Never too late to change government-sanctioned symbols of hate

APR 22, 2014, 5:10 PM

Dawud Walid: Never too late to change government-sanctioned symbols of hate

In a recent segment on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” Georgia State Senator Jason Carter, a Democrat and a the grandson President Jimmy Carter, stated that he is in favor of his state keeping its controversial Sons of the Confederate Veterans license plates. Those license plates, of course, contain the Rebel Flag.

I grew up in a semi-rural area in Virginia in which many people flew the Rebel Flag in front of their homes and had “The South Will Raise Again” bumper stickers on the back of their vehicles.

As much as I’m uncomfortable with that imagery to this day, I do believe that people have the right, as private citizens, to fly the Confederate Flag as part of the First Amendment.

What I do have a deeper problem with, however, is symbols of hate being sanctioned by the government and being stamped on license plates using taxpayer dollars. A Freedom of Speech argument goes out of the window when a government funded by taxpayers is passively endorsing hate.

Spin it anyway you want, the Confederacy’s so-called states’ rights issue was about one issue, which was owning enslaved black people as chattel. Given the ugly history of slavery, the bloody civil war and Jim Crow, it’s a slap in the face for Carter and others to support this state sanctioned symbol of bigotry.

Carter, by the way, is running for governor of Georgia and is most likely pandering to former Dixiecrats and their children.

Even locally, we have problematic symbols in honor of known racists, which need to be changed.

In Dearborn, there is a statute of Mayor Orville Hubbard outside of the City Hall and a street named Hubbard Drive.

In the 1960’s, Hubbard was just as racist as the segregationist Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, “Bull” Connor. Hubbard was a white supremacist who believed that integration would bring about a “mongrel race,” and he openly proclaimed that he hated “black bastards.”

Governments make mistakes. We have a history, however, of local, state and federal bodies remedying those. Be it the Sons of the Confederate Veterans license plates in Georgia or monuments of Hubbard in Dearborn, it’s never too late to symbolically right racist wrongs.


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