Gov. Rick Perry's record on racial issues has always been a little complicated. Earlier this month, there was that dust-up over his family's Paint Creek hunting lease, which Schutze thought unfairly loaded up Perry's shoulders with Southern-boy baggage. But back in 1990, during his run for agriculture commissioner, Perry ran an attack ad against Democratic opponent Jim Hightower, including an image of the incumbent with Rev. Jesse Jackson and the words: "Does Hightower share your values?" Race-baiting red meat for the racist vote, or guilt by association with a noted liberal? Perry claimed the latter, but black leaders were furious.
Perhaps seeking to parry renewed allegations of racial insensitivity, Perry sidestepped the most recent race dust-up: The Sons of Confederate Veterans' proposal to have their own Texas vanity license plate, which includes an image of the Confederate flag. "We don't need to be scraping old wounds," he told The St. Petersburg Times earlier this week, after the NAACP said the flag was "every bit as offensive as the Swastika."
This struck Sons of Confederate Veterans commander-in-chief Michael Givens as curious given that Perry has been supportive of their cause in the past. "It's sad enough what Rick is doing," he told Unfair Park. "He's just playing politician.
"It's a shame he's now siding with [the NAACP]. Perry has decided the Sons of Confederate Veterans is the only nonprofit that doesn't deserve free speech."
After all, it was Perry who opposed the NAACP's efforts to remove Confederate symbols from courthouses and other government buildings some 11 years ago. The state Supreme Court had two bronze plaques, one commemorating the men who fought for the Confederacy and another quoting Confederate army commanding general Robert E. Lee. In a letter to SCV in 2000, obtained by the AP, then Lt. Governor Perry wrote, " ... I want you to know that I oppose efforts to remove Confederate monuments, plaques and memorials from public property."
Givens wonders what happened to a one-time ally. And as for reopening "old wounds," he dismissed the idea outright. "Where does it stop? We're talking about our corporate logo, which does have the Confederate flag incorporated on it. it's on license plates in nine different states."
"I wish somebody would show me one instance where a license plate in those nine states caused somebody harm. If somebody says they're reminded of slavery, oh please. I can't help what people are reminded of."
"I think he's nervous about his chances of an election," Givens said. "But to display that to the world and step on it for political gain. I don't know what he thinks he's gonna get."