Kentucky and the Sons of the Confederacy License Plate

You know, as a resident of Indiana and a fan of the Hoosiers and Indiana University sports, it is always part of the fun to take part in humor or criticism directed at your traditional rivals, such as our fellow Americans in that state across the border and Ohio River to the south, Kentucky.

Recently Kentucky opened itself up to a whole lot more criticism and derision by electing the rather insane Rand Paul to the Senate. But that is not what we are here to discuss today.

It seems the Sons of the Confederacy are urging the Kentucky legislature to create a special license plate they can purchase and mount on their vehicles, one to commemorate the Confederate Soldiers of the Civil War. They want to show their fond remembrance and affection and respect for “The Cause”, and the brave soldiers of the Confederacy who fought to defend their freedoms. Of something like that.

I realize that even to his day there are many who rationalize away the fact that the Confederacy was the product of an act of treason and sedition against the Union and the Constitution. Pure and simple. End of story.

But of course they totally ignore and want to sweep under the rug the fact that the root cause of the war was the fact that Southerners owned other human beings as slaves, treating them like cattle, selling them, excluding them from justice, using their cheap labor to make lots of money in a predominately agrarian culture, tearing their families apart as if they were livestock, with no heed to their claims to humanity. After all, of course, at the time, slaves were still only 3/5 of a human even in the Constitution. It took the Civil War to amend that.

Perhaps Kentucky could at least, if they proceed with this plate, put a slave in chains, on his knees, his bound hands raised upward to the heavens supplicating mercy from his master, in one corner of the plate, to at least help get the message across a little more honestly.

Reportedly the Kentucky law on specialty plates contains the following prohibition.

The sponsoring group or its message and image can’t discriminate based on race or “be construed, as determined by the cabinet, as an attempt to victimize or intimidate any person due to the person’s race.”

Group pushing Confederate heritage license plate in Kentucky

I am having a hard time squaring this request with the actual history of the period. But then, again, when has obeying the law meant anything to the current elected majorities, Republican or Democratic, at the state of national level, if ignoring the law suits them, so it is not a surprise if it is just ignored.

After all, as the proponents of this plate clearly demonstrate, one man’s man’s racism is just another man’s fantasized romantic hotbed of chivalry.

What is really sad about this particular request is the simple fact that KENTUCKY DID NOT SECEDE FROM THE UNION. Kentucky was not a member of the Confederacy! This request appears to be coming from treasonous and seditionist oriented Kentucky citizens who somehow are waxing nostalgic that they missed out on all the romantic events of the Civil War, or are the descendants or wish they were of those Kentuckians who joined the Confederate Cause. Where are the Sons of the Confederacy in Kentucky? Oh, that’s right, they are the ones who acted with treason and sedition not only against the Union, but against their state, Kentucky.

But then again, “In 1860, slaves composed 19.5% of the Commonwealth’s population”, so maybe that is the root of the nostalgia, the longings of that part of the population that had its roots and feet firmly in the traditions and customs of the South that led to the Civil War.

Kentucky, being a border state, was among the chief places where the “Brother against brother” scenario was prevalent. Kentucky was officially neutral at the beginning of the war, but after a failed attempt by Confederate General Leonidas Polk to take the state of Kentucky for the Confederacy, the legislature petitioned the Union for assistance, and thereafter became solidly under union control.

Kentucky’s citizens were split regarding the issues central to the Civil War. In 1860, slaves composed 19.5% of the Commonwealth’s population, and many Unionist Kentuckians saw nothing wrong with the “peculiar institution”. The Commonwealth was further bound to the South by the Mississippi River and its tributaries, which were the main commercial outlet for her surplus produce, although railroad connections to the North were beginning to diminish the importance of this tie. The ancestors of many Kentuckians hailed from Southern states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, but many Kentucky children were beginning to migrate toward the North.

Kentucky in the American Civil War

Of course Kentucky also has this specialty plate available.

Somehow I am thinking this plate does not refer to the miners working in unsafe mines or the devastation to the environment from poor mining and reclamation practices, much less to the continued contributions to high carbon dioxide levels and global warming.


Author: Ron