By JAY ROOT
STAR-TELEGRAM AUSTIN BUREAU
AUSTIN — The Civil War ended more than 140 years ago, but on the eve of Confederate Heroes Day, new battles erupted over the meaning of the Old South, statues honoring its defenders and even a controversial stage act at Gov. Rick Perry’s inaugural ball.
The ongoing flashpoints highlight the raw emotions conjured up by the mere mention of the Confederacy or the iconic red and blue battle flag.
For many descendants of Confederate war veterans, including Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Confederate Heroes Day should be honored and celebrated Friday.
“We should memorialize and commemorate all of our soldiers who served honorably,” Patterson said.
But for the Texas branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Confederate Heroes Day evokes shame and horror.
“To say that, to use Confederate with ‘heroes’ is an oxymoron,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the state NAACP office in Austin. “It’s like using Nazi with hero. You just can’t do that. Their cause was immoral.”
Also generating controversy this week was an appearance by rocker Ted Nugent, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the Confederate battle flag, at the governor’s inaugural. Republican strategist Royal Masset said he did not see the performance but suggested that Perry should have done more to prevent the edgy display.
“I think it was definitely pushing the envelope,” Masset said. “Perry should have more control over his people.”
Perry spokesman Robert Black said Perry himself wouldn’t wear a Confederate T-shirt. But he said Nugent was a personal friend of the governor’s and that no restrictions were put on his act.
"It’s not something we had any control over. It’s not something we tried to censor,” Black said. “If Ted Nugent wants to wear whatever T-shirt, I’m sure he’s going to do it.”
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