Bud Kennedy

When it comes to the battle flag and racism, Texans shouldn’t look away

Michael Baker of Watauga in the 2009 Stock Show parade in downtown Fort Worth.
Michael Baker of Watauga in the 2009 Stock Show parade in downtown Fort Worth. Special to the Star-Telegram

Our problem is not solely a flag.

Nor is it solely in South Carolina.

Here in Tarrant County, where a Methodist minister critical of slavery was lynched in 1860 and where a white mob blocked African-American students from school in a 1956 incident like Little Rock’s, we have no room to judge another state for its legacy of racism and resistance.

The Confederate battle flag is carried and cheered alongside the less confrontational national flag each January in the Stock Show parade. The “Rebel flag” is flown openly at businesses and events, not only in Fort Worth but also in nearby Rebel-friendly towns.

It’s not just the flag. At a 2013 meeting of the 912 Project Fort Worth, one older woman wore a red-and-black German Iron Cross jacket popular among white nationalists.

Nobody raised a question.

An outspoken white segregationist not only posted comments to the Arlington-based Lone Star Tea Party message board and others but also won election and served as a Republican precinct chair in a small precinct.

In nearby Glen Rose, a former candidate for mayor wrote the Reporter last year defending “conservative white voters” and saying “equality and diversity are the way to … defeat.”

Yes. The newspaper printed it.

In East Texas, reporters and civic leaders are just now concerned to learn that a neighbor is virulent segregationist Earl P. Holt III, leader of the Missouri-based Council of Conservative Citizens group cited in Charleston suspect Dylann Roof’s papers.

Holt has been a Texan five years, since he moved from St. Louis and married a recent widow. He started making campaign contributions to Republicans in the party’s libertarian wing, which most have now returned or forwarded to the Charleston church.

Maybe Holt really moved for the lower taxes.

But one persistent theme in extremist online comments is that Texas, East Texas in particular, will lead secession as some sort of new Confederate “Christian nation.”

Mark Vogl of Big Sandy, a former Sons of Confederate Veterans officer, has written and spoken about Texas seceding again.

The Tyler group Grassroots America We the People, led by Tea Party figure Jo Ann Fleming, heard him say that on a 2012 visit.

They were so appalled, they invited him back.

I often hear how the battle flag stands for “history, not hate.”

If only it were history.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy

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