Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signaled Thursday that his interest in eliminating reminders of the Confederacy stops with his recent support for recalling Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates.
Responding to questions during a news conference, the Republican governor said additional efforts to remove controversial reminders — such as a statue near the statehouse or the Maryland state song — amount to “political correctness run amok.”
“Where do we draw the line?” Hogan said. “Some of this is our history. We hear people saying we should dig up the Confederate cemeteries in Maryland.”
Hogan spoke on the same day that U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced plans to form a bipartisan commission that would review matters related to the display of Confederate memorabilia, likely including those in the U.S. Capitol.
Also on Thursday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) signed legislation to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds.
A national debate over Confederate flag, statues and symbols has erupted since the racially charged shooting last month of nine people at a historical black church in Charleston, S.C. The accused shooter’s racist statements, white supremacist views and use of the Confederate flag has prompted calls for state and local governments to stop using the flag and to remove other Confederate symbols from government properties and places of honor.
In Virginia, the Alexandria City Council appears poised to end a decades-old tradition of raising the Confederate flag to mark Confederate holidays.
In Maryland, MoveOn.org launched a petition last month asking the state to remove a statue of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney outside the Annapolis statehouse and rename the University of Maryland football stadium, which honors Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd.
Taney wrote the majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision, which upheld slavery and said blacks born in the United States could not be U.S. citizens.
Byrd was a segregationist who, according to MoveOn.org, was responsible for the race-based rejection of Thurgood Marshall from the U-Md. law school before he became the first African American justice.
Hogan said Thursday that he would not support removing the Taney statue, noting that a sculpture honoring Marshall has also been installed outside the statehouse, opposite the Taney figure.
The governor sarcastically noted the presence of a statue of George Washington at the statehouse’s Old Senate Chamber, which reopened this week after an eight-year, $8 million makeover.
“George Washington was a slave owner,” Hogan said. “Should we remove him from the statehouse?”
Hogan said he would not oppose a decision by Baltimore — or, presumably, other localities — to conduct its own review of Confederate reminders.
“The city has every right to do so,” Hogan said. “I would have no interest in that.”