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Old 02-15-2011, 09:58 AM   #1
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License Plate Proposed To Honor KKK Leader

By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS
The Associated Press
updated 2/10/2011

JACKSON, Miss. — A fight is brewing in Mississippi over a proposal to issue specialty license plates honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans wants to sponsor a series of state-issued license plates to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which it calls the "War Between the States." The group proposes a different design each year between now and 2015, with Forrest slated for 2014.

"Seriously?" state NAACP president Derrick Johnson said when he was told about the Forrest plate. "Wow."

Forrest, a Tennessee native, is revered by some as a military genius and reviled by others for leading the 1864 massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tenn. Forrest was a Klan grand wizard in Tennessee after the war.

Sons of Confederate Veterans member Greg Stewart said he believes Forrest distanced himself from the Klan later in life. It's a point many historians agree upon, though some believe it was too little, too late, because the Klan had already turned violent before Forrest left.

"If Christian redemption means anything — and we all want redemption, I think — he redeemed himself in his own time, in his own actions, in his own words," Stewart said. "We should respect that."

State Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said legislators would have to approve a series of Civil War license plates. She said if every group that has a specialty license plate wanted a redesign every year, it would take an inordinate amount time from Department of Revenue employees who have other duties.

SCV has not decided what the Forrest license plate would look like, Stewart said. Opponents are using their imagination.

A Facebook group called "Mississippians Against The Commemoration Of Grand Wizard Nathan Forrest" features a drawing of a hooded klansman in the center of a regular Mississippi car tag.

Robert McElvaine, director of history department at the private Millsaps College in Jackson, joined the Facebook group. McElvaine said Forrest's role at Fort Pillow and involvement in the Klan make him unworthy of being honored, even on the bumpers of cars.

"The idea of celebrating such a person, whatever his accomplishments in other areas may have been, seems like a very poor idea," McElvaine told The Associated Press.

Mississippi lawmakers have shown a decidedly laissez-faire attitude toward allowing a wide variety groups to have specialty license plates, which usually sell for an extra $30 to $50 a year. The state sells more than 100 specialty plates for everything from wildlife conservation to breast cancer awareness. One design says "God Bless America," another depicts Elvis Presley. Among the biggest sellers are NASCAR designs and one with the slogan "Choose Life."

The Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has had a state-issued specialty license plate since 2003 to raise money for restoration of Civil War-era flags. From 2003 through 2010, the design featured a small Confederate battle flag.

The Department of Revenue allowed the group to revise the license plate this year for the first of the Civil War sesquicentennial designs. The 2011 plate, now on sale, depicts the Beauvoir mansion in Biloxi, Miss., the final home of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president.

SCV wants license plates to feature Civil War battles that took place in Mississippi. It proposes a Battle of Corinth design for 2012 and Siege of Vicksburg design for 2013. Stewart said the 2015 plate would be a tribute to Confederate veterans.

Johnson, with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he's not bothered by Civil War commemorative license plates generally. But he said Mississippi shouldn't honor Forrest, who was an early leader of what he calls "a terrorist group."

"He should be viewed in the same light that we view Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden," Johnson said of Forrest. "The state of Mississippi should deny any vanity tags which would highlight racial hatred in this state."

Democratic Rep. Willie Bailey, who handles license plate requests in the House, said he has no problem with SCV seeking any design it wants.

"If they want a tag commemorating veterans of the Confederacy, I don't have a problem with it," said Bailey, who is black. "They have that right. We'll look at it. As long as it's not offensive to anybody, then they have the same rights as anybody else has."
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:20 AM   #2
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Why are so many still stuck in the Civil War?

Redeemed or not, he was a leader during the Klan's most violent era. Shame
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Old 02-15-2011, 03:03 PM   #3
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No one who'd want to buy such a plate in the first place cares whether Forrest "redeemed himself" or not. At most--and the historical record on him has always been conflicting--at most he resigned himself to the inevitability of social change and the hopelessness of violently resisting it; it's hardly as if he became a civil rights spokesman. He might be an interesting figure in a historical sense--from uneducated hillbilly to self-made millionaire (slave trade) to untrained private to lieutenant general to (literally) bankrupt KKK leader--but, a direct participant in far too much evil to warrant any form of public honor.

