The KKK ‘not so much a racist thing’, and other harmful myths

m-8480State Rep. Tommy Benton, who has represented Georgia’s 31st State House District for the last decade, believes that the KKK — by its own account created “to maintain forever the God-given supremacy of the white race” — “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order. … It made a lot of people straighten up.”

He said that this week. In 2016.

As to “law and order”, does he mean like this?
cob831-82

It sure made poor Charlie Hale “straighten up.” Look at him dangling from a noose outside the Gwinnett County courthouse in Lawrenceville in 1911. The sign at his feet reads “Please Do Not Wake.” The photo comes from a postcard created and sold to commemorate the event. (As I’ve mentioned before, my own grandfather was a KKK member in West Virginia.)

Benton further informs us that the Civil War was not fought over slavery and that the Confederacy was founded for noble purposes that deserve to be honored. That would certainly come as news to men such as Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy who hailed from Taliaferro County, just three counties over from Benton’s home in Jackson County. In his 1861 Cornerstone Speech, Stephens tells the world — and tells us still today — that the “peculiar institution African slavery” “was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.”

“Our new government is founded upon … its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”

Benton taught middle-school history for 30 years, retiring in 2004. A lot of impressionable minds went through his classroom in those 30 years. Today, he is a member of the state Legislature, making laws and policy on behalf of the people of Georgia.

It’s not exactly a secret that people still think the way that Benton does, although some would like to pretend it is. They would like to pretend that racism is yesterday’s problem, that in government and business and education it no longer has the power to twist minds and distort outcomes. Some would even have us believe that the biggest obstacle to racial harmony are those who dare to suggest that racism still exists.

Earlier this week, Jeremy Spencer, a top official in the state Department of Education, was forced to resign over bigoted material was discovered on his Facebook page. Some had been posted by Spencer himself, in which he targeted gays, Muslims and black people.

In the most egregious example, Spencer had posted an anti-Obama cartoon. In response, somebody posted this:

spencerSpencer — also a former teacher — was so outraged that he left the post up on his public Facebook page for two months, taking the page down only after media inquiries.

And that’s what’s most troubling. Spencer apparently lives in a world in which such things are socially acceptable. No warning bells went off in his head, no thoughts that this might be out of line for a high-ranking, well-paid state official. He felt safe, he thought it was OK. If his colleagues at the Department of Education saw the page — if his brother, a state representative, saw the page — they apparently didn’t advise him of how totally inappropriate it was.

And if we’re going to be honest, such public eruptions of racism have to be considered just the tip of the iceberg. From them, you have to infer the presence of a lot of such sentiment that doesn’t find public expression, but that nonetheless exerts a powerful influence. You can fool yourselves into believing otherwise, just as Benton believes that the KKK “was not so much a racist thing.”

But the facts argue otherwise.

 

Reader Comments 0

876 comments
Bill OrvisWhite
Bill OrvisWhite

Bill is a broken machine here because he's written about this subject which could become a novel. Pals, The War Against Northern Aggression was NOT ABOUT SLAVERY! END OF DISCUSSION! The rightful war was against Washington's tyranny including unfair trade practices, outrageous regulation and draconian taxation. WHO WOULDN'T FIGHT THAT TYPE OF OPPRESSION!? NO ONE! Puh-leeze! Does anyone talk about how The Union raped and pillaged here in The South? DOES ANYONE? HELLO, IS ANYONE OUT THERE? Puh-leeze, who are the racists now? Gimme a break! We here in The South want what's best for EVERYONE no matter color, race or creed! Why is Bill sounding like MLK now? Because this is what MLK was about! HE WOULD BE A CONSERVATIVE TODAY! GOOD NIGHT! Amen, Bill 

1stTruthOMeter
1stTruthOMeter

Don't tell me that these people are not deliberately trying to suppress the vote in states where their party holds the statehouses.

If you don't think the KKK was a problem you most definitely do not think their ideas about only whites should be able to vote is a problem. 

jim37
jim37

I dfon't know which disturbs me the most that they were teachers who we trusted with our young people or that they represent us in the state legislature.

