Article Comment 

Our view: Nathan Bedford Forrest plate a shameful idea




To the rest of the world, the idea is beyond ironic. It''s incredulous. Mississippi, 150 years almost to the day after it seceded from the union, is considering putting Nathan Bedford Forrest on a license plate. 


The "Mississippi Burning" state is a laughing stock again. "Proposed Miss. license plate to honor KKK leader," one headline on the web blares. "Nathan Bedford Forrest on Mississippi license plate?" asks another -- posing a question that shouldn''t need an answer, and one that sadly, many of us would answer in the affirmative. 


An unscientific Dispatch online poll found roughly half of responders thought the plate was a good idea. 


We''re obviously among the half that doesn''t. 


Some background on Mr. Forrest: He wasn''t just a slave owner, he built his fortune as a slave trader, buying and selling human beings as livestock. 


He proved himself an able general of the Confederate army. His attack on Fort Pillow in his native Tennessee is of special note. In that effort, his army massacred hundreds of U.S. soldiers -- black and white -- after the battle had ended. A congressional inquiry found many were burned or buried alive, and black women and children were murdered as the general and his raiders romped up and down the countryside. 


He was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The brave general wouldn''t own up to being a member, much less a leader of the group. But history shows both were the case. The Klan, by the way, is a terrorist organization, and was founded as such. The idea that a "kinder, gentler" Klan existed is ludicrous. 


Those comfortable with putting this person on a state-endorsed license plate point out that later in life, Forrest tried to wash his hands of these things. When the violent activities of the Klan came to light, he asked its members to disband. He called for racial reconciliation in speeches and letters. 


Maybe this was a smokescreen. Or maybe, late in life, he was haunted by his past actions. Perhaps he came to gain a small understanding of the immeasurable death, suffering and hate caused by his own hands, and in his name. 


Why haven''t so many Mississippians been able to reach the same understanding, 150 years later? Why do some want to lionize him? 


Some clearly see a gallant, heroic general in Forrest, the epitome of Southern pride and a venerable icon of our noble Lost Cause. 


We see someone who, in the end, was probably ashamed of himself. 


We''re ashamed too.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment hope commented at 2/22/2011 12:50:00 PM:

To honor Nathan "MAY" help to explain why we are last in everything that is good and first in everything that is bad.


Article Comment frank commented at 2/22/2011 1:37:00 PM:

The license plate is a bad idea and so are the proposals for civil rights museums. It is time to let our racist past fade into the dusty pages of the history books and move on to the future. Anything that provides constant daily reminders of those times should be dismissed. Public sector support should not be extended to any of these proposals.


Article Comment raider commented at 2/22/2011 6:03:00 PM:

Even in Mississippi, it is hard to believe that half the people would think that honoring a civil war general and slave trader is/was a good idea. Add to that, he was the first grand wizard of the KKK. It's just amazing. I could understand maybe 10-20 percent but not half. No wonder race relations are where they are. How can any black person trust that the white person they may be speaking too is not a closet racist?


Article Comment lectrictigre commented at 2/22/2011 7:11:00 PM:

The tag was originally designated to honor a Confederate leader. The racist part came about when the racist organization NAACP raised so much sand about it that the media perked its ears up and grabbed the ball and ran with it. It has been blown out of the water because of this. To top it off the NAACP's bedfellow, Gov Barbour, agreed with them because he kisses the souls of their shoes.


Article Comment raider commented at 2/22/2011 8:21:00 PM:

We should never honor a Confederate general. This person fought against this country. He fought for a foreign country called the Confederate States of America. They elected thier own President and government and tried to destroy the United States of America. They should never be publicly honored in the United States of America.
Why don't we just have a Osama Bin Laden tag also. At least he did fight on the side of the USA at one time and that's one time more Nathan Bedford.


Article Comment callahann commented at 2/22/2011 11:26:00 PM:

The exaggerated statements of raider above not withstanding, I will say that whites continue to implore blacks to move on and to quit living in the past. Yet here represents a double standard by some. Obviously not every white supports a NBF tag, but far too many have expressed support for this. It's time to start walking the walk and leave these kinds of symbols behind. There is no gain in having this tag, just further division. Take the first step, leave it in the past.


Article Comment jaymike76 commented at 2/23/2011 6:16:00 AM:

I think some are correct in saying we should let some things go dealing with slavery but if you don't learn your history then you're doomed to repeat it. I think just the virtue of the guy being in the Klu Klux Klan should throw up red flags. I mean seriously. KKK members get their own license plate. that's all kinds of wrong. For get the slave trading. For get the fighting for the confederacy. Just the KKK is enough for me to vote no.


