[guest post by Dana]
And to think that in 1921, this was proclaimed a legal holiday:
Gov. Bill Lee has proclaimed Saturday as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee, a day of observation to honor the former Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader whose bust is on display in the state Capitol.
Per state law, the Tennessee governor is tasked with issuing proclamations for six separate days of special observation, three of which, including the July 13 Forrest Day, pertain to the Confederacy.
Lee — and governors who have come before him — are also required by state law to proclaim Jan. 19 as Robert E. Lee Day, honoring the commander of the Confederate Army, as well as June 3 Confederate Decoration Day, otherwise known as Confederate Memorial Day and the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Here is the wording on the proclamation:
While Democrats have tried to change law and failed, it’s puzzling that Gov. Lee doesn’t seem interested in making any such effort himself:
“I signed the bill because the law requires that I do that and I haven’t looked at changing that law,” Lee said Thursday.
He declined to say whether he believed state law should be changed to no longer require the governor to issue such proclamations or whether he had reservations about doing so.
“I haven’t even looked at that law, other than knowing I needed to comply with it, so that’s what I did,” Lee said. “When we look at the law, then we’ll see.”
A brief overview of Forrest:
Nathan Bedford Forrest, (born July 13, 1821, near Chapel Hill, Tennessee, U.S.—died October 29, 1877, Memphis, Tennessee), Confederate cavalry commander in the American Civil War (1861–65) who was often described as a “born military genius.” His rule of action, “Get there first with the most men,” became one of the most often quoted statements of the war. Forrest is also one of the most controversial figures from the Civil War era. His command was responsible for the massacre of African American Union troops stationed at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, in April 1864, and he served as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in the early years of Reconstruction.
Sen. Ted Cruz pushed back against the proclamation:
This is WRONG. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general & a delegate to the 1868 Democratic Convention. He was also a slave trader & the 1st Grand Wizard of the KKK. Tennessee should not have an official day (tomorrow) honoring him. Change the law.
American history is complicated. As a general matter, we shouldn’t be tearing down historical statues or erasing our Founders, even though they were imperfect men. But we should also provide context where we can. And, we shouldn’t be issuing proclamations today honoring Klansmen.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)
UPDATE FROM PATTERICO: Stirring statement from Cruz. Those are his principles and he’s sticking with them, unless sticking with them might endanger his re-election prospects. Maybe Trump can come out in support of the Governor’s action, causing Cruz to change his mind.