May 8, 2007

Glass Houses, Sheet-Covered Stones, Etc

The Carpetbagger Report linked to me earlier today and has sent a fair amount of traffic to an old post I wrote about the Ten Worst Americans in history. I enjoyed that challenge and spent quite a bit of time on it, but found it curious that someone would link to it today. It turns out that the blog linked to a Roll Call article that reported a reference by a Republican Congressman to the military wisdom of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the founder of the Ku Klux Klan:

On Monday, Rep. Ted Poe took to the House floor to discuss foreign policy matters. To make a point, the Texas Republican invoked the words of Civil War Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest: “Git thar fustest with the mostest.”

The quotation got some floor watchers’ attention pretty quickly. Forrest is a controversial figure who was one of the Klan’s first grand wizards. Although the Civil War hero (if you were a Confederate, that is) ultimately abandoned the Klan for its violent tactics, he continues to kick up dust.

Well, first of all, the "fustest with the mostest" is an urban legend, or at least as urban as the 1860s got. As the Carpetbagger Report notes, Forrest did not say it in that way. Tom Burnham listed this as an urban legend in his excellent Dictionary of Misinformation, and no less a Civil War scholar than Bruce Catton repudiated it. The New York Times first wrote it more than 50 years after the end of the war. Besides, the idea about getting to the battle first with the most men isn't exactly advanced strategic thinking. It doesn't take a Clausewitz or a Sun Tzu to figure that much out about military strategy.

It's more than a little ridiculous to say that using this quote indicates some kind of support for the KKK. It's an anecdote used by people to talk about military strategy, as Poe clearly did, instead of some invocation of racism. It's not particularly bright of Poe to quote Forrest -- especially since the quote is essentially meaningless as well as fabricated -- but discussing Forrest's military acumen (which was considerable) doesn't mean people support the Klan, a point that is rather obvious when considering authors such as Catton who catalogued Forrest's strategic thinking.

For instance, do lawyers who reference Hugo Black support the Klan as well? If not, why not? Poe referenced Forrest's military strategy, not his views on race. Referencing Black's viewpoint on law should also then connect to his activities in the Klan ... right? That's the Carpetbagger standard.

Besides, if Carpetbagger wants to note latent Klan support, why doesn't he mention Robert Byrd? Byrd has been in the Senate for almost fifty years now, and he filibustered the Civil Rights Act when it first came to the chamber in the early 60s. He worked as an organizer for the Klan as a young man. Here's a direct link to Forrest's organization ... but Carpetbagger seems less interested in actual connections between the Klan and a Democrat than using silly quotes as some sort of revelation about a Republican.

Just a reminder -- glass houses, stones, etc. If the Democrats want to start accusing people of Klan sympathies, they need to start with their ex-Klansman -- or give it up entirely.

McQ of QandO has more thoughts. So does Allahpundit.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! And Carpetbagger is Steve Benen, as Crooks & Liars notes, so I've removed the question regarding gender. I see John Amato also wants to join in making one of the silliest stinks in a very long time -- or, as Glenn notes, maybe not so long.


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Comments (16)

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2007 5:42 PM

The best line ever, probably goes to Harry S. Truman.

Who understood that when you're campaigning you go to the places where you can convince crowds to vote for ya.

And, so, he went to a Klan rally. Didn't even pack a weapon. Just got in front of the crowd and said they were idiots to pay $3 for a cheap white sheet. And, then he surmised, they must'a been sold to 'em by a bunch of Jews. Maybe, it's the context that's now missing. But Truman was FUNNY.

And, he won.

Of course, he had the advantage of being a democrat, down south. Where the livid hatred for the republican party put the southerner's out of sorts.

And, while you're on the topic of Byrd; what you should remember is that West Virginia was NO STATE! Abraham Lincoln created it. Out of a rump spot on Virginia's map. Because he didn't want the rebels to take such a large piece of real estate with them. When they left Congress.

To show you what a great politician Lincoln was; he took this "rump piece," and under his signature; after getting votes from the "district" who were willing to vote against the Virginians ... In 1862 Lincoln created West Virginia, with a stroke of his pen.

After the south lost. And, surrendered. All the states that rebelled, came back. But to this day? Virginia DOUBLE-DIPS. Gets 4 senators on the same real estate it once got two.

Isn't as if in politics, sides don't do what's best for themselves; not necessarily what's best for the country.

And, the south really stayed a backwater. It was the north. And, coasts, that grew. What changed this was the mismanagement, and the appitites of the union folk, who miss-read the meaning of lousy managers. In other words? Start to worry when the workers think they're fooling you.

I'd say the same for the House of Saud. They really haven't seen the entire picture. And, backlash can be a bitch when it happens.

For the south? Like for Ireland. When you have the weather, and the landscapes. And, there are places where taxes get corrosive; guess what happens. People move.

You really do want regular folk! If you think the ski places in Colorado and Utah are lucky, I beg to differ. The rich have grand houses. Don't live in them all the time. And, poverty surrounds those who are blessed with enormous incomes.

Much better to have a middle class.

Which also turned the Klan on its head.

As to Robert Byrd? He got his start selling those $3 sheets. Maybe, cost him fifty-cents. Get enough fools, and you can go rich. And, the Klan was a business; that had idiots paying money for nothing.

Well, in politics, you meet all kinds.

Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2007 5:47 PM

I've heard these quotes quite a bit:

“A single death is a tragedy, are million deaths is a statistic.”

