As lawmakers in several southern states have called for the removal of Confederate flags and other controversial symbols from state capitols and public spaces, some officials have pushed back, arguing that the symbols represent a piece of history.
Republican Tennessee state Sen. John Stevens said he does not oppose an effort to change the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park, named for a Confederate general and founder of the Ku Klux Klan. Yet, Stevens wondered if renaming the park would lead the state down a “slippery slope.”
“Here’s the thing, I’m not for it or against it,” Stevens told The Jackson Sun. “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?” he then 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.”
According to the Tennessee State Parks website, the park was created during the Great Depression and became a state park in 1963. The website notes that Forrest was a Confederate general and “controversial figure,” but does not mention his role in founding the KKK, which Forrest later renounced.
Lawmakers in the state have also pushed for a bust of Forrest to be removed from the Tennessee state capitol.
Stevens was not the first conservative to compare removing references to Confederate and KKK leaders to the Islamic State destroying historical monuments.
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) made a similar comment Wednesday on Twitter.
ISIS destroys ancient churches, relics & statues. The American Left demands removal of historic flags, monuments & statues. The difference?
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) June 24, 2015
And Fox News radio host Todd Starnes also compared those pushing for the removal of Confederate flags to ISIL on Wednesday.
“You know who else has been doing some cultural cleansing these days?” he asked while discussing Confederate flags. “These guys, the Islamic State — bulldozing their way through history, turning Iraq’s heritage into rubble.”
H/t Huffington Post