Bud Kennedy

The ‘Stars and Bars’ flag stays, but does Texas need a Confederate Heroes Day holiday?

Should Texas have a Confederate Heroes Day holiday?

Austin teenager Jacob Hale speaks to the Texas House pushing a bill to eliminate the holiday. Terry Ayers supports the holiday.
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Austin teenager Jacob Hale speaks to the Texas House pushing a bill to eliminate the holiday. Terry Ayers supports the holiday.

Texas took a furtive step into the 21st century last week, then retreated to the comfort of the 19th.

As a Texas House panel in Austin heard the arguments to get rid of Texas’ official Confederate Heroes Day holiday, a rural county judge in Goldthwaite tried in vain to keep a recently added Confederate national flag off a flagpole on the courthouse lawn.

Mills County Judge Ed Smith even read from Texas leaders’ 1861 declaration of secession: that only war against the U.S. would preserve the “servitude of the African race.”

He read on from the Feb. 2, 1861 declaration: that the U.S. and Texas were exclusively for “the white race, for themselves and their posterity” and that African Americans were “inferior and dependent.”

The vote was 3-1.

Smith was the 1.

Speakers defended the flag as part of a nearby veterans’ monument.

But the monument was built in 1915. The flag — the “Stars and Bars” national flag, not the Battle Flag — was added by a heritage group in 2013.

A teenager got the OK to put up the flagpole.

From a glance at social media, he was upset over the reelection of President Barack Obama.

In Austin, a Texas House committee might vote as soon as this week on House Bill 1183, which would do away with the state’s annual Jan. 19 holiday for Confederate Heroes Day.

Every session, somebody tries to get rid of the holiday. It was originally added in 1931 as (Confederate Gen.) Robert E. Lee’s Birthday.

Every session, General Lee rules again.

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St. Stephen’s Episcopal School student Jacob Hale went to the Texas House to ask a committee to eliminate the Confederate Heroes Day holiday in Texas. KVUE-TV

“There is no (separate) holiday for those who fought the Nazis, no holiday for those who fought the Taliban, but there’s a holiday for those who fought the United States,” said teenager Jacob Hale, back again in his second try to knock Lee and other “Confederate heroes” — most of them not even Texans — off the state calendar.

Hale called the hearing, which lasted past 3 a.m., a “bizarre experience.”

An opponent from a Confederate lineage group, Terry Ayers of Austin, said Hale opposes the holiday out of “intolerance” and said the bill is “rooted in bigotry.”

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Dan Chandler of Austin favored keeping Confederate Heroes Day in Texas. KVUE-TV KVUE-TV

Bigotry against pointless holidays?

Look, this is not about denying the past, destroying Texas history or ignoring our veterans.

“There’s just no other group of war veterans given their own separate holiday,” said Hale, 17, headed to study history and political science at Vanderbilt.

“We’re celebrating Robert E. Lee and (Confederate President) Jefferson Davis. … Maybe Texas shouldn’t devote a holiday to a nation built on the premise that that black Americans are inferior.”

Meanwhile, deep in the Mueller Report, we learned that when Russians wanted to manipulate Texans against the government, they did it the proven way: by promoting a Confederate rally.

in November 2015, a year before the election, Russia’s Internet Research Agency propaganda arm posted from an account named “Stand for Freedom”: “Good evening buds! Well I am planning to organize a confederate rally ( … ) in Houston on the 14 of November and I want more people to attend.”

After Trump’s election, Russian accounts continued to promote the Confederacy.

A Twitter account faking a “Jenna Abrams” posted an image of the Battle Flag and wrote: “To those people, who hate the Confederate flag. Did you know that the flag and the war wasn’t about slavery, it was all about money.”

We’ve been fed that propaganda for 160 years.

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Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 16 Texas Legislature sessions. First on the scene of a 1988 DFW Airport crash, he interviewed passengers running from the burning plane. He made his first appearance in the paper before he was born: He was sold for $600 in the adoption classifieds.

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