UPDATE 8:00 p.m.: In the last two days “The Southern Cross” has gathered over 3,000 signatures on a Change.org petition asking Governor Greg Abbott to weigh in and stop the relocation of the Jefferson Davis statue. The comments appear to be coming from all over Texas and all over the country. Abbott’s email has likely been blowing up, that might be a fun FOIA to file…
K. Hawkins of Naples, TX writes: “I’m fed up with these people trying to take my rights as an American citizen. I’m also fed up with all this NAACP crap. I understand black lives matter but dammit white lives matter also.”
J. Kellum of Athens, AL writes: “What is next genocide of the white race because of what happened in history?”
P. Pressler of Metaire, LA writes: “Jefferson Davis was a gifted and noble American statesman and president…The statue should remain to educate students about an American president – is not UT a place of higher learning?
Texas Democratic Party Vice-Chair Fredericka Phillips issued the following statement:
“Democrats believe every Texan should feel welcome when they visit their State Capitol. These Confederate symbols belong in museums, where they can be placed in the proper historical context.
I want to thank our Democratic champions for bringing attention to this important issue. It is disappointing to see the silence of Republicans to a reasonable request.
Once again, the Texas Democratic Party joins our Democratic lawmakers in urging Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick to create a task force and follow UT’s leadership on Confederate symbols. Silence is not a solution.”
A GoFundMe page comparing UT students to ISIS is trying to raise $50,000 for “Southern Heritage Legal Research.” The page was started by Kirk Lyons a UT alum and the attorney for Sons of the Confederate Veterans. According to the comparison he is attempting to draw in his meme, it seems he forgot about that time US troops helped Iraqi civilians pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein?
Lyons claims to have found the “SMOKING GUN” to keep the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in place on the Main Mall of the University of Texas. But he also claims, “the statue is being removed and will be put in storage,” which is untrue, because last week UT President Greg Fenves decided to relocate the statue to the Briscoe Center museum as a part of a larger Confederate collection.
I initially thought the page was a parody, but apparently Lyons has been accused of trying to swindle paranoid racists out of their money before. His all caps tirade begging for supporters to “PLEASE GIVE & GIVE GENEROUSLY” reads as if it were preached by a televangelist Archie Bunker.
But Lyons has been successful in delaying the inevitable (like father like Sons I guess?). It appears he will get his day in court on August 27th in Travis County. But what good is a courtroom to someone who refuses to admit they’ve lost?
The attorneys for Sons of the Confederate Veterans are claiming (under Tex. Gov. Code 2166.5011) that President Fenves can not “unilaterally” decide to permanently relocate the statues. They say that act would require approval of the legislature, the Texas Historical Commission or the State Preservation Board. Well then, SCV should join in the call for Governor Greg Abbott to weigh in.
Gov. Abbott has a seat on the State Preservation Board, and is a UT alum, but So far has been silent on the issue, even though he spoke on campus just days after President Fenves made the announcement. Abbott has also ignored calls from Senator Rodney Ellis and other Democrats to appoint a task force to decide the fate of Confederate statues that litter the state capitol grounds.
Even the grandchild of Jefferson Davis says it’s time for him to come down.
Interestingly, Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated his first win in office with Democrats. Earlier this year the Supreme Court’s liberal justices, plus Clarence Thomas (the only black Supreme Court justice), ruled in favor of states’ rights (lolz), that license plates are government speech and the SCV did not have their rights violated when Texas refused to allow Confederate license plates. Paxton hasn’t said much since, but who could really blame him for trying to keep a low profile right at the moment?
— Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) June 18, 2015
But more on Lyons…
The South Poverty Law Center dedicates an entire web page to describing Lyons as a “white supremacist” who “has effectively become the legal arm of the neo-Confederate movement.” He has various connections to the Aryan Brotherhood, Neo-Nazis and the modern day Ku Klux Klan.
He claims that he is not racist but that, “anybody in Southern heritage is going to have to face that they’re going to be called a racist.” In other words he is just keeping it 100. He says he hasn’t “surrendered,” he is tired of being treated as a second class citizen, and blames Hollywood for perpetrating negative stereotypes.
There is an unbroken timeline of the Confederate battle flag protecting and representing white supremacists ideals, alongside continued racial strife in our country. How can we expect our elected officials will fight for criminal justice reform, and other historic racial inequalities when they can’t even face a statue and acknowledge what it stands for? Why would young people believe their vote mattered if it is just tossed by the wayside and not even worthy of a mention?
In Houston, the Conservative Republicans of Texas gathered to demonize the “homofascists,” and compare gays to Nazis that need to be ran out of the city, meanwhile, a guy who pals around with actual Neo-Nazis goes completely ignored promulgating hate as heritage.
The students at UT deserve the support of their highest ranking elected alum, and Texans deserve a Governor who can recognize the institutional struggles that are a living legacy of the Confederacy including the racial disparities in wealth, health, and education.
After being attacked this week by anti-Catholic evangelicals, Abbott should be tired of pandering to far-right extremists. But then he would have to reverse his stance on the discriminatory redistricting maps and the discriminatory Voter ID laws and address the assault on our history textbooks by the State Board of Education. I know that’s a lot to ask, so really that’s why the statue is so important. It may be symbol, but at least it would be a symbol of progress.
Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.