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On Sunday, I wrote about the current penchant for counterfeiting Winston Churchill, including effort to pass off Donald Rumsfeld as a Churchill-look-alike. Earlier I documented the GOP tendency to utter fraudulent quotations from Abraham Lincoln at the drop of a hat. The debasement of two great icons of the English-speaking world is one of the Orwellian traits of the Bush-era Republican Party, and evidence of the essential fraudulence of its historical message.
But let us today salute Representative Ted Poe, a Republican from Beaumont, Texas, who trod to the well of the House today to deliver remarks including a quotation of a man who truly does stand in the image of the DeLay-Rove-Bush Republican Party: Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Making his fortune in the slave trade, Forrest became a zealous advocate of state’s rights in the face of the abolition movement. He emerged as a particularly ruthless commander in the Civil War, and his was associated with regular threats to put captives “to the sword” if they did not surrender. Indeed, his ruthlessness was particularly focused upon black soldiers fighting for the north–at the Battle of Fort Pillow, for instance, only 90 of the 252 blacks manning the garrison survived. Following the war, Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, leading the organization on its rapid political and social rise as its vigilantism swept the American South. He later denied a leadership role, saying he was merely “associated” with the KKK.
Truly, Nathan Bedford Forrest is a man who represents the very essence of today’s Republican Party. They can have him.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”