Texas state officials are deciding whether or not to offer a Confederate Flag option for state license plates. As with any controversial issue, there has been significant backlash. Proponents of placing the symbol on license plates cite historical pride and recognizing the bravery and strength of their ancestors, for whom the flag served as a beacon of hope in a time when their rights and union were threatened. Opponents point to the flag’s use as a symbol of racial pride and white supremacy as reason enough to ban it from appearing on any license plates.
The battle over the Confederate flag and its place in American history is a long and complicated one. First used as a battle flag for the Confederate Army, the flag has evolved into a symbol of the racial bigotry and racial strife that has long plagued this country.
There is no shame in admitting that the Confederate flag, a lasting vestige of the war that divided America, still evokes feelings of pain and to some extent fear. Let’s just be honest with ourselves. As much as that flag represents the undying spirit of white southern pride and nationalism, it represents the undying spirit of fear of that same white southern pride and nationalism; the same fear that has been inculcated and bred into Blacks who have been terrorized, dehumanized and denied citizenship by those who flew that flag so proudly.
I stick by the sentiment I expressed over a year ago, that by displaying such symbols, people are in a way subscribing to the history, both good and bad of said symbol.
I guess the bottom line is that it is just a symbol, and symbols derive their meaning from the people who brandish them and even more so from those who are subjected to them unwittingly. As such, I’ll have to agree with the following quote from a Houston Chronicle editorial.
“A license plate isn’t a bumper sticker. It’s not a pure exercise in an individual’s right to proclaim whatever he or she believes; it officially represents the state of Texas. And an official representation shouldn’t offend so many Texans so deeply.”