It’s confounding that such blatantly racist public officials still get elected in this day and age. Republican State Rep. Tommy Benton made some extremely disturbing remarks this week regarding the Confederate flag and the Ku Klux Klan making "a lot of people straighten up."
Benton is currently fighting to pass legislation that will prohibit the removal of the Confederate flag or monuments. The House Resolution 1179 aims to make sure that the “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.”
He has ludicrously compared the movement to remove any Confederate monuments to “cultural terrorism” and ISIS: “That’s no better than what ISIS is doing, destroying museums and monuments.”
Benton has a history of defending the Confederate flag, as well as fundamentally misunderstanding the entire basis of the Civil War. He said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, “the war was not fought over slavery. Those who disagree can believe what they want to.” Benton was previously a middle school history teacher, which is unfortunate for any students that learned from him.
When individuals pointed out the Confederate flag is a symbol for the KKK, Benton retorted with his belief that the KKK “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order. It made a lot of people straighten up.”
This utter insanity is despicable to hear from those in leadership positions and cannot be tolerated. Other lawmakers have made similar statements regarding the Confederate flag, in opposition to the growing movement to remove it after the shootings in Charleston. The flag is, unquestionably, a symbol of slavery and racism in the South and should not be defended as a piece of Southern "culture." Benton has firmly stood by his statements, which Georgia State Sen. Vincent Fort called “unconscionable.”
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters