Republican Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally on Thursday sparked an uproar by defending the legacy of former Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate Army general Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose bust is being removed from the Tennessee state capitol.
McNally's statement on Forrest's legacy came after Tennessee's State Building Commission voted to remove the former Klan leader's bust in a 5-to-2 vote.
The Tennessee Republican argued that he did not want to see Forrest removed even though he admittedly left a "problematic" legacy.
"His life eventually followed a redemptive arc which I hope is outlined in detail in our state museum," argued Forrest. "No figure honored on the capitol grounds or across the state could stand up to modern scrutiny."
While it's true that cultural norms have changed since the years following the American Civil War, the Klan has been treated by the United States federal government as a violent criminal organization.
The Enforcement Acts of the 1870s, for example, were passed as a way to prosecute Klan members who were using violence and intimidation to stop Black Americans from exercising their right to vote.
McNally continued by saying that the "woke mob's" goal was to cancel all Tennessee "heroes," starting with Forrest.
"Without historical context, we would have no Tennessee heroes, only villains," he wrote. "No Christian saints, only sinners. The left-wing activists who are pushing an anti-American, anti-history agenda here in Tennessee and across the nation will not stop with Nathan Bedford Forrest."
In fact, Tennessee is also the birthplace of American icons such as Davy Crockett and Dolly Parton, neither of whom has ever led a racist terrorist organization.
The reaction to McNally was brutal -- check out some replies below.
As an east TN native, I like to imagine an alternate history where TN celebrates people who resisted the Confederac… https://t.co/2OkqINH0w4— Steven White (@Steven White) 1626980928.0
Why does the left want to cancel this Tennessee hero and the first Grand Wizard of KKK? https://t.co/LY8waCuzjg— Joe Kalicki (@Joe Kalicki) 1626980871.0
Is this guy overlooking Admiral Farragut on purpose? It's not because Adm. Farragut sided with the Union, is it? https://t.co/oCab3GZ2QL— Brian Moon 🌗😷💉💉 (@Brian Moon 🌗😷💉💉) 1626980847.0
In 1820 Elihu Embree, son of a minister, started the nation's first abolitionist newspaper in Tennessee. Might be a… https://t.co/IcGDBl1uMN— Tim Miller (@Tim Miller) 1626980693.0
Man these fools have lost it-- no sheets no hoods no secret cross burnings in the woods Just straight UP in the OPE… https://t.co/WGOG9cVYh8— Sophia A. Nelson (@Sophia A. Nelson) 1626980687.0
*resets “days since Tennessee was a national embarrassment” sign to 0* https://t.co/dJurXI1uxf— Jason (@Jason) 1626980527.0
If you search “famous people Tennessee” there’s an awful lot of really cool folks, including a Nobel Laureate and a… https://t.co/f2XI0UxNBy— Brigid Keely - She/Her (@Brigid Keely - She/Her) 1626980528.0
If we let the woke mob cancel the first grand wizard of the KKK, a slave dealer, who commanded the massacre of surr… https://t.co/ov3JLmRDu1— southpaw (@southpaw) 1626980377.0
The left wants to cancel Forrest just because he *squints at notes* was a traitor to America and founded a racist p… https://t.co/rHsgX0rr0a— Gary Legum (@Gary Legum) 1626980273.0
"Without historical context, we would have no Tennessee heroes". The way this guy (i) pretends black people didn't… https://t.co/p77x1KuBba— snow🗽 (@snow🗽) 1626980147.0
Did not expect the Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee to actually go with, “Our only state heroes are murderous slave… https://t.co/QyQpMcxPUa— Peter Wolf (@Peter Wolf) 1626980090.0
"If Tennessee can't honor Nathan Bedford Forrest, who CAN they honor?" sounds like a parody of the most glib offens… https://t.co/URA6T6Ia54— Benjy Sarlin (@Benjy Sarlin) 1626979730.0
I’ve never been proud of the fact that the first grand wizard of the KKK was from Tennessee. In fact, I’m downright… https://t.co/cTRHkfC47q— Jessica Taylor (@Jessica Taylor) 1626979350.0