The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles voted 8-0 last Thursday to reject personalized license plates featuring the Confederate flag.
The vote came after two hours of public testimony from supporters and opponents of the bill.
The argument in favor of the plates said the plate were honoring soldiers who fought for the Confederate cause.
Supporters maintain that the Civil War for the South was a matter of defending the Constitution, not a battle of ideologies.
Defending the Constitution may have been one reason Texas engaged in the Civil War, but it was by no means the only reason. To deny that the Confederacy was fighting to defend the institution of slavery is insulting to everyone involved.
Opponents of the plates argued the Confederate flag has become a symbol synonymous with racism and discrimination in the South.
As a newspaper, we respect everyone’s right to free speech. That does not mean, however, a state needs to officially support a symbol that has become synonymous with a shameful part of our nation’s past.
The Ku Klux Klan also exercises in free speech, but few would argue for a license plate with the infamous hood emblazoned behind the numbers.
The men who fought under the Confederate flag had various reasons for doing so, and they should be recognized as veterans. But there are other ways to honor the men who served that do not involve such a racially charged symbol.
Museums, for example, can educate people on the history of the Confederacy through storytelling as opposed to just displaying a symbol.
The Austin American-Statesman reported that the commander of the Confederate Veterans Group in Texas said the group will most likely take the case to court, a strategy that has resulted in similar license plates being issued in three other states.
Currently such plates exist in nine of the 13 states that were members of the Confederacy.
Having shared in the nightmare of slavery does not mean Southern states should follow one another’s lead.
We are proud to say we belong to a state willing to vote against such a symbol.
If the Confederate Veterans Group continues to fight, we hope opponents will continue to show up and remind the South that we are better than our past.