EliasDenny
EliasDenny

It is a sad fact that we are all prone to judge all those around us. My father was from the old school here in the south and I hate to admit that some of my brothers are almost the same. It will take several more generations for many here to stop looking down on our black, brown, or red brothers.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@Kamchak 

More projection than an IMAX theater, sport.

Just sayin'.    /

Good one. Haven't heard that before.

GaGirl53171875
GaGirl53171875

a light needs to shine on all these racist thugs. Shame them, take their power away, outlaw their Confederate flags. These people are an embarrassment to all that is decent.

In the history of the world, how many defeated nations have been allowed to erect monuments to their generals and fly the traitorous flags of their rebellion?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@DownInAlbany 

 As a "receiver"

More projection than an IMAX theater, sport.

Just sayin'.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@breckenridge When your best hope of winning the White House rests upon the rival candidate getting sent to jail, you know you're in pretty bad shape.  //

By the same token, when your party is faced with putting forward as its nominee someone with the name 'Clinton', you know your party is not in the best shape.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@Donnie_Pinko @breckenridge 

I have no dog in this fight. As I've stated numerous times, I'm voting for Ilona Staller.  But the GOP does not have a candidate that is worth a diddly.


But at any rate I've decided if I can't say anything nice. . . .  so with that in mind:

Putin is not as bad as Stalin.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@td1234 

  “most of us around this table are hearing from multiple sources,”

I am hearing from "multiple sources" that I will be the MVP of Super Bowl 50.

TBS
TBS

Will you also be driving to victory at the Daytona 500 and winning the Masters as you did last year?

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@TBS No indictment will ever be issued, but a simple google search brings up multiple news sources commenting on the topic.

TBS
TBS

Funniest part is that nothing in the quote that was posted says anything about or even implies a recommendation for indictment

Hilarious that some can take any quote from anyone and make it fit their narrative

TBS
TBS

So

I'm going off of the comments made by the blogger and the quote he posted

Next

honested
honested

@InTheMiddle2 @TBS 

Ignoramuses being paid by wrong-wing interests to publish whatever nonsense they heard at a bar does not constitute a 'news source'.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@TBS 

Yes, that is what "multiple sources" are telling me.

breckenridge
breckenridge

 Since 1962 Representative Benton has been an active member of the First Methodist Church in Commerce. His public service to his community includes membership on the Jefferson Historic Preservation Commission for 10 years. He has been a Hunter Safety Instructor since 1984. In 1996 he served as the Treasurer for the Jackson County.


Benton is a life member of the National Rifle Association and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He is also active in the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, the Gainesville Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, and the Jackson County Historical Society.

American Stars and Bars? That was also a Neil Young album.  

Maybe the star of Bethlehem wasn't a star at all........

Neil Young and Emmy Lou Harris.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrBPJEBL06U

 

breckenridge
breckenridge

When your best hope of winning the White House rests upon the rival candidate getting sent to jail, you know you're in pretty bad shape.

honested
honested

@breckenridge 

When your 'base' seeks an impossible fantasy, unelectable candidates will be your stock in trade.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@breckenridge When the best hope of winning the White House is a candidate more suitable for the Big House...

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

If there is one thing liberals can sure find comfort in with dark clouds gathering over their electoral fortunes, it's race.

idigalot
idigalot

Tommy Benton is a racist. He's proud of the fact that the GOP is trying to make it harder for African-Americans to vote rather than make it easier for everyone's voice to be heard. When I questioned him about the millions of dollars in ethics fines that we're having to be paid out because of Governor Deal's shenanigans, he told me that if I wanted good ethics in state government, I should probably move to another state. He is proud of flying his racist ideas along with his racist flag.

Peachs
Peachs

@idigalot Tommy, Jimmy, what is this about grown men in rural areas calling themselves these innocent names, and being rattlesnakes..

honested
honested

While we are on the subject of criminal justice, the last remaining stragglers in the Oregon Terrorist Posse are ready to come out if no charges are pressed.


Seriously?


You commandeer Federal Property, refuse to leave, claim superiority to the Federal Government, tear stuff up, threaten Law Enforcement Officers, and they just want to stroll out with 'no harm, no foul'?


You just can't make this stuff up!

breckenridge
breckenridge

Hey TD is Hillary in jail yet?


ahhh ha ha ha