Article Comment mikemurphy commented at 2/23/2011 6:35:00 AM:

Thank you for the editorial. I am reading Grant's memoirs; this was said of the capture of Fort Pillow.
"Forrest, however, fell back rapidly and attacked the troops at Fort Pillow, a station for the protection of the navigation of the Mississippi River. The garrison consisted of a regiment of colored troops, infantry, and a detachment of Tennessee cavalry. The troops fought bravely, but were overpowered. I will leave Forrest in his dispatches to tell what he did with them.
'The river was dyed'. he says, 'with the blood of the slaughtered for two hundred yards. The appropriate loss was upward of five hundred killed, but few officers escaped. My loss was twenty killed. It is hoped that these facts will demonstrate to the Northern people that negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners.' Subsequently Forrest made a report in which he left out the part which shocks humanity to read."


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 2/23/2011 6:51:00 AM:

And all of you are voting no because you are ignorant. You are ignorant of history. All you know is "he was KKK" and then your little pea-brain shuts off. You don't have the good sense to separate the times and see that things were how they were in those days, and let it be that... no, you have to have it measured by today's standard and when it doesn't fit you puff your lip out and start whining: because you are ignorant.

So if we are to put up with your ignorance, are we to get rid of all civil war parks, all statues, melt down all the cannons and cannon balls? Should we burn down the museums and throw away all the artifacts? Maybe we should burn all the books and other written material that even hints at those days, and shove our heads into the sand to act as if it never happened?

Would that be enough to appease your ignorance?


Article Comment gogetum commented at 2/23/2011 9:41:00 AM:

raider- you and hope claim to be devoted
screaming liberal democrats so should't you honor your leaders from the past. It was your party who started the kkk --wise up. and hope , how about explaining yourself better with some examples of good and bad things you refer to . If you would rather live in another state, you still have the freedom to move but not for long if the usurper in chief has his way about it. Long live Allen Keyes!


Article Comment frank commented at 2/23/2011 10:13:00 AM:

It isn't about forgetting history. It is about learning from it and letting time heal the old wounds. Until we stop scratching the scabs and throwing salt on the sores, they won't heal.

The "ignorant" are those living in the past and not looking to the future. It is 2011 folks. The Civil War ended 146 years ago and the civil rights legislation passed 47 years ago. It is time for all to look forward, not back.


Article Comment dz commented at 2/23/2011 12:03:00 PM:

The general idea of customized license plates is to show support for things. We support wildlife, or education, or our favorite college team. The money that we pay for that tag goes to fund whatever it is that we support. This is why it is so offensive to have Nathan Bedford Forrest's face displayed on Mississippi tags. It's showing that the state is supporting a man who helped destroy so many lives and spread hate. It's not about erasing, ignoring, or being ignorant of history. Museums and memorials are important and should show all sides and all angles of history. However, this tag does not have a place in present-day Mississippi.


Article Comment titus commented at 2/23/2011 12:14:00 PM:

Maybe NBF didn't know the KKK represented bad things when he was in. Kind of like Obama not knowing his preacher was anti-American. If you're against this plate, don't buy it.


Article Comment gogetum commented at 2/23/2011 2:37:00 PM:

Just as another history review for the liberal dems on this thread---the kkk was started by liberal democrats to regain power after the civil war by killing white and black republicans who were in office at the time. Also to threaten those who voted republican to either vote democrat or be killed. There were more black republicans in office then than white republicans so more blacks were killed. Was Mr. Forrest a dem or reub? Republicans were never members of the kkk. Modern day dems have the union leaders to help keep them in office so they don't need the kkk anymore . I did hear today that a union leader is encouraging some of the poor mislead protesters to shed some blood. Very shameful.


Article Comment raider commented at 2/23/2011 5:47:00 PM:

@gogetum: it doesn't matter if NBF was a liberal democrat, liberal republican, conservative or tea partier. I don't know what NBF's political affiliation was back then but it doesn't matter. What does matter is that he was a confederate general, a slave trader and the leader of the KKK. He's not a man that should be honored in the USofA. Not even in Mississippi.
And, as I have told you before...the republican party of today is not Abe Lincoln's republican party.


Article Comment hope commented at 2/23/2011 6:25:00 PM:

@gogetum: I haven't heard anything about a union member calling for bloodshed in the Wisconsin debate, but did hear that a Wisconsin state trooper had been fired because he tweeted to remove the protesters even if you have to use live ammo. You are probably a FAUX fan and like to distort the news as they do.


Article Comment melody commented at 2/23/2011 10:15:00 PM:

hope , you must start keeping up with the news. It was a liberal democrat congressman who called for bloodshed, mike caupano is his name. It does matter , raider, what party Mr. Forrest was, he was a democrat. I'd like to hear more about your take on the big difference in the Republicans from then to now. They passed the civil rights laws back then and the dems repealed them. Then the repubs passed them again in the 60's dispite lbj and the dems efforts to prevent it from happening again. You need to read up , raider, before making goofy statements like hope does.


