Want a rebel flag on your license plate?

By Bill Ryan

This is only another year in the continuing battle of many Southerners, red-neck or not, to display their love for the Confederate States of America. It doesn’t matter that the slavery issue was settled with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation or that Lee surrendered. These folks want their way.
A self-proclaimed patriotic group called the Sons of Confederate Veterans has been trying for years to have all Southern states allow the Confederate battle flag to be printed on license plates.
Most African-Americans and many whites and Hispanics see the flag as an offensive, racist symbol of slavery and the South’s desire to return to the good old plantation days. But supporters claim the stars-and-bars display is only meant to honor Confederate soldiers.
I’ve seen the flag in the rear window of pickups in Idaho. I can only guess the owner is trying to overcome a severe lack of masculinity, or doesn’t have good sense. He sees it as a macho thing. It’s hard for me to believe the average Idaho pickup driver really cares if THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN! He and Idaho both have their own problems.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles last year twice rejected the idea of making the flag available to motorists who wanted it on their license plates. The Dallas Morning News said, “DMV board members called the slavery-era flag offensive, often linked to racist organizations.” So the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued the DMV in federal court.
“Nine states currently have the flag-embellished plates. Holdouts Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina rejected them but were forced to accept after the Sons sued them and won,” the Morning news reported. Florida, Arkansas and Kentucky face similar suits, but there’ll be no flag display in Texas, at least for a while.
After hearing pleas from both the Sons and DMV lawyers, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, of Austin, said in April, “The state didn’t have to release a tag that it deems derogatory or inflammatory.”
Sparks added, “Drivers can paint their cars in the image of the Confederate flag, but they just can’t force the state to put it on their license plate.”

Pocatello native Bill Ryan is a retired United Press International editor who was earlier with Idaho State University as alumni director and journalism professor. He holds a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pocatello High School. Ryan lives in the Dallas suburb of Richardson, Texas, and can be reached at wryan1807@aol.com.