness is a dark, bottomless pit that never satisfies anyone, but only leads to the next ridiculous and insulting rebukes of ‘our traditions’ and the tarnishing of ‘our national and patriotic symbols.’” Jim adds, “…the progressive socialist left will begin the pursuit of banning all semi-automatic weapons … and so on until the Second Amendment is stricken from the constitution and the simple act of taking your son deer hunting is a thing of the past. It is simply the way the left works.” This quote is balkanization.
Here, Cegielski loudly cries wolf — demagoguing and inflaming right-wing intransigents. Manifesting Peter I. Rose’s phenomenon, “THEY AND WE,” Cegielski dichotomizes “left and right,” Blacks and Whites — precluding any middle ground — pandering to the 64.39 percent of Whites who voted for the divisive state flag, exacerbating race relations.
In early 1996, as Cegielski joined the LL-C and Managing Editor Hal Marx, they became LL-C’s Right-Wing of antebellum Southern propensities, of which now — with full plumage — Jim is LL-C’s head honcho.
In 1996, with Jim out-Bubba-ing Southern Bubbas, the writer opposed his views in light of the Oklahoma City bombing — aligning Jim with McVeigh and the National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP).
So, Cegielski dubbed the writer an “irate reader” who wrote “bizarre” letters in his “brief period in Laurel” in 1996, as he endeavored to impress Southern intransigents to gain full plumage. Now, in 2018, Jim champions antebellum Southern traditions and false patriotism as a protagonist in “Jumping into the flag fray.”
In 1996, the writer, a 1965-’66 DaNang, Vietnam, war veteran, gleaned Cegielski’s persona aligned with that of Timothy McVeigh’s in 1995, based on the writer’s “bunker experience” in DaNang, which, the writer wrote Feb. 27, 1996: “Based on the tone and spirit of Cegielski’s column, the disposition of the ‘angry white male,’ hidden implications are cloaked under the buzzword ‘political correctness,’” as the Militia Movement stirred.
Of course, views are at odds here. Ironically, in August 1998, the writer replied to Cegielski’s letter — rehashing clashes of opinions over his first four columns in 1996. The writer stated, “… I got you wrong…. Sorry!” But, upon query, painting the spots, did the leopard change?
Then, in 2000, Jim wrote “Anybody who votes for Al Gore is a ‘dumb-ass….’”
And, in 2001, vying for mayor of Laurel, Cegielski epitomized Machiavellian political shrewdness. Councilman Joseph Jones and bail bondsman James Dace worked in his campaign. During the primary, Jim had signs within 40 feet of the old Health Department, where the writer informed him of the violation, which he corrected. And, on May 21, Jim was televised standing with Black children and adults holding a Black baby in Brown Circle — amidst “welfare recipients, drug dealers, unwed mothers, gangs…” etc., endeavoring to garner “20 percent of Black votes” (dumb-ass DEMOCRATS).
Reflecting 20-odd years elucidates Cegielski “Jumping into the flag fray,” in that his “10-year” indoctrination has long-passed, as he has acculturated and assimilated into a full-fledged antebellum “Southern Bubba,” now echoing the LLC editorial position on Oct. 1, 1995 for “unyielding support” for the Confederate flag.
Harvey Warren lives in Laurel.