Article Comment jaymike76 commented at 2/24/2011 3:37:00 AM:

Really? I mean really? This is a discussion? There should be no discussion. I don't care about the "times" back then. The fact that he was in KKK is enough. The fact that he supported slavery is enough. Roscoe, it's your line of thinking that is keeping this non discussion going. Hate has no time period. 2011 hate is the same as 1795 hate along with 1965 hate. As far as that Obama and Rev Wright comment. Not even the same. That dude said things that was being said and is still being said. He just so happened to Obama's pastor at the time and his comments would hurt the future president's campaign. Anyway, the tag should be a no go and a no go for ANYBODY present or past that is associated with not setting a good example for our children to follow.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 2/24/2011 7:20:00 AM:

Oh you're right. Let's erase it and say it never happened. That's how Columbus handles everything, isn't it? The paper won't print it, or give the whole story, and then we'll all just hush up about it, and maybe in a lil while we can pretend it never happened... just like all those senior citizen murders, right?

Just wondering: just how long do ya'll plan to remain slaves? You must enjoy it as you don't seem to be able to move past it. I'm part Native American and if I let myself I can dwell on their "slave days", but I don't see the point in doing it like it's a religion. So you must either enjoy whining about it, or you're getting something out of whining about it. Which is it?

Jaymike: how cliche' of you. "Hate has no time period". Wow, did you author this or is this just some drivel you heard somewhere else? And look at you Mr. Doubletalk..."I don't care about the times back then." But yet there you are, whining about the times back then. Perhaps professional therapy would help?


Article Comment raider commented at 2/24/2011 7:49:00 AM:

@melody: if I explained the difference in the republicans now compared to then, you probably wouldn't understand.


Article Comment hope commented at 2/24/2011 8:18:00 AM:

@gogetum:Please accept my apology.


Article Comment jaymike76 commented at 2/25/2011 7:23:00 AM:

I don't care if it's cliche or not. It's the truth. What does it have to do with it being cliche. I'm not "whining" about anything. I'm simply saying that because something that happened in the past ramifications in the future. Just because you apologize for something doesn't make you forget magically. You still remember it. You still feel it's pain. The reason no African American will ever forget about slavery is because it was such a powerful and terrible time in American history that shapes how it is today. What i would like you to take a look at some events that have happened since 1980 and you tell me that America has a very long way to go before we can say, "Ok we can let that go." A bunch of white texas rednecks drag a black kid behind a truck". "White cops beat and sexually assualt a black dude for no apparent reason." Do I need mention Rodney King. Yeah you can go on thinking that everything is all honkey dorey if you want to. My eyes are wide open.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 2/25/2011 8:50:00 PM:

Several blacks murdered a young white couple after torturing them. Locally, two blacks entered a home taking the owners hostage. All across the country there are black gangs doing who knows what, some to their own race.

So what's your point? Do you think blacks are the only people in the world who have ever had a rough time? If so, I suggest you do a little reading on Native Americans.

You may have your eyes open, but your brain is in neutral. What you are is a militant little fool with a chip on your shoulder that will eventually lead you to either a prison or a hole in the ground. All of the slavery, all of the rednecks, all the other mess has nothing to do with you or your life. You simply have chosen to make it so because that makes for an easy out for you. All you have to do is blame the honkey's and all of your personal shortcomings will be excused. Maybe you've never listened to Mr. Cosby... you should.

I've had things stolen from my property, and I'm 99% sure I know what race was behind it, so what am I suppose to do... hate all blacks? Should I push to have the bridge in Alabama torn down, tear up MLK new statue, or maybe set fire to black radio stations?

You seem lacking in a certain basic understanding of world history. Whites aren't the only race that has ever done a black man wrong. Your own kin in Africa enslaved millions and forced them to work and die in diamond mines. Your own race has, and still is, killing off thousands upon thousands of your fellow blacks in civil wars.

Your eyes may be open, but you seem to see only what you want to see.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 2/26/2011 6:50:00 AM:

"Honkey Dorey"??? LMAO


Article Comment raider commented at 2/26/2011 8:20:00 AM:

@roscoe p. coltrain:
"All of the slavery, all of the rednecks, all the other mess has nothing to do with you or your life."
That statement alone should disqualify you from making any more statements in discussions pertaining to race and race relations. Slavery and the legacy of slavary definitly has a lot to do with people and thier lives, both black and white.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 2/26/2011 7:51:00 PM:

Only if you allow it to do so. As mentioned, I am part Cherokee, and as bad as the Native Americans had it, and to some extent, still do, I do not let that define me. I am proud of my Native American heritage, wouldn't trade it for anything, and refuse to tarnish that heritage by whining about things that happened long before I was born.

