Editorial: Nathan Bedford Forrest Day: A Failure of Morality, History, and Politics

Editorial: Nathan Bedford Forrest Day: A Failure of Morality, History, and Politics

Today is Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee.

Like many Southern commanders, he enjoys a prominent place in Civil War memory. And however regrettable, the celebration and veneration of Confederate commanders isn’t particularly unusual even today, circa 2019. After all, Tennessee also recognizes Robert E. Lee Day and Confederate Decoration Day.

Yet we cannot divorce military commanders or their abilities from the causes for which they fought, at least not when it comes to deciding who gets a pedestal and who gets a proclamation. Confederate generals chose to renounce their allegiance to the United States to join in a rebellion whose raison d’etre was slavery. They fought for an immoral, terrible cause, the world is a better place because they lost, and they are not worthy of veneration. Why are we still celebrating them?

Read More

Stone Heroes North and South: The Connection between Mount Rushmore and Stone Mountain

Stone Heroes North and South: The Connection between Mount Rushmore and Stone Mountain

One displays the heroes of the Confederacy—Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson—all on horseback riding across the wide gray canvas that is Stone Mountain near Atlanta, Georgia.  The other features four bust-style depictions of famous American presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln—gazing formally from Mount Rushmore over the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Each was created out of pride for heritage and nation.  Each inspires awe at its size and wonder at the artistic skill necessary to carve such massive. 

And each have very different meanings.  One is a very nationalistic and patriotic piece featuring four of America’s favorite presidents that was conceived to bring tourism into the area.  The other is a monument to the Confederacy led by Southerners who wanted to honor and sustain the Confederate legacy.  One honors the United States of America, the other the Confederate States of America.  They stand a nation apart, both figuratively and literally (in terms of locations), yet they are connected by the life of one man, the sculptor who set out to complete both projects and ended up finishing neither.

Read More