The controversy over the proposed Texas Confederate license plate we told you about earlier this year is back in the news. And one Republican state legislator has penned an open letter to Gov. Rick Perry, asking him to quash the controversy.

The letter by state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, reminds us what the Confederate flag represents — as if we needed reminding, but apparently some people do — and offers a solution to the controversy: You want to study the historical significance of the flag? Fine, pick up a book.

We felt Sen. Carona’s letter is simple, yet so reasonable, that it should be shared with our readers. Here it is:

A Message to the Governor

As a friend of Governor Perry, fellow conservative, and former Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I offer our Governor the following advice: Soundly reject the proposal before the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to approve a new license plate depicting the Confederate flag.

Those who are advancing such a plan do not reflect the sentiments of most Texans.

No one wishes to deny our history as a state. But we as leaders should take every opportunity to support that which unites… Read More

Texas may be getting ready to honor the red, white and blue flag. No, not that one. No, not that one either.

The Houston Chronicle reports the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles license board is one vote shy of giving its blessing to a state license plate adorned with the Confederate flag.

Texas is often referred to as a Petri dish for bad ideas (see State Board of Education) but this time, while we’re no less embarrassed — we’re actually a little bit late to the party. Texas would be the tenth, and by far the biggest state to slap a symbol of slave ownership on a license plate (or a symbol of “states’ rights,” if you want to accept the arguments of some SBOE members and others who downplay the role of slavery in causing the Civil War).

The license board took a vote on the plate earlier this month, but the result was a tie. The potential tie-breaking vote will come from the person appointed to fill a vacancy created on the board when one of its members died. Guess who gets to make the appointment? C’mon, guess. Yep, Gov. Rick… Read More

Who would even ask such a ridiculous question in the 21st century? Apparently lots of people. From a recent story in the Washington Post entitled "Five myths about why the South seceded": One hundred fifty years after the Civil War began, we’re still fighting it — or at least fighting over its history. I’ve polled thousands of high school history teachers and spoken about the war to audiences across the country, and there is little agreement even about why the South seceded. Was it over slavery? States’ rights? Tariffs and taxes? Now why on earth would people believe that "states' rights" was a more significant causal factor than slavery? Um, maybe because they went to school in Texas. According to the new social studies standards adopted by the State Board of Education last year, Texas 8th graders will be expected to: explain the issues surrounding causes of the Civil War, including sectionalism, states’ rights, and slavery... And lest you think that the order of this list is not intended to connote importance, this was was actually an amendment made by politicians on the board to the original draft standards prepared by teachers and scholars. Conservatives on…… Read More

We continue to marvel at the nostalgia some -- such as certain members of the Texas State Board of Education -- seem to have for the Confederacy of the American Civil War. This is 2010, after all. Isn't it about time to let go of the misguided notion of the  "Lost Cause"? This nostalgia, after all, is the product of a political perspective that sees southern history in some glorified way that grossly distorts reality. For example, in new social studies curriculum standards adopted in May, the Texas state board deliberately downplayed the central role that slavery played in causing the Civil War. The new standards also require students to study the ideas in Confederate President Jefferson Davis' inaugural address. That address is full of excuses for southern secession but includes not one word about slavery despite the abundance of historical evidence showing that the bitter divide over slavery led to secession and war. State board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, even won approval for a standard requiring that Texas history students learn about the state's Confederate war heroes and Civil War battles. Now we see the conservative magazine Human Events is promoting what…… Read More

One of the more interesting -- if not enlightening -- debates about social studies curriculum standards at the May State Board of Education meeting in Austin focused on the avowed importance of including a study of Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address alongside the first and second inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address of Abraham Lincoln. Eventually the board's far-right faction succeeded in adding the Davis address. We count on Texas classroom teachers to provide their students with a candid and complete insight into the basic beliefs of the leaders of the Confederacy. With slavery downgraded by the board from its status as the primary cause of the Civil War (with slavery now listed behind sectionalism and states' rights elsewhere in the new standards), this insight is particularly important. Davis' inaugural address, after all, doesn't even mention the word "slavery." Excerpts from several other documents, however, go a long way in telling the real story. Read More