As part of a yearlong celebration of the sesquicentennial anniversary of start of the “War Between The States,” the Mississippi Sons of Confederate Veterans want to honor Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest with a commemorative license plate. Politico reported that the Mississippi NAACP is calling on Gov. Haley Barbour to denounce the idea of creating a commemorative license plate for Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who later went on to lead the KKK.
General Forrest is infamous for ordering the massacre of black Union soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennessee. The confederacy was so incensed by President Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation they issued a standing order that black men, presumably runaway slaves, found in Union uniforms be executed. Apparently, emboldened by the federal government’s post-war failure to court-martial him for sedition and war crimes, he later founded the terrorist organization known as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The rise of the KKK was depicted in D.W. Griffith’s cinematic masterpiece, The Birth of a Nation (1915).
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, and every member of the party of Lincoln should denounce and reject this despicable effort to “honor” a war criminal, a racist and a violent seditionist.
If Governor Barbour truly desires national office, he will speak out on behalf of millions of Americans and denounce this effort honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest as an affront to patriotic Americans. If not, his presidential ambition will be defenestrated. Barbour should be driven from office if he fails to take a stand against this and any commemoration of General Forrest.
Nonetheless, the Sons of Confederate Veterans plan to honor this murderer because he was a “military genius” and a pillar of his community. Apparently, the blood he spilled in defense of white supremacy is not a stain upon the State of Mississippi and the United States of America. It is amazing that vaunted Confederate military geniuses such as Forrest still managed to lose the war. The only reason Confederate officers were not court-martialed was because their victorious West Point classmates took pity upon them and the ragtag remnants of their army.
For some unknown reason, white Southerners have romanticized a disgraceful and disreputable past. Truth is, were it not for the African slave, their forbears would have been nothing more than landless serfs themselves. Instead, they served as cannon fodder for those who thought lesser men should die for their vain glory.
If Mississippi decides to honor the racist Nathan Bedford Forrest, I would join the NAACP in urging a boycott of Mississippi. If Governor Haley Barbour really plans to seek the Republican Presidential nomination, he should denounce the evil that General Nathan Bedford Forrest personified to black Americans in the South. In fact, I call upon all of the Republican candidates for national office to denounce this effort to honor the founder of the KKK. Last year, you couldn’t keep a politician from running over little old ladies to get to a microphone to denounce the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Ladies and gentlemen of the Republican Party, lace up your running shoes.
UPDATE: My friend, Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Nassau) informs me that his contact in the Mississippi State House says that the SCV commemorative license plate is D.O.A. there. Let’s raise a toast to the Union.