I chose not to comment on this story when it broke the other day in central Texas. Turns out a noose was discovered hanging from a large Sons of Confederate Veterans billboard along Highway 290. This was reported by a member of the local chapter of the SCV, but one Star-Telegram reporter is hinting that something is not quite right with this story. Better to let him tell it:
“It’s racist — a hate crime,” rancher Donnie Roberts said. Washington County Chief Deputy Mike Herzog laughed. “They were the first people who saw those nooses, and then they alerted the media,” he said. I got the feeling he won’t bring in the FBI. “It’s on a busy highway, and nobody else saw it,” he said. It would have taken three people with a bucket truck and extension ladder to hang the nooses, he said. Coincidentally, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans history and heritage group responded quickly with a bucket truck and extension ladder to take them down. The giant double billboard went up last year on the busy highway east of Brenham. Both sides wave battle flags with the message “Southern Born, Texas Proud! Learn About Your Heritage” and the phone number to buy $30-a-year Sons memberships. Chappell Hill physician Robert Stark, also a Sons member, said Roberts saw the nooses first.
So what did they do? Why, they were so insulted and threatened that Stark immediately took a bunch of photos and e-mailed them to a radio station. KWHI/1280 AM’s website headlined “Local Billboard Vandalized.” Roberts declared a “degradation of our historic heritage.” At the sheriff’s office, Herzog called it a “prank.” Deputies will investigate it as criminal mischief, he said. Roberts said he wants the national SCV to investigate a “crime against our people” and will offer a $5,000 reward. He said the suspect might be “white or black.” But he added: “Well, it did happen on Martin Luther King’s birthday.”
Like Andy, I have no idea what happened nor do I really care. That said, there is something fishy here. The “crime” plays right into the SCV’s tendency to see itself as some kind of victim in a society that shows no respect to southern heritage. But the belief that this constitutes a “crime against our people” and the insinuation that the perpetrator was black because it happened on MLK Day undermines their broader claim that southern heritage includes whites and blacks. What happened to all those black Confederates and loyal slaves?
Well, at least they are honest about who constitutes “our people.”