Why do Southerners, under the cover of celebrating their heritage, choose to commemorate the very worst parts of their history? Why does a region that wears its patriotism on its sleeve want to honor a massive act of treason aimed at breaking up the United States, which took the lives of at least 620,000 Americans and devastated the Southern economy for generations? Why, in honoring that treason, would they pick the worst of the worst among the leaders of the great treason?
Of course I'm talking about the proposal to to issue a commemorative license plate in Mississippi honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was a slave trader before the war. During the war, he committed the war crime of massacring Union soldiers who had surrendered. After the war, he was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Supporters of the plate say Forrest late disavowed the Klan and that makes everything else okay.
The Mississippi DMV site shows 159 different licenses plate designs. Only one of them commemorates a person: Elvis (though mostly associated with Memphis, TN, he was born in Mississippi). It's not like the Civil War was the only thing that happened in Mississippi history or that Elvis and Forrest were the only famous people come out of the state. Mississippi is the home of the delta blues. Why not give Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson, or Lead Belly plates before honoring treasonous war criminals. How about Mississippi's writers? Mississippi gave us William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, and Red Barber.
Shouldn't Medgar Evers get a plate before a slave merchant?