he story: To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a Southern heritage group wants to honor Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest by putting him on special state-issued license plates in 2014. Though Forrest was apparently a talented general, his controversial post-war career — when he served as the first Grand Wizard of the nascent Ku Klux Klan — is provoking opposition to the Sons of Confederate Veterans' plan. (Watch a report about the controversy)
The reaction: Forrest and his brand of "racial hatred" shouldn't be celebrated, says Derrick Johnson at the NAACP, as quoted by the Associated Press. Forrest "should be viewed in the same light that we view Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden." Not so fast, says Greg Stewart, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, also quoted by the AP. Forrest softened his views and "redeemed himself" later in life. Actually, that's simply "false," says Mark Potok at The Huffington Post. Forrest was a "homicidal bully" known for "personally bullwhipping slaves." To pretend otherwise is simply to imagine "a Southern past that never was."
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