A Georgia state representative has infuriated anger nationally after making several statements blatantly defending the KKK, saying they were “not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order.”
“It made a lot of people straighten up,” Republican State Rep. Tommy Benton said, as first reported by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. “I’m not saying what they did was right. It’s just the way things were.”
Benton’s remarks come after he introduced a bill on Wednesday to amend the state’s constitution in order to protect Confederate monuments from being removed or edited at Stone Mountain, which currently depicts the images of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.
“A great majority of prominent men in the South were members of the Klan,” he said in reference to the bill. “Should that affect their reputation to the extent that everything else good that they did was forgotten?”
Since the deadly act of radical White Terrorism at the AME Church in Charleston, which saw 9 Black Americans killed at the hands of a white supremacist known for idolizing the hatefulness of southern history, calls by state and federal lawmakers to remove southern symbols bearing the Confederate flag have been renewed, with varying degrees of success.
In a shameful attempt to pivot the conversation away from America’s hateful past (and present) while simultaneously preying on the very real fears many Americans are feeling with regards to Islamic terrorism, Benton then compared new legislation seeking to prohibit the celebration of holidays honoring Confederate leaders to the terrorist activities of ISIS.
“That’s no better than what ISIS is doing, destroying museums and monuments,” he said. “I feel very strongly about this. I think it has gone far enough. There is some idea out there that certain parts of history out there don’t matter anymore and that’s a bunch of bunk.”