This Is 2013, Right?

Them's just funnin!
Them’s just funnin!
In a week where the unenlightened and uninformed decided to step up front and center and let us all know just how ignorant they are – THANKS PHIL & SARAH – I found myself wondering what year this is. Starting with Phil Robertson, the patriarch of that stupid show Duck Dynasty, who opened his pie hole to GQ Magazine and managed to bash gays and point out that them Negroes were much happier when they weren’t all uppity and free. Darn Martin Luther King & Malcolm X for ruining everything. Of course, when you get to that level of intolerant you immediately get supported by Sarah Palin. Last week she defended the firing of Martin Bashir, for his incredibly dense remarks, as being the right thing to do. So, naturally, when Dear Old Phil got suspended by A&E for his boneheaded remarks it was an attack on the First Amendment. The thing is, if you’ve seen one episode of the show, and I have, you figure out pretty quick that Phil may be a self made millionaire thanks to his duck calls but he leans to the right of Ted Cruz when it comes to social concerns. No one at A&E is allowed to act surprised by his comments as far as I’m concerned. You can’t give the guy a national platform and then tell him not to use it. It’s disingenuous at best.

This kind of “tone deaf” racism seems to be on the rise. After all, slavery wasn’t all bad, was it? It is in the bible so that has to count for something. That is a nice summation of some of what has flopped into the national consciousness from the political right. And you need to keep all this in mind to understand why this next story is dividing Jacksonville, Florida.

Michael Peterson at CNN reports that people are upset that a school named after KKK leader and slave trader, Nathan B. Forrest, is to be renamed.

You have to read this to believe it.

Fifty-four years after the Duval County, Florida, school board ignored the wishes of students and named a Jacksonville high school for a controversial Confederate general, the school will be getting a new name.

The school board voted 7-0 Monday to change the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School after the current school year ends. Officials will choose between the names Westside and Firestone in January.

When it was opened in 1959, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision that required racially integrated public schools, district officials chose to name the school after Forrest — a former slave trader and Confederate commander whose troops were involved in the massacre of black Union soldiers at a Tennessee fort.

He later served as the first “Grand Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan.

“For too long and too many, this name has represented the opposite of unity, respect, and equality — all that we expect in Duval schools,” board member Constance Hall said in a statement from the district.

The name-change was spearheaded by parent Ty Richmond, whose petition amassed 162,150 signatures.

“I’m very encouraged. Jacksonville is too much of a beautiful city to have that ugly blemish,” Richmond told CNN affiliate WAWS.

“I don’t want my daughter, or any student, going to a school named under those circumstances,” he said in his petition. “This is a bad look for Florida — with so much racial division in our state, renaming Forrest High would be a step toward healing.”

At the time it was named, the segregated school had an all-white student body. It is now 62% black, 23% white and 9% Hispanic, according to the district.

Still, the decision to strip the name was not universally popular. More than half of the faculty opposed the change, as did 36% of students, the district said.

A Missouri KKK leader also protested the change, saying those who want the name changed are ignoring “the true historical facts surrounding this valiant man of honor.”

Bedford fans have noted the commander’s widespread reputation as a military genius, and have long said he was misunderstood. They say he disbanded the first version of the Ku Klux Klan after it grew violent and argue that he made efforts to reconcile with blacks in his later years.

He is the subject of numerous monuments and other efforts to preserve his memory across the South.

A monument honoring Forrest has been the subject of long-running controversy in Selma, Alabama, a focal point of the civil rights movement. The monument was located in a city building for a while but moved to a city-owned cemetery following protests.

In 2012, someone stole Forrest’s bust from atop the monument. Efforts to refurbish the monument have resulted in disputes.

In 2011, a Mississippi proposal to create a license plate honoring Forrest brought opposition by civil rights groups and never saw the light of day.

Just so we’re clear, it’s true that Bedford left the Klan over their increasing violence. He was okay with owning and selling blacks but he saw no reason to kill them too.

Derek Kinner, over at AP, has a coda to thsi story.

The removal of the names of key Confederate figures, some of whom participated in the early days of the Ku Klux Klan, is trending through the South and other parts of the country.

For years, communities have been trying, sometimes successfully, to change names of schools, parks and other facilities because they represented Confederate leaders and ideals.

In Memphis, Tenn., the City Council voted in February to change a local park’s name from Nathan Bedford Forrest Park to Health Sciences Park, though a statue of Bedford on a horse remains. It also voted to rename Confederate Park as Memphis Park and Jefferson Davis Park as Mississippi River Park.

In Lee County, Fla., NAACP officials have been lobbying for years to change the county’s name because it was named for Gen. Robert E. Lee, considered the leading Confederate general of the Civil War, but city officials have refused the request.

Keep in mind that the city where Trayvon Martin was killed had hosted a Klan rally just a couple months prior.

Of course, as the Klan keeps saying, it’s not about hate, it’s about white people loving white people. The deportation or annihilation of all other races is just a bonus I guess.

Chester French “Black Girls” from Todd Bell on Vimeo.

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