If you knew anything about history, and I see no reason to believe that you do, you'd know there isn't a race alive or dead that hasn't been someones bitch throughout time. It's the way humans act and blacks are no different. One look at African history will prove it. It was going on back in the slave trade days, and it is still going on today in the form of genocide, slave labor, and you name it.

Only a fool would set about trying to erase history simply because you didn't care for how the movie ended.

And just so you'd know, I have no, nor did I ever have, any intention of purchasing one of those plates. Instead of whining about a non-issue such as a license plate, why not do your whimpering about this city refusing to uphold laws already on the books, wasting money on a bridge to nowhere just to have a place to sit, and blowing money on soccer fields in a flood zone, not to mention the lil hoodlums running loose all over town running stop signs, screaming their radios so loud they rattle my windows, doing 50-60 mph in a 30 mph residential zone (care to guess what race is doing that up and down my street??)and such?

And please don't tell me to call the Police...been there done it. Was a wasted phone call.


Article Comment raider commented at 2/26/2011 9:34:00 PM:

@roscoe p. coltrain: I stand by my original statement. You are not qualified to speak on this subject. You go from Africa to your neighborhood and in each you are talking about race but you contend that it has nothing to do with a person's life. Nevertheless, this discussion is about honoring a civil war general that was a slave trader and KKK leader. You may choose to forget or discount the suffering of your ancestors but others like myself have not and will not forget. The tag may still be approved but those in power will know that the majority disapproves.
I don't know what race the kids are that pass your house with the music blaring but most of the kids that pass mine with the music blaring is white. For roughly the last 2 years, one kid passes 2 to 3 times a day with the music blaring and evidently he's never been stopped or warned. I guess he is the right color.
Why would I tell you to call the cops? We don't trust them.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 2/27/2011 7:07:00 AM:

And just who might you be to tell who is qualified to do what???

And as for the rest of your post: you area a damn liar, not much of a surprise there, is it?

I had you figured right the first time: you are a foolish little militant child with a 5th grade education. You go right ahead Mr. Wewon'tforget and spend your entire life with that big ole chip on your shoulder. And when they are dropping your ignorant ass into the ground you better know I will be laughing because you spent your entire life boo-hoo'n over water under a bridge. The hallmark of a fool.

And with that, you sir can kiss my ass.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 2/27/2011 8:52:00 AM:

And don't think it wasn't noted that you like to pick and choose what you will answer to and what you won't. It is very obvious to all why you do it... and typical.

Now, I'm am done with your pathetic racist ass.


Article Comment bigbluerider commented at 2/28/2011 10:49:00 PM:

Judging a 19th centenary man by 20first centenary standards is just dumb. NBF was this or that and thats all I need to know. From the the original article through all the comments it is 20first centenary people judging a man from the 19th centenary. All of whom clame to be educated which may be but they never learned how to think


Article Comment frank commented at 3/1/2011 12:48:00 AM:

On to to 20first centenary! Where folks got spell checkers and clame to use 'em.


Article Comment asouthernpartisan commented at 3/1/2011 1:50:00 PM:

I would like the editor or the writer of this article to site his sources on this statement:

"...A congressional inquiry found many were burned or buried alive, and black women and children were murdered as the general and his raiders romped up and down the countryside."

From my research I found that Forrest was exonerated of war crimes in this incident. I have never heard that he wantonly killed anyone especially women and children. The Confederate high command would never have condoned that kind of action by a private, let alone a General Officer. Maybe you have him confused with Sherman whose excesses during the march to the sea have been well documented. Your paper owes General Forrest and his descendants an apology.

Heck I might just move to Mississippi just so I can get one of those plates.

Deo Vindici


Article Comment bigbluerider commented at 3/1/2011 11:51:00 PM:

Frank you caught me being lazy. A habit I picked up texting on the phone, but hay you got to feel superior right. Well I am so happy I could make you feel good. Now can you tell me why its ok to judge a man from 1860 by the standards of the year 2011


Article Comment frank commented at 3/2/2011 1:08:00 PM:

Well blueboy the only judgement I made on here was that it was a bad idea to keep pushing racially charged issues. I think it is time we move on to the 21st century and keep the 19th and 20th tucked away in the history books. We should learn from the past and not continue repeating the negative aspects of it.
As far as judging people: I think God will hold us all to his absolute standards and not some standard relative to the time in which we lived. That's the way I interpret the scripture so I guess that is the best answer I can provide to you.


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