The GOP Speaker of the Texas House wrote a newspaper op-ed published in the El Paso Times urging his Republican colleagues to remove the "Children of the Confederacy Creed" plaque from the state capitol in Austin.
Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) said Texas officials "need to stop stalling and remove" the tribute, which was erected in August of 1959 by the youth auxiliary group of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Among those admonished for the "stalling" were fellow Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
"It was bigotry also, and a backlash to the Civil Rights movement, that likely motivated state officials to hang a demonstrably false and incendiary plaque in our state Capitol during the late 1950s," Speaker Straus wrote. "We’ve made a lot of progress on civil rights since then. But amazingly, this plaque remains, because there is simply no political will among the state’s top elected officials to remove it."
"We should not try to hide the fact that the Confederacy is part of our history. But in a public space like the Texas Capitol, we should also not promote falsehoods," he continued.
Speaker Straus noted the plaque claims, "that the war between the states was not a rebellion nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery."
"We should not try to hide the fact that the Confederacy is part of our history. But in a public space like the Texas Capitol, we should also not promote falsehoods," he noted.
[caption id="attachment_1331158" align="aligncenter" width="613"] The Children of the Confederacy Creed plague displayed on the first floor of the Texas State Capitol[/caption]
"At a convention three years ago, the Daughters of the Confederacy removed the phrase "nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery" from the creed. If this group no longer includes this language in its own creed, why should it be displayed in the Capitol?" he asked.
He urged the State Preservation Board to remove the plaque, saying a vote of the legislature is unnecessary.
"The State Preservation Board has the authority to "preserve, maintain and restore" the Capitol. The governor chairs the board, and the lieutenant governor and I (as speaker of the House) are vice chairs," he noted. "I continue to hope that the governor will call a meeting of the board to take this up.'
"The Preservation Board should use the authority that state law plainly gives us and move this plaque out of the Capitol – not because it mentions the Confederacy or Civil War, but because it describes those events in terms that are historically and morally wrong," he concluded.
The plaque praises the "heroic deeds of those who enlisted in the Confederate Army."
"In the case of this particular plaque, no compelling defense of its content has been offered because none exists," Speaker Straus added. "Those of us who support moving this plaque do not wish to erase history. But plain falsehoods do history no favors. The plaque was placed in the Capitol at a moment of division and hate. If we really want to show that we’ve made progress in the 60 years since, we need to stop the stalling and remove it."