If two wrongs don’t make a right, try three
It is wrong that we cannot talk New Mexico history without modern politics getting in the way.
The Confederate Flag controversy in Las Cruces last week is captured perfectly by Laurence Peter: “If two wrongs don’t make a right, try three.”
The controversy started because of an Independence Day parade float by the Las Cruces TEA Party. It had the Confederate Flag among 21 other flags that have flown over New Mexico. The flag was displayed among the other flags but not prominently. Regardless, it jumps out at you.
The TEA Party theme was: What flags have flown over New Mexico in its history? While that was not the centerpiece theme of the parade, the Centennial of our state’s founding, it was good enough New Mexico history that the judges awarded the TEA Party float the grand prize including a thousand dollars.
It seems a political operative who was a TEA Party opponent realized that if this issue was falsified and twisted it could put the TEA Party in a bad light. So this operative protested that the Confederate Flag on the TEA Party float was the only flag flown, and you know what that means, wink wink nod nod. Not true but the political operative chortled at the chaos created.
The three wrongs
Let us look at the three wrongs in this story.
The TEA Party was wrong to put the Confederate Flag on their float for reasons outside of New Mexico history. The TEA Party showed they were naïve in that they should have known their political opponents would lie and cheat. They cannot look surprised that the progressives, whom they fight every day politically, would seize upon this issue and distort it as they did. This brings us to the second wrong in this story.
A couple of days after the parade Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima decided that he would be outraged. He wrote, “The Las Cruces Tea Party can believe whatever it wants, but to have this symbol and what it represents, ** highlight** (my emphasis) the winning float at a celebration of our nation’s independence is an outrage.” In another post he said, “By displaying the flag of an occupying military force, the Tea Party featured a flag which not only **represents its political orientation,** (my emphasis) but also symbolizes racial inequality and divisiveness in a state well known for its diversity.”
Two lies by the mayor. It was not the highlight of the float and it certainly does not represent the TEA Party political orientation. Is the mayor that stupid? Or is he that evil to ascribe those thoughts for the purpose of making a political gain for himself? At best he made an indecent exposure of his own soul.
The TEA Party included the flag because they used, “A Cuarto Centennial History of New Mexico” by Robert Torrez as their source authority. Again, someone in their organization should have stopped them because their opponents would lie about it.
Finally, there is a mischaracterization of New Mexico history. Both sides missed the story of the California Column coming to New Mexico to throw the Confederates out. More so, there was the largest Civil War battle in the West in New Mexico. One of my favorite New Mexico history books is, “Rebels on the Rio Grande: The Civil War Journal of A.B. Peticolas,” by Don Alberts. When I drive on Interstate 25 between Las Cruces and Albuquerque I visualize the thousands of combatants fighting the Civil War here in New Mexico.
It is wrong that we cannot talk New Mexico history without modern politics getting in the way. The mayor of Las Cruces, Ken Miyagishima, has thrown down the gauntlet that the Las Cruces TEA Party is a racist organization resembling the KKK. He is wrong and is playing politics. I believe he has “Jumped the Shark” as they say in Hollywood. His time in the mayor’s chair should be over because he is using the office of mayor for his own political aspirations and, in doing so, hurting his own constituents.
I am not a TEA Party member but have spoken to their organization once at a well-attended meeting. The group I spoke to was mostly salt-of-the-Earth people, veterans and business leaders.
It is a final wrong to see them otherwise.
Swickard is co-host of the radio talk show News New Mexico, which airs from 6 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on a number of New Mexico radio stations and through streaming. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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