- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2002

Where was Al?
"Strom Thurmond is a man of character, wisdom, energy, and leadership, and he's one big reason America is back on the road to greatness again."
President Reagan, at a fund-raising dinner for Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, in Columbia, S.C., Sept. 20, 1983

Run, Forrest, run
We're pleased that the majority of Tennesseans who contacted us yesterday and there were dozens read between the lines as we challenged Al Gore to condemn his state's allegiance to Nathan Bedford Forrest, cavalry general of the Civil War who became a leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Should Mr. Gore really attack admiration for Forrest? Of course not.
Are Tennesseans racist for dedicating a state park in Forrest's name? Of course not.
Is Trent Lott a racist for saying Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, would have made a great president? Of course not.
History is history, and somebody in Tennessee or elsewhere needs to remind Al Gore that it cannot and should not be rewritten (we're reminding him up here because after he made his big announcement that he was moving back "home" to Tennessee, he appears to have returned to Washington).
To give our readers their due, Jay Hubbard, a "Proud Tennessee Volunteer," writes: "I wanted to give you the opportunity to clarify and, if need be, apologize to readers from the state of Tennessee. I was born and raised in Tennessee, and still live in Tennessee today. I think instead of saying that the entire state currently pledges allegiance to [Forrest], you should rather have challenged Mr. Gore to defend his father's stance on the Civil Rights Amendment, and ask him to clarify the reasons his father was adamantly opposed to ending segregation."
Good point, Mr. Hubbard.
Adds Jeff Harwell of Taft, Tenn.: "You note that Al Gore has not spoken out against various memorials to Confederate Cavalry General Nathan Bedford Forrest in Mr. Gore's adopted home state of Tennessee (we real Tennessean know that he is about as native to our state as Hillary Clinton is to New York). But you forgot one of the most prominent memorials to the general a large bust of him that occupies a niche on the legislative level of the State Capitol Building, along with other giants of Tennessee history.
"And this after Al Gore tried to give George Bush grief in 2000 over a Confederate flag in a state [South Carolina] that was home to neither candidate."
A point made by you and several others, Mr. Harwell.
Turning to readers outside of Tennessee: "Come on. You can do better than cite General Forrest," writes B. Ray Holland of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "This year when Democrats meet at their [Thomas] Jefferson Day dinners to commiserate their decline into the minority party, they should begin by denouncing the man they claim founded their party and condemn him for slavery (but not for acts of adultery with his slaves, of course, since Democrats do not consider that a moral defect)."
Point taken, Mr. Holland.
And speaking of Southern gentlemen named "Forrest," B.A. Rucker of Virginia observes: "Every time I hear Al 'Forrest' Gore speak, I picture Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump saying, 'Stupid is as stupid does.'"

American history
Another column item of yesterday that generated considerable response was the renaming of Northern Virginia's historic "Sully Plantation" to "Sully Historic Site."
"You remind me of an incident as I drove past Sully Plantation with some guests from Massachusetts visiting me in The Plains, Va., in 1995," writes Jesse Merrell. "The woman's daughter saw the sign and asked: 'What's a plantation?' Rather than give a lengthy explanation to an offhand query by a 15-year-old, I said simply: 'It's a big farm.'
"'Yeah!' sneered her mother, her voice dripping with venomous, puritanical sarcasm. 'Where they had slaves!'
"I felt like saying: 'Yes, hauled here on Massachusetts slave ships,' pointing out that the hideous thumbscrews and degrading chains sprang, not from Southern plantations, but Northern slave ships, such as the first slave ship built in America, in 1636 the year Harvard was founded to 'train ministers of the Gospel' and launched from Marblehead, Mass.
"It occurred to me to remind her that the first law in America legalizing slavery was passed, not in the evil South, but in enlightened Massachusetts, on Dec. 10, 1641, with the rather curious title of 'Body of Liberties.' I could have also told her that Massachusetts passed the first fugitive slave law in America, and that she enslaved her captives in the Pequot Indian War.
"I didn't say any of this, held back by my awful Southern manners, which also kept me from inquiring into the Salem Witch Trials, where 19 people were hanged in 1692, and one 80-year-old man (churchgoer Giles Corey) was crushed to death with heavy stones during bloodthirsty hysteria, when Massachusetts became the first and only state in America to hang 'witches,' and the last in Christendom to halt the medieval atrocity."


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