A Georgia state representative has told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the Ku Klux Klan, despite its methods, “made a lot of people straighten up” and compared efforts to remove references to Confederate history to acts of ISIS.
State Rep. Tommy Benton has just introduced a resolution to amend Georgia's constitution to protect the Stone Mountain, Georgia, memorial, often described as the Mt. Rushmore of the Confederacy.
His bill would ensure the likenesses on the mountain "shall never been altered, removed, concealed or obscured in any fashion and shall be preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered and died in their cause.”
It would also require the park around the mountain to be kept as “an appropriate and suitable memorial for the Confederacy.”
The Constitution says Benton asserts the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery, and compares Confederate leaders to the Founding Fathers.
Benton has also introduced a resolution requiring the state to formally recognize Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday on Jan. 19, and a Confederate Memorial Day on April 26. State employees have long received these as paid vacation days, but this year Gov. Nathan Deal had them listed on state calendars as generic holidays.
Benton has been filing similar bills for the past three years, ever since a statue of former U.S. Senator Tom Watson, an avowed white supremacist, was moved out of the Georgia state capitol plaza, station WABE reported.
“We’re not telling them they can’t move them,” but they need to be relocated to a “likewise prominent position,” Benton said. “We’re saying they’ve got to leave them out where people can see them. It is still a part of our history.”
Benton told the Constitution his current bills are a direct response to a senate bill seeking to forbid formally recognizing holidays in honor of the Confederacy or its leaders. Benton described that bill’s sponsor, Sen. Vincent Fort, as “a fanatic” and the bill’s intent as “cultural terrorism.”
“That’s no better than what ISIS is doing, destroying museums and monuments,” he told the Constitution. “I feel very strongly about this. I think it has gone far enough. There is some idea out there that certain parts of history out there don’t matter anymore and that’s a bunch of bunk.”
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.