This should not be, and it cannot be. We cannot allow the state of Mississippi to put its stamp of approval on the memory of so odious, so miserable, so unforgivable a figure as Nathan Bedford Forrest.
As many of you may already know, Mississippi is considering a measure to put Forrest's ugly mug on a commemorative Civil War sesquicentennial license plate. This, of course, is the same Forrest who earned his considerable pre-war fortune as one of the South's most successful slave traders, who stood by as his soldiers massacred surrendered African-American troops at Fort Pillow, and who topped off his illustrious personal history as a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
I don't care if Shelby Foote called him one of the authentic geniuses of the Civil War. I don't care if he's slowly taking Jefferson Davis's place among the 'Holy Trinity' of the Confederacy. I don't care if he was a 'self-made man' from the hardscrabble frontier. Forrest's memory is, or should be offensive, not only to African-Americans, but to all Americans. No amount of military 'genius,' no feat or maneuver on a battlefield near or far will make Forrest anything more than what he was: a grim manifestation of America's most hateful legacy and the author of countless sorrows.