The 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."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- 10 things you need to know today: August 21, 2014
- Why your employer should clean your house and do your laundry
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Don't listen to Paul Ryan: The GOP is still the party of makers and takers
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The real lesson of Rick Perry's mug shot
- The big policy question libertarians can't answer
Subscribe to the Week