Republican Quotes KKK Grand Wizard on House Floor | Harper's Magazine

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Republican Quotes KKK Grand Wizard on House Floor


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.

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