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No More Confederate License Plates In Maryland

Christopher Connelly/WYPR

After South Carolina lawmakers voted to take down the confederate battle flag flying over the state capitol, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday said it’s a fine line to figure out whether the state’s historical monuments are symbols of oppression or of history.

Hogan, speaking with reporters in Annapolis, said the state is no longer making Sons of the Confederacy license plates, and that he thinks the flag in South Carolina should come down. But he said that the Civil War is part of the state’s history, and going much further verges on “political correctness run amok.”

“We just opened, a couple days ago, the old senate chamber where George Washington resigned his commission. George Washington was a slave owner. Should we remove him from the state house?  I mean, how far does it go?” Hogan said.

Hogan said he wants to be sensitive to people’s feelings and doesn’t want to offend people. But he says people have the right to free speech as well.

Asked if he would favor a review process for confederate monuments and symbols on state land, like Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake ordered in Baltimore City to assess whether confederate statues in the city should be removed, the governor said he was not interested.

The debate about the proper place of confederate symbols in the US has been elevated since the shooting of nine members of an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., allegedly by a white supremacist. One item that has drawn criticism in Maryland is a statue of Roger Taney that sits on the state house grounds in Annapolis. Taney was a chief justice of the supreme court who, in 1857, authored the opinion in Dred Scott v Sanford, which held that people of African descent could not be considered citizens under the Constitution.

Hogan rejected the idea of removing the statue, noting that a statue of Thurgood Marshall sits on the other side of the state house. Marshall successfully argued for school desegregation in Brown v. Board of Education and became the first African-American justice of the US Supreme Court.  “They’re both part of our history,” Hogan said.

The governor weighed in on the confederate flag debate at a press conference where he announced a commission that will review the state’s regulatory climate. Hogan won office after campaigning on the promise to make the state more business friendly. He says the regulatory review is making good on that pledge.

Christopher Connelly is a political reporter for WYPR, covering the day-to-day movement and machinations in Annapolis. He comes to WYPR from NPR, where he was a Joan B. Kroc Fellow, produced for weekend All Things Considered and worked as a rundown editor for All Things Considered. Chris has a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley. He’s reported for KALW (San Francisco), KUSP (Santa Cruz, Calif.) and KJZZ (Phoenix), and worked at StoryCorps in Brooklyn, N.Y. He’s filed stories on a range of topics, from a shortage of dog blood in canine blood banks to heroin addicts in Tanzania. He got his start in public radio at WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, when he was a student at Antioch College.