Patterson Remark Draws Fire

Land commissioner opens mouth, inserts foot

Left: Patterson; Right: Buffalo Soldiers
Left: Patterson; Right: Buffalo Soldiers (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress)

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has been blasted for comparing America's first African-American soldiers to the Confederate troops that wanted to continue slavery. In a gaffe reminiscent of President Ronald Reagan saying that SS troopers were victims of the Third Reich, Patter­son has backed a request from the Sons of Confederate Veterans that the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles release a fundraising license plate carrying the battle flag of the Republic. To Patterson, rebels who committed treason in the name of slavery were less honorable or deserving of a commemorative license plate than the Buffalo Soldiers who served in the American Indian Wars. Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Buffalo Soldiers National Museum Chair Paul Matthews fired off a furious volley, accusing him of peddling a false equivalency. While the four African-American regiments formed after the Civil War acquired their nickname in the West, they served in multiple campaigns including the Spanish-American War and World War I. They were also peacekeepers and civil engineers, while members of the 24th Infantry Division became Yosemite National Park's first rangers. In the Oct. 13 letter, Ellis and Matthews called Patterson's "attempt to sanitize the mission and record of the Confederacy with an inappropriate reference to the honor and legacy of one of America's most dedicated fighting force is indefensible." The DMV's board may vote on the request at its Nov. 10 meeting.

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Jerry Patterson, Sons of Confederate Veterans

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