Judge: Virginia Can Ban Future Confederate License Plates

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Confederate flag controversy puts UNC Charlotte professor in limelight.

An injunction 14 years ago prevented the state from banning the flag on license plates, but the new Supreme Court decision allowed Judge Jackson Kiser to give the state the authority to ban it. “This ruling will allow Virginia to remove a symbol of oppression and injustice from public display on its license plates,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement Friday. “Virginia state government does not have to and will not endorse such a divisive symbol. It took two days after the Charleston shootings for David Goldfield’s office phone to begin ringing nonstop, but he knew the media eventually would come calling.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) had fired back against the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) plan to replace the group’s vanity license plates featuring the Confederate flag. I appreciate Governor McAuliffe’s leadership in calling for the removal of the flag and those on my team who moved quickly to get it done.” There are about 1,600 license plates bearing the symbol. On July 30, 1864, 151 years ago today, a clever plan by northern (or Union) forces to defeat southern rebels (or Confederates) in the American Civil War had a sickening result. Following the June 17 massacre, Goldfield, a UNC Charlotte history professor and Civil War expert, has spent many of his hours in front of cameras, behind microphones and on his telephone talking with journalists. “It started Friday,” said Goldfield. “The first ones were CNN and ABC News.” National Geographic, ESPN, the BBC and a flurry of others followed, their questions centered around the Confederate battle flag.

At the town of Petersburg, Virginia, Union engineers dug under the Confederate lines and set off an explosive charge powerful enough to leave a mammoth crater. On June 17, 21-year-old Dylann Roof opened fire inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, killing nine parishioners in the historic African-American church. However, the infantry assault meant to exploit the blast was botched, with many troops becoming trapped in the crater, and the Union suffered about 3,800 casualties for no gain. Based on an enormous amount of historical evidence, southern leaders urged secession and rebellion in response to what they believed to be a threat to the institution of slavery.

Worse, according to Civil War historian Noah Andre Trudeau, up to a hundred of those losses involved black soldiers who fell into Confederate hands and were then murdered. Journalists began calling Goldfield to inquire about the flag’s history and to try to understand the emotions the images evoked among flag opponents and supporters. The ruling will not be official until Kiser enters his order, addressing whether the decision will only apply to new plates or will also apply to existing ones.

The suspect in the shootings was photographed posing with a Confederate flag. “The judge today agrees that Texas case governs going forward, but was unclear about retroactive application”, said Tobias, who expects other federal judges to find the ruling persuasive. That is a direct historical connection: slavery based on the color of a person’s skin and people fighting to uphold that institution while flying this particular flag. Ritenour argued that since specialty license plate designs are approved by the Virginia legislature and then signed into law by the governor, they are a form of government speech, which Virginia has the right to regulate. “It’s critically important to point out that the state gives the General Assembly and the governor the first and final word on approval,” Ritenour said during the modestly attended hearing, which took place in the small Virginia town that served as the Confederacy’s last capital during the Civil War. McPherson, blacks “raised food, and built fortifications, and hauled supplies for rebel armies.” He adds that the southern regime “impressed slaves into service before it began drafting white men as soldiers.” Slavery compromised everyone, including the legendary General Robert E.

Reporters either from or based in the North or Midwest seem baffled by the flag’s physical presence in contemporary times, he said, and usually start their line of questioning there. Goldfield recalled his recent interview with ESPN broadcaster Mitch Albom “Albom, of course, is a good northern Jewish boy, and he was just totally mystified, as many reporters have been,” Goldfield said. “He said, ‘What’s going on here? The Dixiecrats, a faction of Southern Democrats that fervently advocated segregation and the preservation of the Southern “way of life,” or as many call it, “heritage,” embraced it as their symbol.

For decades in the South, it has flown alongside the American flag on front porches, been marched down the streets during hometown parades and, until recently, flown on the South Carolina Capitol grounds. Other reporters, like CNN anchor Fredericka Whitfield, skipped the “why?” angle, instead diving right into other facets of the controversy that questioned “what” and “how.” Goldfield has tried to do all of the interviews, barring a few where time zones would have required him to be coherent at 3 a.m. Another interview, with MSNBC, was bumped for breaking news out of Baltimore. “I’m committed with getting the story out there,” Goldfield said. “There’s so much myth surrounding Southern history and the flag.

In November of that year, a Confederate raid against a Union-held island off the coast of South Carolina yielded four black prisoners, who were executed with the approval of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Lee Bright, claim the flag ought to fly because a majority of South Carolinians “hold their Southern heritage high.” The “heritage” stance is vague, and those who make this argument fail to explain what that means. Trudeau uncovered a record of the event by a southern officer, William Penniman, who recalled being puzzled by the persistence of gunfire long after the battle. Other states who display it should follow suit, and perhaps the majority of Americans in subsequent generations — future visitors to history museums — will see what the flag truly represents: treason, racial subjugation and white power.

I have tried to make the boys desist, but I can’t control them.” Olustee was not even the worst of 1864, as shown by the Petersburg butchery mentioned at the start of this article. Matthew Thick, adjunct history professor at Delta College, wrote this guest view on behalf of the Bridge Center for Racial Harmony to clarify the history behind the controversial Confederate flag. Part military genius and part fiend, Forrest plagued the North for years but truly became infamous when he overran Fort Pillow, Tennessee, in April, 1864. Also that year, says McPherson, other prisoners were forced to build fortifications under fire at Richmond, Virginia, and Charleston, South Carolina. (Union forces were so appalled by this tactic that they ordered Confederate prisoners to do the same for them, causing the South to desist.) The fate of black prisoners even inspired a dispute that crossed racial lines and caused thousands of additional cruel deaths.

Lee himself stating that “negroes belonging to our citizens are not considered subjects of exchange” — which prompted the North to suspend all exchanges. (There were questionable exceptions: Military historian Herman Hattaway has noted that one of Lee’s own sons was captured in the war but managed to be returned home while so many others languished in confinement.) The lack of prisoner exchanges caused prison camps on both sides to balloon beyond manageable limits, leading to fatal levels of neglect. Lee’s own nephew, Fitzhugh Lee, revealed that Lee thought that Wirz “had done all that was possible with the resources at his disposal.” Two trenchant observers of the South, B.C. Wood, have pointed out that notions along those lines created the southern myth of a glorious lost cause. “Here at Andersonville,” they contend, “was the stark reality of the South’s holy war.

McPherson says Quantrill was officially an officer in the Confederate military. (Boatner III adds that he died at war’s end, plotting to kill President Lincoln.) Participating in the Kansas mayhem were two brothers named Younger and a certain Frank James — in other words, the future gang of Jesse James, one of the worst outlaws in U.S. history.

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