Wednesday, February 16, 2011


So we have people in Mississippi who want to put Nathan Bedford Forrest on a license plate that people can buy.

In this CNN video clip we have a Greg Stewart arguing that Forrest was a brilliant Confederate general and so deserves this honor on some level.

There is so much to say about this kind of thing, but I'll confine myself to just a few points. In this clip the men debated whether or not Forrest was the first grand wizard of the KKK. Of course if he was, even Stewart would have to back off the endorsement of the license plate. What wasn't in dispute is that Forest was a slave trader and owner. This, apparently, is not a deal-breaker for the reprehensible Mr. Stewart.

But what wasn't really touched on was why Gen. Forrest should be honored at all. If he was an undisputed slave trader, what is the actual point behind honoring him? I agree that not every confederate soldier should be condemned for his part in that revolt, but why go out of our way to honor them? What good did any of them perform? It is an obvious attempt at glorifying a racially divisive figure. And that glorification is horrid and disgusting at worst, and stupid and ignorant at best.


JimII said...

It is frustrating how little common ground there is. I suppose these new racists are not really new; they just feel more recently empowered. Maybe it is good to get things out in the open.

Matt Dick said...

Do you think there are some people who are celebrating Forrest who are *not* racists? These would be people who legitimately see southern culture as being inherited from this time frame, but see slavery as a regrettable rider on that larger loss.

I don't know that I buy it, but I want to leave the door open, because if we don't, then I don't *want* common ground with them.

Matt Dick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JimII said...

At some point, American culture deemed racism to be bad; slavery was bad; Japanese internment camps were bad; whites only signs were bad.

Today, we have people challenging these positions. Rand Paul thinks that a private business should be allowed to employ only whites. I think it was Hugh Hewitt that I heard on talk radio justifying the internment camps. And, we have a widespread move to celebrate confederate heroes along side Martin Luther King Day.

Honoring the founder of the KKK seems to present the similar formula. Pose a facially non-racist justification to give cover to supporters. Now, are there supporters that buy the facially non-racist justification? Perhaps. I suspect, however, that the vast majority are using the justification for cover in the same way the sponsors are.

The common ground that I want to find with them is not a compromise part way. I would like for us all to be able to agree and that racism is bad.