A Crime Against Our People

[H/T to Andy Hall at Dead Confederates]

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.”

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10 comments… add one

  • Andy Hall Jan 24, 2012

    Just to provide a little additional context to Chief Deputy Herzog’s comment that “it’s on a busy highway, and nobody else saw it.” I’ve driven past that billboard numerous times, on the way to and from Austin. It’s on a stretch to rural highway between Hempstead and Brenham. It faces west (i.e., visible to eastbound traffic), and would have been in shadow early in the morning. Most of the traffic passing by that billboard at that time of day would have been commuters, who’ve likely passed it hundreds of times and don’t look closely at it. I would be very surprised if the presence of these nooses — regardless who put them there — would have become general public knowledge at all if the SCV members who discovered it hadn’t immediately blasted it out to the local media. Whoever put the nooses there, it’s an opportunity the SCV isn’t letting go to waste.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 24, 2012

      Thanks for the additional information. Rahm nailed it: You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. :-)

    • Andy Hall Jan 24, 2012

      Minor correction — it’s apparently a double billboard, facing both ways. I’ve only seen the west-facing side; the east-facing sign may be a newer addition, as I don’t recall seeing it, even though I look for it when I pass going westbound.

  • Roger E. Watson Jan 24, 2012

    The lady doth protest too much methinks !!

    • Ray O'Hara Jan 24, 2012

      It does sound fishy. as the article pointed out, one would need a bucket truck to reach the sign, and who had a bucket truck? hmmm.

  • Jonathan Dresner Jan 24, 2012

    If the SCV didn’t put it up themselves, which is still not that far from an Occam’s Razor answer, then I suspect that it was put up not as a threat to the SCV, but as a critique, a reminder of what Confederate Heritage has often meant over the last 150 years.

  • Michael Fox Jan 24, 2012

    My first thought was that the noose was placed by someone sympathetic to the SCV in order to symbolize and make clear the real heritage of the Stars and Bars: that those who do not respect white power will be lynched.

  • Michael Jan 24, 2012

    Oh my, these folks are becoming too precious for words. And I love it when some of them slip up and admit who they view as *their* people. Not to generalize about any group of people, but I have to say that the style is just not something, by and large, that black folks would do. I have to agree with Misters Dresner and Fox. It’s either a critique/reminder (whether from an antagonist or a proponent or a prankster), or it’s an SCV version of a “Tawana Brawley moment.”

  • Bryan Cheeseboro Jan 25, 2012

    A “We Are the World” type of music, atcing, et al celebrities who are sympathetic to the Confederate Flag (like Ted Nugent) needs to be brought together to perform a song called “Heritage, not Hate” or “There’s a Little Confederate In All of Us” to raise money to bring awareness to this “racist, hate crime.”

  • David Rhoads Jan 26, 2012

    I don’t know about Texas specifically, but in the wake of an incident in Louisiana a few years ago where, IIRC, hanging a noose on a tree in a school yard resulted in some serious acts of violence, a number of states enacted legislation criminalizing the display of a noose in certain settings and for certain reasons.

    For example, here’s section 18.2-423.2 of the Virginia Code:

    Ҥ 18.2-423.2. Displaying noose on property of another or a highway or other public place with intent to intimidate; penalty.

    “A. Any person who, with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons, displays a noose on the private property of another without permission is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

    “B. Any person who, with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons, displays a noose on a highway or other public place in a manner having a direct tendency to place another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of death or bodily injury is guilty of a Class 6 felony. (2009, c. 277)”

    So, SCV posturing aside, it’s entirely possible that an actual crime may have been committed here.

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