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Assisting descendants of worthy Confederates in securing a proper education since 1915. Courtesy of the Childress County Heritage Museum in partnership with The Portal to Texas History, a digital repository hosted by the University of North Texas Libraries.

In 2022, a 15-year-old Virginia Beach girl named Simone Nied began a modest campaign to remove the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) from the list of nonprofits afforded exemptions from real estate, deed recordation, and personal property taxes in the state of Virginia. The “White House” of the Confederacy was located in Richmond, where Confederate President Jefferson Davis lived during the Civil War. Nied’s efforts seemed Sisyphean.

But earlier this year, a bill stripping the UDC of tax breaks was passed in the Virginia House of Delegates, and in early February — with two Republicans joining all 21 Democrats — the Virginia Senate agreed. The legislation went to Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who did what most spineless pols do when they want to stay in office — he punted. The GOP leader inserted red tape to require lawmakers to pass the bill again in 2025 and added an amendment to require the state’s Department of Taxation to study Virginia’s recordation tax exemptions and their effect on state revenues.

In the meantime, I also marvel at the preposterousness of the affair. How did the United Daughters of the Confederacy receive tax breaks in the first place, and why have they been extended into the 21st century? Is insurrection a religion? Didn’t the Confederacy’s insurrection comprise the exact opposite of a nonprofit campaign? Wasn’t the entire war waged to protect the profits reaped by the Southern white aristocracy from slave labor?

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Does Texas have a chapter of the UDC?

We do, and it’s taxed just like a church. And here’s part of its mission statement.

 

The United Daughters of the Confederacy is a nonprofit organization formed by the joining of many local groups whose purpose was to care for Confederate Veterans and their families, in life and death, and to keep alive the memory of our Southern heritage.

The Texas Division, UDC was officially organized in 1896. Today, the Texas Division continues the work of our predecessors. We are dedicated to the purpose of honoring the memory of our Confederate ancestors; protecting, preserving and marking the places made historic by Confederate valor; collecting and preserving the material for a truthful history of the War Between the States; recording the participation of Southern women in their patient endurance of hardship and patriotic devotion during and after the War Between the States; fulfilling the sacred duty of benevolence toward the survivors and those dependent upon them; assisting descendants of worthy Confederates in securing a proper education; and honoring the service of veterans from all wars as well as active duty military personnel.

 

“Collecting and preserving the material for a truthful history of the War Between the States”? “Assisting descendants of worthy Confederates in securing a proper education”?!

Talk about a prophetic “nonprofit.” Sounds like the perfect recipe for the current Texas legislature.

But it begs a legitimate question. Do any brave teenagers reside in the Lone Star State?

And before any of you Bonnie (or Donnie) Rebs get your hackles up, take a wee gander of what the original incarnation of the UDC trotted out as a position statement on education in Texas in 1915:

 

Strict censorship is the thing that will bring the honest truth. That is what we are working for, and that is what we are going to have. — Mrs. M.M. Birge, chairwoman of the Textbook Committee, Proceedings of the 20th Annual Convention of the Texas Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy

An answer before a question.

A dictate to ensure denial.

A mandate for seditious ignorance.

The current red-state agenda around these parts was baked into the proverbial cake, and now it’s too late. A legislature full of conservative feebs is pushing for more voucher programs for institutes of Anglocentric propaganda, and the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy is getting a tax break for the Lost Cause indoctrination that they engineered.

The latent term is kakistocracy.

Thanks to the UDC, the conservative playbook has been the script for Texas education for over a century. Because Texas conservatives want to preserve “the honest truth.” Because Texas conservatives don’t believe “the honest truth” should include the monstrous atrocities they committed or the regime of inhumanity they perpetuated.

The UDC has serious daddy issues, and our tax dollars have been helping them sweep the truth under the rug for decades.

 

Fort Worth native E.R. Bills is the author of The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas and Letters from Texas, 2021-2023.

 

This column reflects the opinions and fact-gathering of the author(s) and only the author(s) and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for clarity and concision.

 

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