Thoughts on the Texas Confederate license plate controversy

Recently, several legislators in Texas came out against a proposed license plate in Texas designed to denote a member of Sons of Confederate Veterans.Their opposition revolves around the organizational logo of SCV, which features the battle flag, and is used in the plate design. Keep in mind that our modern conception of the Confederate flag is actually the naval jack (you can see this in a 19th century engraving of the CSS Albemarle from the US Navy’s history website on Confederate vessels).

The SCV states that the proceeds from the plates will go to marking Confederate soldier graves, build monuments, and preserve artifacts. Texas considered the idea as we are beginning the 150th anniversary of the war, but the board that approves plate designs is deadlocked in a 4-4 tie, with another vote coming on Nov. 10. Several other states in the South have such plates and while attempts have been made to stop them, SCV has successfully sued and received approval.

Now, as a descendant of a Union veteran and a member of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW), I am wondering how many states now have or would adopt plates for our organization, as I would like to have one. I have no real problem with an SCV plate, so long as it is done in good taste, which looking at the design seems so. While Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee calls the flag a “symbol of intimidation”, it is an object and is only intimidating if used in that way and allowed to be intimidating. I do find it interesting that those speaking out against the plates seem to be only Democrats. What are their motivations for opposition beyond political disagreement?

While some aspects of the SCV do annoy me, they have the right to be recognized and share pride in their organization. I seriously doubt that too many people are going to pay that close of attention to an SCV license plate, as they should be focusing on the road. I hope other states will consider adopting some sort of commemorative plate for the 150th anniversary. What are your thoughts on this?

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6 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Texas Confederate license plate controversy

  1. Unfortunately, Texas is dealing with political correctness. There was an incident at a high school where I used to live where some high school boys bullied a black student and the bullies had a Confederate flag in their pickup truck window. The issue became about the flag rather than the reasons why the boys bullied the other kid. The school system banned the flag from school grounds, which, of course, did nothing to prevent any bullying. It reminds me of how an iconic picture of FDR smoking a cigarette sometimes gets photoshopped so there’s no cigarette. It doesn’t stop one person from smoking now.

    James Rada, Jr.

    • “The issue became about the flag rather than the reasons why the boys bullied the other kid.”

      So you’re saying there were legitimate reasons for the bullying?

      That’s funny.

  2. I agree with honoring veterans. This would be one way for a public dialogue-and an important history lesson-to be initiated. There will always be the terrible 10% who take lessons at being jerks. Maybe the Walter Washington Williams myth can be re-examined.

  3. You wonder why only Democrats oppose the notion, but Governor Perry, the most visible Republican from Texas, came out against it. http://tinyurl.com/6n9d6nw

    The commissioners voted unanimously to reject the design, and all of them were appointed by Governor Perry. I assume that means some or all of them are Republican.

    Your comment about Democratic motivations is curious. You may as well frame the question the other way around. What did Republicans you’re thinking of (who did not speak out against it) hope to gain, politically, from remaining neutral or embracing the proposal?

    • David,

      You raise an excellent point and thank you for the update, as I had missed it. Why I brought up the political affiliation was because there was no evidence in the article noting the controversy of any Republican politicians coming out against the plate, which caused me to question the motives of those speaking out against it given how folks on both sides of the political spectrum may fall on the issue. I had the impression that opposition largely from one side of the aisle might be more politically driven than otherwise.

      Now, Perry’s opposition is interesting, as while it would seem to frame the issue in more of a moral field than a political, I also do wonder if he came out against it to score points and avoid attacks since he is running for President. You mention that the commission voted unanimously to reject the design, which I had not heard about. I appreciate that update and will look for it soon to post. Again thanks for the information and your comment.

  4. If the state is going to allow specialty plates for legitimate organizations, then the SCV should (and will) get their plate. The SCV is a legally recognized, 501-C(3), non-profit entity. Legal precedent is on the side of the SCV and against those who would suppress their right of free expression. This is nothing more than political correctness and efforts by the speech and thought police to deny free expression. There is no “right” to “not be offended.” The courts, thus far, have been consistent in ruling in favor of the SCV on the license plate issues and other issues similar to this. Legal precedent is on their side. If you don’t like the plate then don’t look at it.

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