GOP Senators Say Mississippi Statues at U.S. Capitol, State’s Flag, Are State’s Business

By Penny Starr

Republican Senators from Mississippi were pressed to speak about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) letter to the Joint Committee on the Library on June 10 asking that 11 statues of Confederate soldiers be removed from the U.S. Capitol.

WJTV in Jackson, Mississippi asked GOP Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith about Pelosi’s effort and whether or not they also stood by the state’s flag, which has a field with the Confederate flag design:

12 News reached out to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) about whether he’s in favor of removing Mississippi’s statues in the U.S. Capitol building.

Wicker said, “It would be a mistake for Congress to remove statues placed in the U.S. Capitol by Mississippi or any state. In my view, such an overreach would be counterproductive to the healthy conversations on race happening across the country. Under federal law, state governments are solely responsible for selecting and replacing the statues that represent their states.”

When asked about the flag, Wicker told the news outlet that he stands by his 2015 statement on the subject:

After reflection and prayer, I now believe our state flag should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying to all Mississippians. As the descendant of several brave Americans who fought for the Confederacy, I have not viewed Mississippi’s current state flag as offensive. However, it is clearer and clearer to me that many of my fellow citizens feel differently and that our state flag increasingly portrays a false impression of our state to others.

In I Corinthians 8, the Apostle Paul said he had no personal objection to eating meat sacrificed to idols. But he went on to say that “if food is a cause of trouble to my brother, or makes my brother offend, I will give up eating meat.” The lesson from this passage leads me to conclude that the flag should be removed since it causes offense to so many of my brothers and sisters, creating dissension rather than unity.

This is an issue to be decided by the legislature and other state government officials and not dictated by Washington. If I can be part of a process to achieve consensus within our state, I would welcome the opportunity to participate.

Hyde-Smith gave 12 News a statement on these issues:

I appreciate the views of all Mississippians, and hope to continue Mississippi’s forward momentum. Should the people of Mississippi and their elected leaders decide to begin the process of finding a more unifying banner that better represents all Mississippians and the progress we have made as a state, I would support that effort.

There are clear rules and procedures set for the designation, receipt, and placement of statues in the United States Capitol. Any state, including Mississippi, can avail itself to that process if it wants to exchange statues. How to best depict the history of our nation is always up for debate, but it is not the role of Congress to dictate to states which statues should be placed in the Capitol.