Dothan Eagle on lawmakers debating state coat of arms

Alabama lawmakers are debating the makeup of the state coat of arms, an image that has stood as an official emblem of the state since its adoption in 1939.

At issue is a representation of a flag of the Confederacy, and the consideration follows efforts nationally to remove Confederate imagery and statues. At least one state — neighboring Mississippi — removed the Confederate flag from its state emblems.

It would be unlikely to see Alabama lawmakers follow suit; after all, the Legislature banned the removal of historic statues in an effort to stymy local government attempts to dismantle Confederate-era monuments.

We understand the offense many Alabamians take at the pervasive Confederate imagery. For many residents of the state, the Confederacy is associated with the preservation of slavery, and the constant reminders are an affront to dignity.

Others see it as heritage, homage to a noble fight to preserve states’ rights. More than 150 years after the end of the war, the debate over its cause still rages.

In the same vein, the content of the state coat of arms is also open to interpretation. The Confederate flag isn’t the only image there. Two bald eagles flank a shield featuring the flags of five nations that have exercised control of Alabama: a French coat of arms, representation of Spain’s Crown of Castile, a Union Flag of the United Kingdom, and the Confederate battle flag. At the crest is a representation of the French ship Badine, which delivered the first French settlers to the Alabama Territory.

In that context, the inclusion of the Confederate battle flag not only makes sense, but is essential in reflecting the history, good or bad, of our state.

But here’s a thought: Do we really need a state coat of arms?

Johnson City (Tennessee) Press on legislature needing to go back to school

While attempting to limit the historical context provided to students in Tennessee to help them understand the world around them, state Rep. Justin Lafferty inadvertently delivered a lesson in why that background information is so important.

In an impassioned speech on the House floor, which was picked up by several state and national media outlets and the Twitterverse, the Republican wrongly insisted the U.S. Constitution’s three-fifths compromise was an effort to limit slave-owning states’ political power and ultimately end slavery.

It was, in fact, the opposite, giving slave states inordinate representation in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College and lending them the power to perpetuate the injustice of owning people as property for the country’s first 72 years.

The three-fifths compromise was a concession to slave states, giving them another use for the people they considered to be and treated as things, with no requirements that they be afforded any benefits of citizenship.

Lafferty getting the historical context so wrong, and the applause showered on him from his fellow Republican representatives when he finished speaking, show why these difficult and uncomfortable lessons are still needed.

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