It’s Not Heritage; it’s Hate.

by Renee Martin

You would think that in the year 2012, we would have come far enough to agree that symbols which represent racism and degradation could universally be decided to be wrong.  I keep hearing about this post racial time which we supposedly live in, but have yet to actually see anything even remotely resembling it.  We cannot be post racial due to the fact that whiteness still holds all of the social power and because symbols which commemorate white supremacy are very much still celebrated.  Consider things like civil war re-enactments or the defense that white southerners are celebrating their heritage when they support and fly the confederate flag, rather than longing for a time in history when blacks were legally property, to be abused at will.  There is also the continued lie that the civil war was not about slavery, though the articles of secession clearly state this to be a fact.   This southern pride movement is about revisionism in the hopes of making their virulently racist ideals publicly palatable.

In 2000, the Friends of Forrest spent 21,000 dollars to erect a seven foot tall monument commemorating the life of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the father of the KKK.  Even then, there was great controversy regarding this monument because Selma served as the location for important civil rights activism.  This history was overlooked by the Friends of Forrest and The Sons of Confederate Veterans to tout the fact that Forrest was an aggressive defender of the South and unsuccessfully fought the battle of Selma during the civil war.  The statue now resides at Confederate Circle in the city’s Old Live Oak Cemetery, after repeated acts of vandalism forced it to be moved from its original location at the Smitherman Building.

Regardless of his military bravery, the fact remains that even during his lifetime, Forrest was on the wrong side of history.  He fought valiantly to defend a traitorous regime intent on continued subjugation of Blacks through slavery.  Once the south was defeated, he worked tirelessly to create the KKK, which would go on to be a terrorist organization.  Only in a white supremacist state could such a monument find a home, in a city which quickly became the frontline for civil rights activism. History is often written by the victors, but when it comes to the civil war, such notions are quickly tossed aside because it benefits white supremacy to cast true human evil as good.

Unfortunately, this monument isn’t even the only one commemorating this hateful man that not only started the KKK, but demanded that his troops murder black soldiers who surrendered.  This makes Forrest a war criminal as far as I am concerned.  Efforts to create Forrest as a hero have even been extended to an attempt to create vanity license plates in Mississippi.  Though the NAACP spoke out against such a proposal, Republican Governor Haley Barbour  refused to make a public disavowal.

“I don’t go around denouncing people,” he said, according to the Associated Press, when asked for a response to the proposal. “That’s not going to happen. I don’t even denounce the news media.” If you cannot call Nathan Bedford Forrest a scurrilous human being beneath contempt, who then may we rightfully attack?

Unfortunately, the father of the KKK is in the media again. In March, the bust of Forrest was removed from the monument, causing the Friends of Forrest to decide to not only make improvements but to enlarge the already 7-foot monument.  The decision has been defended using free speech.

“We’re fortunate to live in a country where we each could have our own opinion and my hero may be a villain to you, and you may have some heroes that I don’t think much of, but we’re both allowed to venerate our heroes,” said Todd Kiscaden with the Friends of Forrest.

The problem of course is that his hero was a truly hateful man and this monument further seeks the continuation of his vile life mission.  Even if we accept their fallacious defence of free speech, this monument cannot even be rightfully cast as speech because it is an inanimate object, which does not communicate ideas.  Even if one is generous, their supposed speech is filled with historical inaccuracies and at best half truths.  The idea that the father of a terrorist organization deserves to be lionized flies in the face of the public good.  Even Georgia removed its statue of Stalin, though uncle Joe was born there. What excuse can there be for the continued elevation of Nathan Bedford Forrest considering his ties with Selma are loose at best?

There is a petition currently being run by Change.org to stop the improvement of the Forrest statue and I for one completely agree with it.  At the time this article was written, there were 14,316 supporters and that is shameful considering everything that Forrest stood for in his lifetime.  I would prefer to never see this man’s name in the media ever again but if it is to happen, he must be actively and passionately denounced at every turn.  There is no room in a civilized society to engage in revisionism or elevate the life of someone so evil.  Unlike Cesar, there is no good to live on from Forrest’s life and his evil lives not in his bones, but in the legacy that continues to haunt blacks to this day.

 

  • Bree

    Wow! I didn’t know about this. It’s amazing what they don’t teach in high school

  • http://transgriot.blogspot.com TransGriot

    I get sick of Southern revisionists who are pissed off that they lost the ‘War To Perpetuate Slavery’ continuing to celebrate racist traitors that fought an armed rebellion against the US Government to keep our ancestors in chains.

    The CSA troops did indeed fight bravely and well, but on the wrong side of history. 150 years later the United States still is dealing with toxic aftermath of our original sin of slavery .and the political ideas that manifest themselves in Republican party politics such as ‘states rights’ and the propensity to tell the Big Lie.

  • fancypants

    As someone who lives in a southern CITY I see the confederate flag daily, be it on a license plate (daughter/sons of the confederacy), a bumper sticker, t-shirt etc. It is a complex existence for a person of color. The University of Mississippi is a great school, but you expect me to attend the university with pride when the symbol of the oppression of my people is literally hangning over my head? It’s just a part of their southern heritage, right? Their great uncle was a conferate soldier. People from the North are referred to as Yankees (still!).

    My thing is how can you fly a flag (literally and figuratively) for a cause and not be expected to be held to task for what that cause embodies? It’s like someone walking around with a blue rag hanging from their back pocket stating that they aren’t really a Crip, but their neighborhood was Crip territory so it’s a part of their “heritage.” Let just see if their butt doesn’t get ripped to shreds.

