Al Jazeera host Del Walters challenged a supporter of Mississippi’s Confederate Heritage Month on Tuesday for “trying to preserve a racist past.”
Earlier this year, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) declared April as Confederate Heritage Month, but failed to mention slavery in his proclamation.
On Tuesday, Sons of Confederate Army of Tennessee Commander Larry Allen McCluney Jr. defended the state holiday as “nothing unusual” during an appearance on Al Jazeera
“The Confederate soldier lost,” host Del Walters pointed out. “And he lost a long time ago. Isn’t it time to let it go?”
McCluney argued that “we should try to remember, respect and revere that particular history.”
But Walters wondered if Confederate Heritage Month was the right way to learn about the history of the Civil War, noting that McCluney’s Sons of Confederate Veterans website sold the film “Birth of a Nation,” which he said was “considered to be one of the most racist films ever made.”
“How do you bridge that gap between people who say you are trying to preserve a past, while others argue you are trying to preserve a racist past?” Walters asked.
“That a matter of opinion,” McCluney replied. “Because in our organization, we have blacks, we have Jews, we have people from various different backgrounds that are members because we were a diversified army during that time during the Civil War.”
The Army of Tennessee commander added that “Birth of a Nation” was labeled as racist today, but was not considered racist when it was made in 1915.
“We wouldn’t fly the Imperial flag of Japan or the Nazi flag in this country,” Walters said. “They won’t fly it in Japan, they won’t fly it Germany. So why should this country fly the Confederate flag and celebrate these causes when the South lost the Civil War.”
“We are remembering the actions of those me that defended their homes from an invasion,” McCluney insisted, adding that it was unfair to single out the Confederate flag when racists also flew the American flag and the Christian flag.
“The South itself is a very distinct region,” he said. “If you look at if from a conservative point of view, I would say the North and the South is still divided.”
Watch the video below from Al Jazeera America, broadcast April 5, 2016.