Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has refused to denounce a Southern heritage group's proposal for a state-issued license plate to honor Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a founder and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Barbour is the current chairman of the Republican Governors Association, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and considered a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate.
Raw Story reports:
The idea, put forth by the white heritage group Sons of Confederate Veterans, would create a state-issued license plate by 2014 in honor of Confederate General and KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest. It would include a car tag and a series of other Civil War license plates.
Mississippi lawmakers are considering the proposal, and Barbour said it's unlikely to be approved but refused to stake out a position against it. The NAACP's Mississippi chapter president Derrick Johnson called on the governor to denounce it. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a "hate group" known for its racist and white supremacist activities.
More on Forrest from The Associated Press:
Forrest, a Tennessee native, is revered by some as a military genius and reviled by others for leading an 1864 massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tenn. Forrest was a Klan grand wizard in Tennessee after the war. ..
[Mississippi NAACP president Derrick Johnson] said he's not bothered by Civil War commemorative license plates generally. But he said Mississippi shouldn't honor Forrest, who was an early leader of what he calls "a terrorist group." "He should be viewed in the same light that we view Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden," Johnson said of Forrest. "The state of Mississippi should deny any vanity tags which would highlight racial hatred in this state."
Johnson and the Mississippi NAACP president Derrick has called on Barbour to denounce the license plate idea. "I don't go around denouncing people," Barbour told The Associated Press.
During a December interview, Barbour praised the Council of Conservative Citizens—successor to the hateful segregationist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s. Barbour later walked back the comments.
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