Illinois’ Governor J.B. Pritzer has banned the Southern rock band Confederate Railroad from the Illinois State Fair because of the band’s name and Confederate flag on their logo. He said that the administration bars using resources to promote symbols of racism. Well, kiss my grits. Let’s look at the state fair’s “Land of Lincoln.”

“The land of Lincoln” is the motto of Illinois. It is on numerous billboards across the state not to mention on all state license plates. Of course, this in reference to the 16th president who is claimed by Illinois as its son, though Lincoln was born in Kentucky not far from Jefferson Davis.

One would assume that a lot of state resources go into these various signs and plates.

Though generally kept under the political covers, Abe Lincoln, who is of the same vintage as Jefferson Davis and the Confederate flag, was a racist. This is using the same measuring rod of time (150 years ago) for the flag as for Lincoln and his “land.”

African-American scholar Lerone Bennett wrote in his Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream that, “On at least fourteen occasions between 1854 and 1860 Lincoln said that he believed the Negro race was inferior to the White race.”

Probably Lincoln’s most often quoted remarks from one of his debates was:

I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races….

We can lay a multitude of these sins of racism at Lincoln’s feet, but he wasn’t alone. Fellow Illinois Republican, United States Senator Lyman Trumbull, said around the same time that:

We, the Republican Party, are the white man’s party. We are for the free white man, and for making white labor acceptable and honorable, which it can never be when Negro slave labor is brought into competition with it.

And how “free” was the “free state” of Illinois, anyway? The Illinois Historic Preservation Department wrote this about the history of the “Land of Lincoln:”

However, the Illinois constitution of 1818 allowed for limited slavery in the salt mines and allowed current slave owners to retain their slaves. The General Assembly also passed legislation that severely curtailed the rights of free blacks residing in the state and discouraged the migration of free blacks. If a black person was unable to present proof of their freedom, they could be fined $50 or sold by the sheriff to the highest bidder. Not long after the passage of the constitution, the state’s general assembly adopted a pro-slavery resolution that announced its approval of slavery in slave-holding states and at the same time condemned the formation of abolition societies within Illinois’ boundaries.

This “Land of Lincoln” sure has a history of racial love.

Meanwhile, down South, where the Confederate Battle Flag is still a proud symbol to most, the notion of race has nothing to do with the flag. The design is from the Cross of Saint Andrew and is a symbol not only of the Christian Cross but of the abundant Scottish heritage in the South. The flag design was not original with the Confederacy. While the “Land of Lincoln” was barring blacks from residing in the State, Southern society depended on African-Americans. Which is more “racist?”

So, will Governor Pritzer cease all administrative monies for those signs or plates which clearly define a racist state, and which should be offensive to so very, very many people?

The governor should do the manly thing and call the legislature into special session and dispense with Illinois’s racist motto. If you can cancel a contract by fiat with a Southern Rock band because they use a Confederate Battle flag as part of their logo, then you ought to sell the people of your state on getting a new motto.

You could even have a contest to determine the new one.

Maybe Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men! Oh, wait, as that arch neo-Confederate historian Eric Foner points out, that motto was racist, too.

Paul H. Yarbrough

I was born and reared in Mississippi, lived in both Louisiana and Texas (past 40 years). My wonderful wife of 43 years who recently passed away was from Louisiana. I have spent most of my business career in the oil business. I took up writing as a hobby 7 or 8 years ago and love to write about the South. I have just finished a third novel. I also believe in the South and its true beliefs.

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