For those of you who haven’t yet heard, my wonderful state of Mississippi has recently been involved in an interesting controversy. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, are issuing five different license plate tags for special events that took place in the state during the war. This year will feature Beavoir, which is the final home of Jefferson Davis in Biloxi. Next year will honor the Battle of Corinth, and in 2013, the seige of Vicksburg will be featured. Two others will also be issued, one of which has received an enormous amount of attention.
Last week, an SCV representative spoke to our local camp about the tags, and faced criticism for overlooking the inclusion of the SCV logo on the new tag. But the most interesting complaint centered around a future tag that will feature General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Since Compatriot Stewart spoke, it seems all hell has broken loose in regard to the media pouncing upon this story and twisting it into a racial issue.
The first news story occurred last week on a local TV station. A retired Memphis judge complained about General Forrest being featured on a tag, saying that it was racist, and compared General Forrest to Hitler. Another TV station jumped on board, and soon, the NAACP got involved as well, crying foul since Forrest was supposedly the founder of the KKK. Not only that, they claimed him to be the “Grand Wizard.”
Now Governor Barbour has proclaimed that the tag will definitely not be issued. I’m not sure how he has the authority to declare this, since last time I checked, this is a free country. The SCV is merely displaying their right to pay homage to the Civil War, but it seems they are always walking that fine line between patriotism and racism. Too many ignorant people assume that the SCV is associated with the KKK, but this assumption is completely false.
As to the issue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, he was never involved with the KKK, he was found innocent of all charges (General Sherman was one of the investigators), and was not present during the massacre at Ft. Pillow. He apologized for any involvement, and denounced the KKK in 1867 after it became too violent. Before certain groups declare such falsehoods, they should learn their history. If the NAACP and other parties think the SCV is racist, perhaps they should take a look in the mirror. (A survey recently conducted by a Jackson, Mississippi TV station showed that the majority of voters thought the NBF car tag should be issued.)