Texas governor Abbott says 'inaccurate' Confederate displays unfit for Capitol

Published on Monday, 30 October 2017 18:19 - Written by PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press

AUSTIN (AP) - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's office said Monday that "substantially inaccurate historical statements" don't belong on display at the state Capitol as they seek a review of a Confederate marker that rejects slavery as an underlying cause of the Civil War.

It was a clearer denunciation than Abbott's office originally gave last week following a private meeting with a black Texas lawmaker, who later blasted the Republican's characterization of their conversation about a 1959 plaque titled "Children of the Confederacy Creed."

Democratic state Rep. Eric Johnson said he left Friday's meeting under the impression that the governor supported removing the plaque from the hallways of the Texas Capitol. Abbott has denied that account, causing Johnson to rip the governor for releasing a brief statement that made no mention of how they discussed the importance of historical accuracy.

The plaque, which was made by the Children of the Confederacy, vows to preserve "pure ideals" and "teach the truths of history." Then it adds: "One of the most important of which is that the war between the states was not a rebellion, nor was its underlying cause to sustain slavery."

Pressed again about the meeting Monday, Abbott spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in an email, "The Governor said something that most Texans can agree with: substantially inaccurate historical statements are not appropriate for permanent display in the Capitol building. That's why he asked the State Preservation Board to look into this particular plaque and the history surrounding it."

Johnson did not immediately return a request for comment Monday. On Friday, he had accused Abbott of "cherry-picking" details from their conversation and said Abbott agreed with him the plaque was inaccurate.

The plaque is one of about a dozen Confederate markers around the Texas Capitol. Matthews said "no questions were raised" about other monuments around the Texas Capitol during the meeting and that the governor has not changed his previous stance on the issue.

In August, Abbott resisted calls to take down Confederate markers following a deadly clash at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Abbott said at the time that racism and hate-filled violence is never acceptable but that "tearing down monuments won't erase our nation's past."