Given that this newspaper vigorously condemned Democrats and their mad scramble to embrace slavery reparations for African Americans last month, turnabout is surely fair play: Republican state Sen. Brandon Creighton’s bill regulating the removal of historical monuments statewide — first crafted amid a national resurgence of white supremacy and racial unrest in summer 2017 — is a charade to safeguard monuments glorifying individuals who in their own words fought to keep in bondage African Americans. Anyone who suggests otherwise is lying to himself and others.
We’re astonished that any lawmaker from the Party of Lincoln has the audacity to argue for this bill mere months after a committee of state officials, including the governor and lieutenant governor, voted unanimously to remove a wildly misleading “Children of the Confederacy Creed” plaque from the State Capitol. For 60 years this plaque informed visitors that slavery was not the cause of the Civil War in which some 620,000 Americans from the Union and Confederacy perished.
Creighton’s bill, which passed the Texas Senate last week with support from our own senator, Brian Birdwell, would require two-thirds of both legislative chambers to approve the removal, relocation or alteration of monuments or memorials on state property for more than 25 years. Fine so far. However, city or county monuments that have been in place at least 25 years could only be removed, relocated or altered if approved by a supermajority of the governing entity. Thus we have yet another case of glorious state overreach.
Creighton says his only motive is to protect history, all history. The problem is that monuments of Confederate heroes don’t tell history, they glorify the valor of individuals who, whatever else, violated their sacred oaths and took up arms against their countrymen. And as Sen. José Rodríguez noted during debate last week, many of these monuments were erected “during times of civil rights movements to further a white supremacist ideology and evoke fear among non-white races.” That’s history that too many of us would like to ignore or whitewash.
Committee testimony on the Creighton bill last month confirmed just that. Some testimony offered a robust defense of the secessionists (complete with revisionist history) and condemnation of Lincoln, including one individual who appeared in full Confederate military regalia. Vile language used to describe minorities, Sen. Rodríguez noted, demonstrated “this ideology has not yet been eradicated. This bill, however unintentionally, provides comfort to that ideology and hurt to those who suffer from it.”
Our take on monuments, schools, parks and streets named for Confederate heroes, or anyone or anything else, remains as it always has been: If the communities in which these are placed accept, tolerate or cherish them, all well and good. If a community finds the cause championed conflicts with community values, then that’s the business of that community and no one else, including our state overseers in Austin. Monuments of figures involved in the Confederacy might not attract so much attention and resentment today if more of us worked earnestly for equality and justice and condemned those who encourage the white supremacy and racial strife that presently afflict our nation.