I’ve never been to Mississippi, but part of me will always call it home. My ancestors were slaves there, and their blood and tears are in the soil, the wind, the water and, of course, the blues. Ah, the blues. Nothing soothes my stupid spirit than a hard-scrabbling Delta blues ballad, especially if it’s playing on an old and warpy slab of vinyl.
Someday my journey will take me to Mississippi. Someday. I’ve come close; my journeys have taken me through Georgia, Tennessee, the Virginias, Kentucky, southern Ohio and even Florida, which I will admit if you promise you won’t tell anyone. But never Mississippi. Someday.
News out of the Magnolia State this week took me by surprise. As part of a series of commemorative licence plates to be issued over the next few years to honour heroes of The War of Northern Aggression, a call has been made to issue a plate recognizing the historical contributions of a character named Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Forrest was a famous military commander and strategist and also a batshit crazy racist who slaughtered black people and, when that wasn’t giving him enough of a boner, founded a social club called the Ku Klux Klan.
And while I admit there are people who probably hold him in high regard, and I would never endorse revisionist history, I still think Mississippi would be doing itself a disservice if it ever placed any kind of official seal on something honouring a man whose grand plan involved — and still does — hanging black people and killing Jews. While the group calling for the plate, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, has no racist links at all, Forrest’s name is enough of an alarm bell that the negative impact of such a move far outweighs any effort to recognize him for other accomplishments — which are many, and admirable, and wiped out as soon as he put on the robes and pointy mask.
You know, if everyone would just sit back and listen to the blues, none of this crap would be happening. Peace, people. Peace.
- Of course, it always helps if you can laugh at the KKK, as the Simpsons did so perfectly when showing off a series of failed cartoon characters, which included Ku Klux Klam …