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‘Confederate cleansing’: Lawmaker vows to stop ‘cultural terrorism’ in Georgia

A carving depicting confederates Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis in Stone Mountain, Ga. (John Bazemore/AP)

A Republican lawmaker who says he’s grown weary of what he calls “Confederate cleansing” is working to preserve the famous carving of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders on Georgia’s Stone Mountain.

“I’m tired of the anti-Confederate rhetoric toward Stone Mountain and any other Confederate monument that’s out there,” state Rep. Tommy Benton told the Morris News Service. “We’re entitled to our heritage just like other people are entitled to theirs, and there seems to be an attempt to do Confederate cleansing.”

He continued: “I refer to that more as cultural terrorism than anything. They’re attacking us for no reason at all. We’ve not done anything to provoke them or anything else. They’re very similar to what’s going on in the Middle East with ISIS that’s destroying all those mosques and temples and everything because they don’t agree with that history over there, so they’re just destroying it and doing away with it.”

Benton, a retired history teacher, is sponsoring a resolution that proposes an amendment to Georgia’s constitution, one that would force the state to “maintain an appropriate and suitable memorial for the Confederacy at and on Stone Mountain.”

“In addition, the memorial to the heroes of the Confederate States of America graven upon the face of Stone Mountain shall never be altered, removed, concealed, or obscured in any fashion and shall be preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered and died in their cause,” House Resolution 1179 states.

What’s more: Benton is also sponsoring a bill that would formally recognize Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee’s birthday as state holidays.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Benton’s bills “are a direct response to Senate Bill 294, which would forbid the state from formally recognizing holidays in honor of the Confederacy or its leaders.”

According to the newspaper:

Benton described the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Vincent Fort, as “a fanatic” and the bill’s intent as “cultural terrorism.”

Confederate symbols and monuments like Stone Mountain, which depicts Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis, became the subject of intense debate last year, following the slaying of nine black parishioners by a white man at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.

The Confederate flag on the South Carolina statehouse grounds was removed in July, and officials in New Orleans voted to remove four monuments in the city.

Bill Stephens, chief executive officer for the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, told The Post in October that officials want to add a tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the site, although that plan still needed to be formally approved.

“I feel very strongly about this,” Benton told the Journal-Constitution. “I think it has gone far enough. There is some idea out there that certain parts of history out there don’t matter anymore and that’s a bunch of bunk.”



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