Statue of Confederate general not an embarrassment
In response to Beverly Keel’s column "If I was elected mayor, this is what I’d do," I wanted to point out her incorrect conclusions in order to be politically correct.
Part of that article was her idea to place large signs on I-65 to block the view of the flags and statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, whom she describes as "a founder of the Ku Klux Klan." She also refers to the statue as an "embarrassment to this area for more than a decade" that "sends the wrong message."
Gen. Forrest did not participate in the formation of the KKK, a point made on a recent public television show.
The KKK was formed by some ex-Confederate soldiers essentially as a social club. It began with three or four members, but later expanded. At the same time, Gov. William Brownlow (selected by Unionists) followed the very hard line of punishing the South by disenfranchising men who had served as Confederate soldiers and enfranchising others such as former slaves — in effect, he took revenge on former Confederates and those who had supported the Confederacy. He even went so far as to bring some opposing members of the state legislature in front of a firing squad in order to gain control over legislative actions. He also called out the militia to eliminate the Klan. As a result, some members of the Klan knew they were to come under attack and had no leadership.
Members of the Klan approached Forrest to lead them against Brownlow’s militia. Forrest initially agreed to be their leader, but found he was unable. Describing the former soldiers as disorganized and undisciplined, he resigned.
We know "the victors write the history." The story of Nathan Bedford Forrest is a great example. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman described Forrest as the best cavalry general of the war.
Considering Forrest’s accomplishments and reputation, why should that statue be an "embarrassment" to anyone? Tennesseans should be proud to see one of their own recognized with a statue, and the flags he fought for. It is certainly not an embarrassment, unless one is endeavoring to place political correctness above facts.
The only valid concern one might have about the statue is the way Forrest is depicted — it appears to me to be lacking in the reproduction of the actual likeness of Forrest. Surely it could have been made to look more like the real person. People should be proud to have that statue available for all to see.
Now if the statue was that of Gov. Brownlow instead, that would be an embarrassment.
William S. Rodgers