Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Vile Racist Haley Barbour Refuses to Denounce KKK Co-Founder

The Confederate-loving governor of Mississippi, the disgusting Haley Barbour, has refused to denounce a proposal from the treason/traitor-loving group Sons of Confederate Veterans that Mississippi issue a license plate honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the worst humans in the history of this or any other country. Let's take a look at Forrest's horrifying record, from Dennis G. at Balloon Juice:

There are vile, violent and evil men populating the history of our Nation, but you have to look long and hard to find folks as immoral, dishonorable and deceitful as Nathan Bedford Forrest. He is a patron saint of white supremacy, racism and treason.

So naturally, he should be celebrated as a wingnutopia role model.

He was an entrepreneur and in the years leading up to the Civil War he made a fortune buying and selling people. He was the co-fonder of the “NegroMart” a wholesale mega store for slaves and when the war started he was filthy rich.

During the war he organized a gang of excessively violent and vengeful riders who were very skilled at the hit and run tactics of guerrilla fighting. He has been greatly mythologized over the years by the Church of The Lost Cause, but he was little more than a war criminal. Perhaps his most famous crime was the Massacre at Fort Pillow in 1864 where he ordered his troops to murder hundreds of surrendering troops. As Forrest himself put it in his first report of the killing field:

“The river was dyed with the blood of the slaughtered for two hundred yards. The approximate loss was upward of five hundred killed, but few of the officers escaping. My loss was about twenty killed. It is hoped that these facts will demonstrate to the Northern people that negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners.”

One of the men under Forrest’s command wrote to his wife:

“the poor, deluded negroes would run up to our men, fall upon their knees, and with uplifted hand scream for mercy, but were ordered to their feet and then shot down.”

And historian Richard Fuchs, in his detailed study of the massacre described it as:

“...simply an orgy of death, a mass lynching to satisfy the basest of conduct – intentional murder – for the vilest of reasons – racism and personal enmity.”

When the war ended Forrest returned home but could not re-open his NegroMart, so he worked with other white supremacist to find new ways to steal the labor of the recently freed slaves. Over the years they used many tools but it all stated with terrorism and the theft of labor was maintained for a century with violence. When a fellow traitor told Forest about plans to form the Ku Klux Klan, Forrest told him:

“That’s a good thing; that’s a damn good thing. We can use that to keep the niggers in their place.”

Soon Forrest was the first Grand Wizard of the KKK and bragging that he had 500,000 men under his command. The result over the next century was a body count in the thousands and uncountable ruined and damaged lives.

And Forrest wasn't done inflicting suffering, oh no. Read on, again from the invaluable Dennis G:

Turns out that by the end of his life, Forrest was back in the slavery business and helped to create a model for stealing labor and keeping slavery alive under a different name. It was a very successful model that was replicated all over the South.

In the Mississippi River on the shores of Memphis sits President’s Island. Now it is an odd mix of industrial parks and wildlife areas.

Back in the 1870s Nathan Bedford Forrest saw it as an opportunity. During the Civil War the very fertile island became the home of escaping slaves and by 1865 a community of about 1,500 Freemen lived on the island. Like many other post war African American communities, it was a community that all but disappeared as white supremacists used terrorism and murder to in the words of NBF, “...keep the niggers in their place.” According to the history of President’s Island a 1947 article in the local Memphis paper explained that the former Freemen “were absorbed into the community”.

By the late 1860s, early 1870s Forrest had failed as a businessman running the Marion &  Memphis Railroad into bankruptcy. As he failed in that business his involvement in the KKK gave him new opportunities. Somehow he managed to get control of the land on President’s Island and convert it into one of the South’s first prison work farms. Here, newly imprisoned Negros could be forced under the lash to grow corn and cotton. According to the President’s Island history, Forrest:

offered to pay the county 10 cents a day for each worker and to provide food, clothing and housing. His offer was accepted, and a five-year contract was signed.

Forrest was an entrepreneur who helped to create this model of buying and selling prisoners. His system for stealing labor kept slavery alive well into the next century (and some might fairly argue that the system of forced prison labor is still alive and well today—and there is a strong case for that POV).

Working conditions at Forrest’s prison slave camp were horrible. Illness was very common and in an act of karma or divine humor, some folks speculate that NBF died because a case of dysentery he acquired from drinking impure water at his slave camp interacted badly with his diabetes.

After his his death—and despite Grand Jury investigations into stories of abuse—his son continued to run the family’s neo-NegroMart/prison farm business for years. And his family continued to live off stolen labor just as it had before the Civil War.

And it is this piece of human filth--slave trader, war criminal, murderer, terrorist, slave master--that Haley Barbour just can't bring himself to say anything bad about. Remember, Barbour is the Confederate-loving son of a bitch who keeps Jefferson Davis's personal flag in his office. 



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