The Debate Continues
Yet another article recently appeared in regard to featuring General Nathan Bedford Forrest on Mississippi car tags – this time in the Miami Herald. Entitled “Undeserved Honor for Klan Founder,” Pulitzer prize winner Leonard Pitts Jr. goes out of his way to write discrepancies and throw jabs at the State of Mississippi, The Sons of Confederate Veterans, and Governor Haley Barbour as follows:
“The request to honor Forrest was made by the Mississippi branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group often found neck deep in attempts to rewrite and sanitize the odious history of the Confederacy.
“For what it’s worth, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has said he doesn’t think the state legislature will approve the vanity plate. But he rejected a call by the Mississippi NAACP to denounce the idea. “I don’t go around denouncing people,” he said, piously.
“Presumably, he would be equally nonjudgmental if his state were to consider similar honors to Osama bin Laden, convicted spy Robert Hanssen or Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Their legacies, after all, are combined in Forrest: terrorist, traitor, mass murderer.
“On April 12, it will be 150 years since the Civil War began. That is the distance from telegraph lines to smart phones, from steam engines to space shuttles, from Lincoln to Obama. And yet even after all that time, some of us are still unable to conquer the moral cowardice exemplified by Gov. Barbour and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.”
Pretty harsh words for a guy who doesn’t have his facts straight. (Harris and Klebold, Mr. Pitts? Really?) In fact, there are indications that portions of his article were taken from Amazon’s review page of a nonfiction book written by Jack Hurst entitled “Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography.” Unfortunately, Pitts failed to read further down the page, where he could have found the following quote from reviewer Jeffrey R. White:
“On the contary, Forrest fans will find it delightfully free of the anti-Forrest rancor which politically correct historical revisionsists are so famous for. Hurst understands that the so-called “distasteful activities” were 100% legal at the time, and presents them without undue bias. Forrest is in no way presented as any more racist than his contemporaries, and shown as he was, significantly more compassionate toward African Ameicans than many in these reviews would suggest (Did they even read the book? — one wonders).
“…Several longstanding misconceptions are properly laid to rest in this work, among them, that Forrest founded the Kuklos Klan – He did not. He was asked and accepted to be its first Grand Wizard (a title developed in his honor, since he was well-known as the “wizard of the saddle”). Forrest’s subsequent Congressional testimony against the Klan is detailed, as is his (successful) effort to disband the Klan (the present-day Ku Klux Klan is dominated by midwesterners and northerners, is the third such organisation in history, and is descended from the first Klan in name only).”
Mr. Pitts, your article is clearly racist in nature and tone. The South is not attempting to “vindicate a cause long ago lost” as you so eloquently put it. The South is honoring their ancestors who fought and died for a cause they believed in, be it right or wrong, won or lost, politically correct or not. Hopefully, your readers will realize the biased viewpoint you exhibit.