The Sun has access to both the vote records and my official recommendation. Nevertheless, the board wrongly concludes that the State House Trust was attempting to “give equal play” to both sides of the Civil War. I agree with Speaker Adrienne A. Jones’ assertion that history tells us there was a right and a wrong side to this conflict. And as an African American — which The Sun conveniently left out of its coverage of this matter not once, but twice — and a descendant of slaves, I am acutely aware that the Confederacy sought to keep our ancestors enslaved. That this body would chastise me on that fact is as laughable as it is offensive.
It is undoubtedly divisive to suggest that I would only make my recommendation based on the “influence” of another officeholder rather than propose a logical compromise on my own. I take complete ownership of this recommendation and continue to feel it was the correct decision.
As I stated in my letter, the Confederate flag is “a divisive symbol that has no place in this or any state house.” I also believe we “have an obligation to represent our history appropriately. That memory helps us all appreciate the progress we have made in the years since, and our continued work toward a more perfect union.”
To ignore Maryland’s complex, painful history as a divided state during the Civil War does a disservice to all those who died attempting to free their countrymen from bondage. The Sun claims that we “must never forget” the history of slavery and the inequalities that African Americans have and continue to face in America. To that I ask: How do we ensure future generations do not forget this painful chapter and the consequences it wrought if we remove any reference from public spaces, whether or not we agree with them? Leaving the plaque provides visitors with the opportunity to confront our complicated history head-on.
I voted to remove the Roger B. Taney statue from the State House grounds, just as I voted to keep the altered plaque hanging within its doors. That the Baltimore Sun Editorial Board cannot understand how the Trust could make both decisions says more about its own divisive motives than it does about the work of the State House Trust.
Boyd Rutherford, Annapolis
The writer, a Republican, is the ninth lieutenant governor of Maryland.