state house plaque

A Reversal in the Assault on our History

Last week, the Maryland State House Trust rejected an effort by the new Speaker of the House of Delegates, Adrienne A. Jones, to remove a plaque honoring Marylanders who fought in the Civil War regardless of which side of the conflict they fought. As a compromise, the Trust agreed, at the suggestion of Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, to alter the plaque by sanding down the depictions of the American Flag and the Confederate Battle Flag and replace it with the Maryland flag, itself a compromise encompassing symbols of Marylanders who fought on opposite sides of the civil war.

While seemingly a minor story about a little known plaque, the episode is significant in that is shows a marked reversal in the ongoing progressive assault on Maryland’s historic symbols. Most importantly, it shows a return in Maryland’s executive branch to an opposition to “political correctness run amok”. Specifically, it marks a return to a common sense approach to preserving Maryland’s history, warts and all, rather than steaming headlong into an Orwellian erasure of monuments and symbols that we have seen since the post-Charlottesville hysteria of 2017.

The House Speaker, though, seems intent to continue the campaign to eradicate all “Confederate” symbols around the state. As the first African-American Speaker of the House and someone who spoke often of the historic nature of her elevation to Speaker, this is certainly understandable. The focus of her ire, and the rationale she employed, is troublesome nonetheless.

The Baltimore Sun described the plaque in question,

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“The plaque is affixed to a wall near the Old House of Delegates Chamber on the first floor of the State House. It was dedicated in 1964 by the Maryland Civil War Centennial Commission.

The top of the plaque features the American flag and the Confederate flag crossed over the words, ‘Maryland Remembers.’ The plaque says its purpose is to ensure that Maryland ‘leaves for posterity evidence for her remembrance of her nearly 63,000 native sons who served in the Union forces and the more than 22,000 in those of the Confederacy in the War Between the States.'”

The Speaker objected not only to the use of the Confederate flag on the monument but failure of the plaque, and the commission who designed it, to “decide who was right and who was wrong”. In other words, simply honoring the Marylanders who gave their lives in the Civil War, fighting for what they thought was right, “sympathizes with Confederate motivations and memorializes Confederate soldiers.”

If the proper standard for public symbols is that they must be cleansed of any positive association with Marylanders who fought for the Confederacy and must unequivocally state the wrongness of the Confederate cause, then, Speaker Jones can’t stop at this plaque.

She will have to move for the removal of our state song. While this is a cause she has supported in the past, we have detailed for years why this is so wrongheaded.

More importantly, the Speaker has laid the groudwork for the eradication of our state flag. As we noted in 2017, when we led a countercharge against the assault on our state’s history, the Maryland State flag is itself a symbol of reconciliation incorporating the Maryland symbols employed by soldiers that fought in the Union and Confederate Armies.

Does the Speaker view our state flag as “sympathizing with Confederate motivations” because it unquestionably “memorializes Confederate soldiers”? Progressives have long noted the flags “Confederate” origins and Speaker Jones cannot object to the benign language of a plaque on the State House and approve of the symbology of the state flag.

Luckily, such a social justice cleansing has been stopped before we got to that point. Speaker Jones’ political correctness is not running amok in Annapolis.

At least not yet.

As Lt. Gov. Rutherford put it,

“We cannot erase our history, nor should we. It is important to remember, and teach future generations, that ours was a divided state.”

To eradicate our history, as complicated and painful as it may be, to throw our historic symbols down an Orwellian memory hole, or to deny our common heritage with certain Marylanders because they held views we now find abhorrent, does violence to the truth of our history and our common humanity with our forebears.

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