In a Facebook post published Wednesday, Missouri Rep. Warren Love (R) expressed hope that the people responsible for vandalizing a Confederate monument in Springfield National Cemetery will be found and lynched.
“This is totally against the law,” Love wrote while sharing an article about how paint was thrown on a statute of Confederate Major General Sterling Price. “I hope they are found & hung from a tall free with a long rope.”
Love’s endorsement of a type of extrajudicial violence that was often used in the U.S. by white supremacists against black people has sparked calls for his resignation. Reached for comment by ThinkProgress on Thursday morning, Love said he won’t resign but regrets the post.
“What I should’ve wrote is that I hope that they are brought to justice and apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said. “That’s what I shoulda wrote. That would have been a very politically correct statement.”
Love’s Facebook page is private, but he said he’s attempted to clarify his original post by adding this comment: “Anyone regardless of age, gender, or race that would desecrate or vandalize an object of remembrance is a lowlife that has no respect for memorials that have been placed by loved ones of people that want to honor that individual. This crime currently is only a misdemeanor, and it is being made clear by recent acts of vandalism that it needs to be increased to the felony level.”
Love, who described himself as “a cowboy” and a “western man,” said he’s also posted an apology of sorts.
“It appears that several people have interpreted a post I made to be rather harsh and inciting violence, and I did not mean it that way,” he said. “I was only using an old cowboy statement that is a western custom for thieves who steal horses. To all who this post offended, I am very sorry — however, I do believe [the vandalism] is very serious.”
Love said one of his great-grandfathers fought for the Union, while another fought for the Confederacy. He claimed he would have had the same reaction if a Union statue had been vandalized. But a previous Facebook post of Love’s indicates he sympathizes with the Confederate cause. In February of this year, Love commemorated Abraham Lincoln’s birthday with a post describing him as the “greatest tyrant and despot in American history,” and lamented that “John Wilkes Booth did not act four years earlier.”
During his conversation with ThinkProgress, Love said he doesn’t believe that the Civil War was primarily fought over slavery. Instead, he cited “issues about whether states have the right to secede” and “invading federal armies.” He characterized Confederate monuments as a way southerners “honor their ancestors and heroes.”
The vandalism of the Confederate monument in Springfield was discovered on the same day that President Trump visited the area to give a speech about tax cuts. Love echoed some of the same arguments Trump has used to defend Confederate monuments, including that removing them would result in a slippery slope toward the end of public recognition of historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson.
“History needs to be told — the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Love said. “Even the history of how we treated the Native Americans and the Japanese in World War II. I’m really into history and I don’t think we should cover it up or try to blot it out.”