GOP Gov. of Ark. Supports Replacing Confederate Link on State Flag with Reference to Indians

There is an effort by some people to erase aspects of our nation’s history, and while the bulk of that movement is concentrated on the ideological left, there are more than a few establishment Republicans who play along with it.

Case in point is the effort by the left to dislodge any reference to the Confederate states that rebelled against the Union, beginning with South Carolina declaring its secession in December 1860, or of the Civil War that raged from 1861-1865. They have torn down Confederate memorial statues and attempted to prohibit the public display of the Confederate flag.

The controversy over the Confederacy has now reached the point where the left is seeking to change the meaning of the design of the state flag of Arkansas, and Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signaled that he would support such a measure, The Associated Press reported.

The state flag features the name of the state on a white field inside of a star-studded blue diamond on a red field. Inside of the diamond are four blue stars arrayed around the state’s name, which represent the four nations that have held dominion over Arkansas throughout history, namely the United States, Spain, France and the Confederacy.

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The single star above the name of the state represents the four-year span when Arkansas was a member of the Confederate States of America, and while that piece of history may be a painful reminder of the past for some people, it is a part of history that must be remembered, lest it is repeated.

The AP reported that Hutchinson has expressed his support for a legislative measure that would change the meaning of that particular star to no longer represent the Confederacy, but instead to pay homage to the Native American tribes that previously inhabited the state, namely the Caddo, Osage and Quapaw tribes.

There’s just one problem, though. None of those Native tribes were ever considered to be a “nation,” much less one that held dominion over the entirety of the state/territory, which would essentially render meaningless the rest of the stars.

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Regardless, Hutchinson said, “It’s the right thing to do,” and announced that he would back legislation to change the meaning of the flag’s star, even as an effort to do so failed to clear a state House committee last week.

The governor said, “I don’t know that we need to recognize Arkansas in a state of rebellion. I think we’d be better off recognizing those nations, from the Indian tribes to others, that we’ve been under.”

“Whenever you see the hurt it brings to a significant part of our population, I don’t think it’s worth it,” he added. “I think you ought to strive as a state to remove that hurt and this seems like a reasonable approach to that.”

The failed measure in the House committee was proposed by Democratic state Rep. Charles Blake, who told the AP that he would likely resubmit his proposal to the committee once again now that he knew he had the support of the Republican governor for his history-erasing endeavor.

“I think that holds some weight here,” Blake said of Hutchinson’s support. “This is a Republican governor and this is a Republican super-majority” in the state House.

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Blake added, “This is something I think we can all get behind.”

It is worth noting that this isn’t the first time Gov. Hutchinson has taken a stand against references to the Confederacy. He signed a law in 2017 that removed Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from the official state holiday in January honoring civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It had honored Lee since 1947 and King since 1983, but Lee was relegated to a memorial day in October that isn’t a recognized state holiday.

The AP noted that the effort to break apart the honoring of Lee and King had failed in 2015, but had been championed by Hutchinson as part of his agenda in 2017. Descendants of Confederate veterans had staunchly opposed that effort, just as they are opposing this current effort to change the meaning of the stars on the state flag.

Our nation’s history of rebellion, including the Confederacy that briefly arose during a contentious point in time, certainly isn’t pleasant and shouldn’t be repeated. But by failing to memorialize those painful moments as a preserved part of our history, we risk allowing similar circumstances to arise once again.

CORRECTION: March 6, 2019: A previous version of this article inaccurately stated that the Civil War occurred from 1860 to 1865. South Carolina was the first state to declare its secession from the Union in 1860, however, the Civil War was fought from 1861-1865. 

We have added clarifying information to the article about when each of these events occurred, and apologize for any confusion we may have caused.

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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