Tuesday, May 8, 2007

GOP love affair with the KKK continues

What's worse than quoting a founding leader of the KKK? Quoting him incorrectly. The lowdown:
Roll Call reports today that a House Republican delivered a foreign policy speech yesterday in which he quoted Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the KKK.
On Monday, Rep. Ted Poe took to the House floor to discuss foreign policy matters. To make a point, the Texas Republican invoked the words of Civil War Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest: “Git thar fustest with the mostest.”
The quotation got some floor watchers’ attention pretty quickly. Forrest is a controversial figure who was one of the Klan’s first grand wizards. Although the Civil War hero (if you were a Confederate, that is) ultimately abandoned the Klan for its violent tactics, he continues to kick up dust.
“Controversial figure” doesn’t quite cut it. Most lists of the worst Americans in U.S. history include Nathan Bedford Forrest near the top. That’s what happens when someone creates the KKK to terrorize freed slaves and their allies, after taking up arms against the United States. What on earth would possess a GOP lawmaker to quote Forrest on the House floor?
Poe’s spokesperson told Roll Call, “The reference to Forrest was used in an historical context comparing the request to Congress for support of the Confederate troops to the request that is being made today by our Generals in Iraq.”
First, the comparison doesn’t make any sense. Second, when one bolsters their argument with the words of one of the most controversial Americans ever, rationalizing it as a historical comparison is unpersuasive.
Shouldn’t this be a bigger deal? Given all of the racial problems of the Republican Party, isn’t it rather scandalous for a Republican lawmaker to rely on the words of the founder of the KKK?

Post Script: And, just as an aside, the quote Poe used was wrong.
[A]ccording to historians, Forrest didn’t really say the line that’s so often attributed to him. “Do not, under any circumstances whatever, quote Forrest as saying ‘fustest’ and ‘mostest’,” Civil War scholar Bruce Catton wrote in his 1971 book, “The Civil War.” Catton wrote that Forrest actually believed the essence of strategy — and the proper quote — was “to git thar fust with the most men.”
What’s worse than quoting the founder of the KKK on the House floor? Quoting him incorrectly.
Update: ThinkProgress has the video.
I've occasionally mentioned the apparent love affair between Republican politicians and white supremacist hate groups. Add this goon to the list.

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