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Tennessee Republican: If state stops honoring KKK founder, US will be like ISIS

A pro-Confederate flag protest in South Carolina in 2000. States across the south are now moving to take down Confederate flags and other symbols.
A pro-Confederate flag protest in South Carolina in 2000. States across the south are now moving to take down Confederate flags and other symbols.
Erik Perel/AFP via Getty Images

In the wake of last week's horrifying mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, there have been widespread calls for the removal of Confederate flags and monuments from state buildings across the South.

Tennessee Republican state Rep. John Stevens, watching this unfold, has raised an unusual concern: that removing monuments to the Confederacy could turn America into ISIS.

"Here's the thing, I'm not for it or against it," Stevens said. "If people want to change the name of the park, change the name of the park. I'm certainly not going to defend Gen. Forrest. I just think it's a slippery slope when you start changing names and taking down statues.

"What separates us from ISIS?" Stevens asked. "Because that's what they do, they go around and tear down history in those nations that they've conquered. If that's what America is about now, then it concerns me."

In other words: You know who else likes taking down statues?

The mission of this site is to explain the news, so I will go ahead and briefly spell this out: The main problem with ISIS is that it is a violent, genocidal army that is fighting a bloody war to set up its own pro-slavery state, not that it sometimes takes down statues or renames parks. While the self-proclaimed Islamic State has destroyed a number of historic sites, that is of concern because of the loss of those priceless artifacts, not because it indicates an overly casual attitude toward local history.

There is no "slippery slope" to becoming ISIS that starts with changing the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park so that it no longer honors a Confederate officer who went on to become the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. A democratically elected legislature voting to stop honoring a man who founded a brutal domestic terrorist organization is not the same as ISIS "tear[ing] down history in those nations they conquered." The implication that it could be suggests that someone has a shaky grasp of history in this situation — and it's not the lawmakers trying to remove Forrest's name from state property.