Sid Miller is the Texas Agriculture Commissioner, but his opinions on topics far beyond crop yields and animal husbandry have now landed him in hot water in his hometown of Stephenville, Texas.
It was Miller’s comments on a Facebook post decrying the banning of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) from the local Veterans’ Day parade — unless they agreed to not display their confederate flags — that inspired a storm of angry replies condemning the state agriculture official for his seeming inability to consider the sensibilities of other people’s views.
The organizers of the parade, including one Burton Smith, greeted the members of the local SCV when they arrived early on the morning of the parade with “2 trailers, plus a cannon displaying a Vietnam Soldier with a United States Flag and also a trailer displaying Confederate flags, ladies dressed in Civil War Dress and men in Confederate uniforms.”
Smith says that the group was told that they were welcome to participate in the parade, but only if they removed the Confederate flags from their parade display.
It was not an unreasonable request given the spate of recent controversies over whether the continued display of monuments to the losing side of America’s bloodiest war was appropriate in this day and age. After all, the swastika flag of Nazi Germany and the rising sun flag of imperial Japan are not regularly displayed at veteran’s parades in this country, so why display the Confederate flag?
Yet, the members of this chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans decided that if they couldn’t fly the stars and bars then they’d rather not participate in the parade at all, so they turned around, took their floats and flags and went home.
Commissioner Miller was upset when he heard about what had happened through a Facebook post by one of the members of the rebel-loving group and left a comment that had jaws dropping across the state and the nation when they read it.
“Who told them to leave? Get a rope,” he posted in the comments section, invoking a sad legacy of the lychings that followed the confederate loss in the South during the Reconsctruction and Jim Crow eras.
Even on the comments board for the post lamenting the parade organizers’ decision, the reaction to Miller’s implication was swift and negative, leading him to dismiss his comments as a joke later in the day.
According to The Texas Tribune, which first broke the story, this is not the first time that Miller “has written wildly offensive posts on social media. He also has a history of sharing and commenting on doctored photos and false stories,” the newspaper wrote.
The parade coordinator, Burton Smith, was unapologetic for the group’s stance against the display of the flag of the rebellious slave-holding southern states.
“My understanding is that it would be inappropriate for the military to be involved in a parade with the Confederate flag flying,” Smith said.
At least some people living in the 21st century understand that. It’s unfortunate that someone entrusted with a high-level state office in Texas doesn’t.
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Original reporting by Chase Karacostas at The Texas Tribune.