  • yazikus

    I just finished reading more about him on Wikipedia and am shocked. He even has a state park named after him, and countless memorials around the state. University buildings are named after him. He made his fortune selling slaves. Why on earth would anyone want him as a role model? Shame on them for continuing to honor such a awful man.

  • http://melinareviews.wordpress.com AnansiDaughter

    This is so disgusting. It is bad enough that our society allows this constant glorification of this time period through films like Gone With the Wind, but now they want to put statues to honor people who slaughter black surrendering soldiers?

  • LemonNLime

    This extends beyond the North-South dynamic. How about the states that want to remove any mention of the “founding fathers” profiting from slaves. Clearly they understood the concept of freedom because the fought for it from England but they conveniently ignored it when it came to their pockets and the people enslaved on their property.

    And this, “Even if we accept their fallacious defence of free speech, this monument cannot even be rightfully cast as speech because it is an inanimate object, which does not communicate ideas.”

    I disagree. Clearly this statue does communicate an idea. For us it is hatred, for them it is pride. If it didn’t communicate and idea or message, you would not have written an article dedicated to it.

  • K. Michel

    I’m not surprised in the slightest. People need to realize that just because we all live in the same country doesn’t mean we will all play on the same team. These are people who are, and will be, teaching their children not to interact with anyone who’s of a different race or ethnicity. Why would they care about the country as a whole when they’d probably never leave Alabama?

  • Lindiwe

    It’s time for blacks world wide to go to the united nation’s. I have been thinking about it, the colonies need to be paid, the dutch ,the english have to pay countries like South African and all over Africa for what theve done. We nned to start undoing the law’s they made to protect themselves.

    The united Nationas was made for ”for such” you people get my drift. We nned to start taking some goverments to court, and have cases heard, we nened to get to the Untited Natioans and start the court hearings, seriously think some peopel need to rethink or they may have civil war on there hands.

    I still want my pound of flesh for being born under aparthied, I want the Bristihs to pay, and i want the duct to pay, and I want to drain them dry!

    UN is were blacks need to gather around its time, and seriously my dream I would like the South African Goverment to start taking the ”colony makers” to court im Angry, Im angry for you people in America I fed up, and its time black people took charge

  • Barbara

    Black Americans protested against Apartheid in South Africa. If your government went to the UN, I’m sure we will get involved in support of your effort.

  • http://ClutchMagazineOnline Nikita

    If there were people who wanted to put a statue of Osama bin Laden up to “vocalize” their free speech, people would definitely have a conniption and protest it and it will never see the light of day. People want to throw around free speech but the reality is, no one in there right minds want to honor historical figures who were so negative and degrading. I need these people in the South to get a grip on reality.

  • Martin Luther King III

    I love how this site claims to be anti-racist, yet almost every article features references to “whiteness” or “white people” in a negative sense. If a site made to appeal exclusively to Caucasians were to talk about “blackness” or “black people” in a similar sense, it would be considered a hate site.

    You’re not fighting racial stereotypes, you’re helping them thrive by continuing to draw lines between “white” and “black”. Yes, there are still racist whites, but there are also racist blacks, and it’s one-sided sites like this that harm the future of diversity.

    If you really want racism to end, embrace the white man as your brother.

    If you want to see the end of racial hatred, do no ask yourself, “What is best for black people?” Instead, ask yourself, “What is best for humanity?”

    If you’re really against racism, quit drawing double-standards and living in the past. African-Americans have a horrible history in the United States, but if we want to move past that history, we need to love instead of focusing on the negative.

  • Tracy

    lmao

  • http://www.facebook.com/jane.laplain Jane Laplain

    @Martin Luther. Your false equivalence is disgusting. Whenever the power to oppress is NOT symmetrical it is indeed necessary to point out the actors in that oppression. In regards to Racism, Whiteness, ie., the european imperialist concept invented specifically to oppress non-european peoples, is the main actor in white supremacist oppression of black and brown people.

    In other words, white supremacy is alive and well and that bears pointing out. People like you who pretend that pointing it out is just as divisive or wrong as being a white supremacist/racist are either dishonest or willfully blind.

  • Pearlsrevealed

    +1 Well said.

  • iCrossmyHeart

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahha…..YOU CAN’T ARGUE WITH STUPID. NO YOU CANNOT.

    @Andrea…I cannot argue with you. If you must know why refer to my statement above.

  • Leonard Smalls

    Your comment arguably reflects the abysmal state of the intellectual culture of Colored Society.

  • Leonard Smalls

    I’m surprised that your surprised. Furthermore, it is a sad revelation that the intellectual culture of contemporary Colored society breeds such an erroneous view of reality.

  • Leonard Smalls

    Well said.

  • Leonard Smalls

    Unfortunately, kind Sir., you are gladly mistaken. Restoration of our former greatness lies not in institutions their institutions. Be not mislead, a true reading of history fails to support your conclusory statement

  • Leonard Smalls

    Often times we are unable to control the actions of others. However, we can control our own actions.

  • al

    I don’t know I signed the petition at changed.org but the more I study on this man the more I’m unsure. He had black soldiers surve in his elite unit and while he had some start though this is disputed even then he claimed no connection just sympathy for the kkk in the KKK he said it was to against norterners that came down and took advantage of the south..he tryed to disband it a few years later when it got out of hand and left. He was also one of the first white speakers for the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association which was an organzation run by southern blacks and seems he was well recieved. He appairently hired blacks and whites equelly even when a majority of notherners wouldn’t even do that. Most historians that the pillow massacure happend though there are conflicting reports from both sides. And reports seem that quite a few blacks (over a thousand) showed up at his funeral. So if they forgave him then then isn’t that good enough…this of course is if the reports are true. I myself don’t know what to think.

  • cc iacpvino

    The south was right

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