This is the SCV we're talking about though, so no surprise there.
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Old 02-15-2011, 03:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
"If they want a tag commemorating veterans of the Confederacy, I don't have a problem with it," said Bailey, who is black. "They have that right. We'll look at it. As long as it's not offensive to anybody, then they have the same rights as anybody else has."
How is the commemerating of an ex-Klan member not offensive to anyone?
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:33 PM   #5
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How is the commemerating of an ex-Klan member not offensive to anyone?
I live in Alabama. This is so appalling to me that if they do this, I will literally carry around a can of spray paint and spray over the tags I see.
If they decide to "honor" him on a car tag, they should put Beulah Mae Donalds picture next to him to remind everyone of the person who brought down the KKK in a major way.
I lived down the street from where Michael Donald was hung in 1981.
Michael Donald - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
I still have nightmares from that time and all the times before.
I will not cry anymore, I will act in everyway possible.
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:10 PM   #6
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to Sue. That story is disgustingly sad. And that was just three years before I was born!

Yeeeeeeeeeah, helpful hint, people: if the group involved has the word "Confederate" in their name, it's in your best interests to back away and disassociate yourself as much as humanly possible.

This is so disturbing. What the hell is it about the Civil War that gets these sorts of people all hot and bothered?

Angela
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:05 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=Moonlit_Angel;

This is so disturbing. What the hell is it about the Civil War that gets these sorts of people all hot and bothered?

Angela[/QUOTE]



The death toll is one reason. It was a very bloody war that cast a shadow over generations of Americans.


From http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/dat....cfm?HHID=107:

"Almost as many soldiers died during the Civil War as in all other American wars combined. Union combat deaths totaled 111,904; another 197,388 died of disease, 30,192 in prison, and 24,881 as a result of accidents. Another 277,401 Union solders were wounded. Confederate casualties were nearly as high, with approximately 94,000 combat deaths, 140,000 deaths by disease; and 195,000 men wounded."
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:07 PM   #8
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^Somehow, I don't think it's the death toll that's motivating these folks.
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:13 PM   #9
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^Somehow, I don't think it's the death toll that's motivating these folks.

I know and agree with you to a degree.

I was just replying to the question about the war.
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:21 AM   #10
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Indiana, where I live now (grew up in Mississippi) had 26,672 troop deaths in the Civil War (all causes). Not sure where exactly that ranks once total populations by state are taken into account, but it's definitely up there. Yet the kind of preoccupation with it I grew up around is completely absent here; sure they study it in school like everyone else, but no one goes around thumping their chests about all their Union dead and constantly clamoring for more monuments and other public commemorations of the war. That's the past, it's over, why dwell on it?--that's their attitude.

Not saying there aren't understandable reasons why Southerners (white and black) would be more preoccupied with that history in various ways, but it's not because of war death tolls.
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Old 02-16-2011, 02:14 AM   #11
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how about a vietnam war license plate? yeah, i doubt any state has that. why are some deep south states still so obsessed with the civil war? it happened, you lost, get over it.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:50 AM   #12
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I guess the larger part of me is not really surprised and doesn't really care. I see cars with confederate flags, racial slurs, nazi symbols, crazy religious fundie propaganda.... I mean it certainly wouldn't be the first time someone attached something tactless and offensive to their car.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:55 AM   #13
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I guess the larger part of me is not really surprised and doesn't really care. I see cars with confederate flags, racial slurs, nazi symbols, crazy religious fundie propaganda.... I mean it certainly wouldn't be the first time someone attached something tactless and offensive to their car.
True, but it's a little different when it's state issued.
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:28 PM   #14
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I haven't seen what the proposed designs are, but there is potential for fun:

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Old 02-16-2011, 01:55 PM   #15
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