Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

___

June 3

The Oxford Eagle on the recent vandalism of a confederate monument on the University of Mississippi campus:

The vandalism of the confederate monument on the University of Mississippi campus was a bleak affair – one that could have been prevented, had the Institutes of Higher Learning Board of Trustees made any effort to approve its relocation once and for all.

Instead, the IHL Board has kicked the proverbial can down the road for four months, their thinly veiled excuse for not acting being that they need “more information” from Ole Miss before discussing the topic further. Newsflash: When every other organization/state entity has given their approval on a matter, a request for “more information” seems like a cop-out.

The IHL Board is not comprised of elected officials. No one has a say in who serves on the board aside from the Governor and, regardless of whether you personally agree with his policies or not, it’s a fair bet to say the members of the Board do not represent or serve the interests of ALL Mississippians.

Board member Tom Duff originally made the motion to table the statue relocation discussion back in January 2020. In the same meeting, the IHL approved to rename the STEM building on the UM campus, which has yet to begin construction.

The Board voted to name it the “Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation.” The Duffs have committed a $26 million donation to the school. It doesn’t take a genius to realize the timing of Duff’s request to table the discussion and the timing of the donation are suspect, at best.

Still, the IHL Board has held multiple meetings since January, during which the statue relocation was never a topic of discussion.

While the EAGLE Editorial Board has published its fair share of criticism of UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce, we wholeheartedly agree with his weekend statement: “Change means moving the monument away from the center of campus.” Blame for the statue’s current placement cannot be laid on his shoulders.

The monument, although not originally placed in the spirit of malice, has devolved into just that: a beacon of hatred.

Relocating the statue won’t rid the Ole Miss campus of hate, but it will give its beacon a less prominent place to shine.

There are channels in which the statue relocation can be handled in a peaceful manner, avoiding further destruction as has been seen in cities like Birmingham, Ala., where protesters in a mob mentality have attempted to tear down statues and circumvent processes in place for the redress of their grievances.

The statue’s fate is in the hands of the IHL, and we implore them to make the right decision.

Online: https://www.oxfordeagle.com

___

May 29

The Vicksburg Post on individual responsibility to protect against the coronavirus as formal restrictions are eased:

When all of the excuses are removed, there’s no one left to blame but yourself.

Since restrictions, curfews and shutdowns started being ordered in mid-March in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, citizens — and rightfully so sometimes — have complained.

When freedom is not just at the foundation but is the foundation on which our country and society are built, any restriction of freedoms — whether real or perceived — is not well received.

But as the restrictions that were placed over the past two-plus months begin to be lied, in its place is responsibility; specifically personal responsibility.

Local, state and national leaders — on the advice of health officials — put restrictions, guidelines and curfews in place with the goal of slowing the spread of the virus. It worked. But those restrictions, guidelines and curfews were only temporary.

What remains, and what will remain far longer, is the fact that the fight against this virus will only be won when each person takes the responsibility to do what is necessary, to take the steps needed to not just protect themselves, but others. It is no longer about me, but we.

Social distancing has proven to work. Masks have proven to work. And by adhering to the policies and guidelines that remain, we will continue to both flatten the curve and slow the virus in our community, our county, our state and our nation.

At this point, there is no one left to blame if these measures do not work, because these measures depend on the individual, depend on us.

While we head to the stores, movie theaters and ballparks, remember the basics. Remember social distancing is still needed, masks are encouraged and proper hygiene a given.

There will be a point and me when we look back on COVID-19. Let us not look back and have no one other than ourselves to blame.

Online: https://www.vicksburgpost.com

___

May 28

The Dispatch on the need to improve broadband internet access in Mississippi communities:

In any major crisis, the weaknesses of a nation’s infrastructure are exposed in ways that cannot be ignored. That’s certainly the case with COVID-19, which has exposed troubling deficiencies in many areas.

Among those deficiencies is the lack of broadband internet access in many communities throughout our nation and, in particular, in Mississippi, which ranks 42nd in the nation in broadband access.

That’s hardly a secret. In Mississippi, we’ve known for years our state is seriously lacking in this area. What’s different now, is that we are beginning to understand the serious implications of that deficit. When Gov. Tate Reeves ordered the state’s schools to be closed, the shift to online teaching exposed a serious problem. Forty-percent of the state has no broadband access and a quarter-million residents in the state have no internet access of any kind. When schools shifted to online classes, thousands of children faced the prospects of being left behind.

With the continuing uncertainty about when schools will reopen, there’s a real possibility that we may have to continue to rely on online classes.

It is an issue that commands immediate attention and we are pleased to see some real momentum growing for addressing this long-ignored need.

On May 28 in Washington, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D, South Carolina) and Rep. Fred Upton (R, Michigan) were set to hold a conference call to discuss H.R. 7022, aka, The Rural Broadband Acceleration Act, a bi-partisan bill designed to fund “shovel-ready” broadband expansion projects throughout the nation.

The conference call also included Brandon Presely, Mississippi’s greatest champion for broadband access expansion, in his role as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

Presley will undoubtedly provide great insight on this subject. For several years, he’s fought to expand broadband in the state, pushing legislation through the Mississippi Legislature a year ago that would permit utility co-ops in the state to provide broadband access to areas that private internet providers considered not cost-efficient. Since then, several co-ops have already started the process of providing broadband service. Locally 4-County Electric Power Association is considering the matter, albeit very tentatively.

We believe the time to strike is now. Before COVID-19, there was $20 billion in federal funds to help expand rural broadband access. In the wake of federal emergency funding to help fund recovery from COVID-19, billions more may soon be available.

As part of the CARES Act funding of a month ago, Mississippi has more than $800 million in recovery funds available to be dispersed. The Mississippi Department of Education has requested $300 million of that money to provide every Mississippi school child with a laptop or tablet computer.

Without high-speed internet access, those devices will be of little value.

Broadband access, like access to electricity 100 years ago, is no longer a luxury. It is an essential service.

It’s time to recognize the urgency of this need and act without delay.

Online: https://www.cdispatch.com