The Ku Klux Klan has gotten a bad rap, according to one Georgia lawmaker. He says the terror group “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order” that “made a lot of people straighten up.”
That leader is now hellbent on stopping the “cultural cleansing” of the South’s heritage. So far this year, State Rep. Tommy Benton (R) has co-sponsored two bills to preserve the Confederate’s legacy.
Following the massacre at the historic Emanuel AME Church last year, activists and lawmakers have pushed to remove Confederate symbols in the South. According to Benton, those efforts constitute “cultural terrorism,” akin to what ISIS is doing.
“That’s no better than what ISIS is doing, destroying museums and monuments,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). “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.”
So on Wednesday, Benton introduced House Resolution 1179, which would amend the state constitution to prevent the tarnishing of monuments at Stone Mountain. Referencing Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, the bill says “heroes of the Confederate States of America … 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.”
Benton also introduced House Bill 855 to make Confederate Memorial Day and Lee’s birthday “public and legal holidays.” During his interview with AJC, Benton echoed the longstanding argument that the Civil War was not about slavery.
Benton may be concerned with preserving the South’s history, but white supremacist groups are not relics of the past.
The KKK, for example, is currently devising new ways to recruit new members and “save [their] race.” The hate group has ramped up its inflammatory rhetoric, calling for the murder of immigrants and gay people. It’s creating neighborhood watch groups to snuff out criminal activity. And now it’s organizing around Donald Trump’s Islamophobia.