Editorial Roundup: Mississippi

Greenwood Commonwealth. May 17, 2022.

Editorial: A Plan For Angry White Men

Whenever a racially motivated crime attracts national attention, it’s not too hard to find a link that involves Mississippi.

And sure enough, after this past weekend’s reprehensible attack at a grocery store in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo, N.Y., where an 18-year-old is accused of killing 10 people and wounding three others, a story in The Washington Post noted that U.S. Sen. Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi once made the same warped claim as Payton Gendron, the Buffalo shooter, allegedly did — that a “great replacement theory” exists to remove white people in favor of immigrants of other races.

As you will see, there is no need for a liberal theory or strategy or secret plan to change the white-majority population in America. White people of all ages and political persuasions are doing this by themselves.

Meanwhile, the story about Bilbo is a reminder of what a hateful demagogue, and embarrassment to this state, he really was. Bilbo was governor twice before serving in the Senate from 1935-47. He won a third term in 1946, but criticism of his politics was growing across the country, and he never got sworn in before dying of cancer in August 1947.

Bilbo detailed his beliefs in his 1947 book “Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization.” He called for sending the descendants of slaves back to Africa and said mixed-race societies “cannot maintain a culture.”

He said the white race was in jeopardy in America, predicting that in nine generations, or about 300 years, there would be no white or Black people — only yellow or brown.

Bilbo is lucky he died when he did. If the cancer hadn’t killed him, the civil rights movement in the 1950s and the extension of voting rights to Southern Blacks in the 1960s surely would have. But, as we saw once again over the weekend, the hateful, racist ideas that Bilbo promoted still have some virulent adherents.

The thing is, if this 18-year-old man-child is guilty of these crimes in Buffalo, he didn’t attack the group that’s the biggest so-called “threat” to white America. He was shooting at Black people, but the Hispanic population is growing far more rapidly.

Black women in 2019 delivered 548,000 babies in the U.S. But Hispanic women gave birth to 886,000 babies that same year, continuing a trend that makes Hispanics the country’s most rapidly growing minority population.

The reason, though, that whites are on path to become a minority in the United States is not because of some secret plot by Black or brown people. It’s because whites have made the conscious choice to have fewer children.

In 2000, white women gave birth to 3.2 million babies. In 2019, though, they had only 1.9 million.

Here’s a plan for white men who are radically fearful about a plot to eliminate their race: Get an education. Then get a job. Manage your finances to live on your own and prove that you can take care of yourself. Find other hobbies besides surfing the internet or playing video games all night.

And then, at work, church, an online dating site — wherever! — find a compatible woman, marry her and start having children. Two parents need a minimum of three kids in order to increase the population.

Be forewarned: Fatherhood will demand a lot of your time and money for many years. To do it right, you have to be a dad, not just the guy who was in the room at conception.

In a normal world it would be reward enough to raise good kids who become successful adults. But if the idea of “preventing a minority takeover” is what motivates you, live that dream.

Seriously: This plan creates lives. It does not end them. It’s so much better than randomly firing a gun at innocent people.

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Tupelo Daily Journal. May 15, 2022.

Editorial: Time for Mississippi to close Parchman, build new state penitentiary

Mississippi is once again facing a probable federal lawsuit, this time as the result of significant issues with the Department of Corrections’ management of the Mississippi State Penitentiary.

The U.S. Department of Justice released a report last month detailing what it called “severe, systematic” conditions at Parchman, as the state prison is commonly known. These problems have been “exacerbated by serious deficiencies in staffing and supervision,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said.

The DOJ report found that only 206 out of 417 officer positions at Parchman have been filled. And while funding is part of the issue, it is by far not the only one. Located in a sparsely populated Delta region within Sunflower County, Parchman is a decrepit facility that struggles to recruit workers despite increasing levels of pay in recent years thanks to efforts by Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain and the Legislature.

The likely reality is that Parchman cannot be fixed. Instead, it is time to look at building a new state penitentiary somewhere else, leveraging regional facilities and investing more money in diversion programs to help lower incarceration rates.

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, during an editorial board meeting with the Daily Journal this month, called the future of Parchman “an economic decision.”

“Parchman is horrific,” Hosemann said. “Whether or not it can be maintained is problematic to me. I will just tell you we’ve got a lot of money right there. We have difficulty with staffing. Of course, we have a lot of outmigration in the Delta.”

If not the first, Hosemann is surely the highest profile state leader to publicly raise the possibility that it is time to move beyond Parchman. He said closing the Delta prison and building a new facility elsewhere is “on the table” for him.

Of course, strides have been made at Parchman. Since being appointed by Gov. Tate Reeves in 2020, Cain has instituted several changes, including moving some inmates to another facility, seeking and securing additional funding for prison personnel pay raises, and instituting rehabilitation programs. But while these changes have not gone unnoticed by the DOJ, they are almost assuredly not enough.

Come June 8, the deadline triggered by the DOJ report release, the feds are expected to file suit against Mississippi. That will begin a long and costly ordeal. How long and how costly, however, will be determined by how state leaders respond to the report and the efforts they undertake to address the systematic issues plaguing Parchman.

And the first step taken should be down a path that ultimately leads us away from Parchman.

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Columbus Dispatch. May 12, 2022.

Editorial: Starkville expands pre-K capacity; state should too

Older readers may remember a time when education began at age 6 with the first grade.

Even today, only 17 states require 5-year-olds to attend kindergarten. Mississippi is not among that group, although the state requires all public schools to provide full-day kindergarten.

Given that, it should be no surprise that Mississippi’s response to pre-K education has lagged.

In 1967, the federal government established Head Start, which provided early education for low-income children, but the demand for the program far exceeds the budget. In Mississippi, the state legislature started its own taxpayer-funded pre-K program in 2013 called the Early Learning Collaborative, but only recently has the state started making a serious investment in the program. In both the 2021 and 2022 sessions, the legislature increased funding for the program by $8 million. As a result, one quarter of Mississippi 4-year-olds have access to no-cost pre-K.

In Mississippi, the “head start” pre-K provides has been more like a “slow start” in a state that has chronically underfunded public education.

Even so, there is a real momentum growing for pre-K access. Awareness of the impact of early education programs has grown with study after study noting that kids in early learning programs not only outperform those who don’t, but see the benefits well into adulthood. Pre-K kids are more likely to graduate high school, less prone to teen pregnancy, less likely to become involved in criminal behavior and have a higher standard of living as an adult.

As the state increases funding for pre-K, some school districts have made it a higher priority than others.

The Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District is among those districts who are continuing to build on their pre-K program to make it more widely available, especially for low income students who cannot afford tuition for private pre-K programs.

This week, the SOCSD Board of Trustees approved an expansion of its Early Learning Collaborative Program by opening another ELC class to accommodate an additional 20 4-year-olds at Sudduth Elementary. The district will have 13 ELC classrooms when the new school year begins in the fall. Between the federal Head Start, the tuition-funded ELC at Emerson School and this expansion of no-cost ELCs at Sudduth and West, the district has 260 children enrolled in pre-K.

That’s a significant local commitment, which should be applauded, especially considering just 25% of the state’s 4-year-olds are enrolled in a pre-K program.

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