“The Pope? How many divisions has he got?”

Not many who use them would ever endorse the author.

Posted by TonyI [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2007 6:09 PM

Excellent post--but maybe I misunderstood something-- How could the New York Times have printed an urban legend? If it's in the Times I thought that it had to be true!!

Posted by M. Simon [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2007 6:44 PM

Actually you don't have to be the fustest with the mostest.

Some times fustest with enough is enough.

Se Gettysburg, Battle Of

Posted by Thanos [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2007 7:05 PM

Just a reminder -- glass houses, stones, etc. If the Democrats want to start accusing people of Klan sympathies, they need to start with their ex-Klansman -- or give it up entirely.

One of my favorite sayings along the same general path of meaning "Don't flame if you live in a matchstick house."

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2007 7:53 PM

orth considering that most Americans don't think of themselves as living in a "house divided." The two-party system we have has withstood thick and thin. And, most people don't identify with either party. Nor do they enjoy vacationing there.

Something has happened, though; within the political class. Where they get situation within a minority party. One side. Or the other. And, people then get to choose which midget will do the least harm.

I've thought about the Ma and Pa Kettle Show; which I was sure was gonna cost the donks votes. But, nope. They're toodling along at speed. Able to galavant to the center at a moment's notice.

While its the republican party that can't quite retain a shape, where lots of "independents" would identify with it.

Why is that?

And, in politics, won't it matter, ahead?

I keep seeing Guiliani as the man to beat, because he comes the closest to having the credentials that appeal to TARGETS, (or voters), who are out there in droves. But who aren't claiming to be members of either party.

What's at stake? More than 50-cent bed sheets.

What fears were behind the set up for the Klan?

Is it possible there were so many terrified white folk, that you could sell them that hooey?

Don't think it matters much these days.

As to Robert Byrd. From the Abraham Lincoln created state of West Virginia; he figured out how the levers of government worked. While other men were just much lazier.

Did you know he became the "go to" person, for pharmaceuticals? He knew how the laws a State needed, needed to be put into place. So thinking that he's a "charmer?" Doesn't hold candle light.

Thinking he's a Klan member? He used the Klan as a vehicle to grow rich. Because he was the guy who collected the monthly fees. Yes. There were fees! Something like $10 a month. (Perhaps, $5 during the Great Depression.) He had a huge suckers list. And, from that he networked into politics.

You'd be surprised what the seeds of some plants look like!

ANd, ya know what? Looking at the seed doesn't give you a clue of what happens when a talented man figures out how to make it big in DC.

The Klan? Had nothing to do with it, except it was Robert Byrd's "start up." And, a place where he got $10 bills, once a month. From white fools who have no brains. I guess for every living human, there's a place where the crap comes out.

By the way, in the history of battles; it doesn't matter what side you were on. The geniuses get recognized by their accomplishments. That's why Patton understood Rommel. (You wonder if the two men talked to each other; what they'd say about their bosses.)

Ah, and to think that Abraham Lincoln was the First Republican! Yet, the party suffers second class status. Even odder when you look over at the competition.

Posted by dajames [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2007 8:16 PM

... glass houses? Then one would have to match an amazingly anomalous low-bar of standards:

"What on earth would possess a GOP lawmaker to quote Forrest on the House floor?" C and L asks.

It's a reasonable question that's really pretty hard to answer if one assumes the person making the comment is an educated, middle-aged experienced politician speaking in congress on video tape and not a "young man" living in "the '60s".

But what makes the question even more difficult to answer is the quote was not a quick mental grab, or impromptu re-call, or even a fumbled aphoristic attempt to punch up his rant; never-mind all that 'cause his speech was just that, speech, pre-thought, written-out and planned to be said on the floor.

Really, the only answer for such a comment is he's an intolerant bigot:

"Please, all of you illegal sympathizers, you are not educated enough to make your decision! WAKE UP!" -- Poe

Posted by KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2007 8:25 PM

Screw 'em...let 'em link. 'They' are the main problem, and are why America needs a rather SERIOUS pruning. 'Their' Karma is akin to the Dualistic World's version of calling in a Napalm Attack onto yore own to speak.

Bill Clinton thought that he understood 'karma', and has at least once spoke of such, as if he had a clue to even the meaning of Non-Duality. Bill's dick does his thinking, and that is a rather simple Dualistic *FACT*!!!

Anyway, let 'em link away...

Posted by quickjustice [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2007 10:14 PM

Mark Twain once said, "To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man's character, one must judge it by the standards of his time, not ours."

From wikipedia: "Perhaps the most highly regarded cavalry and partisan (guerrilla) leader in the war, Forrest is regarded by many military historians as that conflict's most innovative and successful general. His tactics of mobile warfare are still studied by modern soldiers."

For students of military history, Forrest's military exploits teach many useful lessons. His legacy is mixed, because of his founding of the Ku Klux Klan during the Reconstruction to combat the Federal military occupation of the South, and the ills it brought to white Southerners.

Forrest was a man of his times. We can learn from his great talent, without imitating his worst qualities.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 8, 2007 11:21 PM

I think Lincoln even said it better.

He said, "I don't care to know a man's religion. I prefer knowing how he treats his dog."

It seems, with the invention of film, we got a bit thrown off track. People think having the "perfect body." Or finding the best looking guy. Counts for points. Nope.

It's still a matter of good character.

And, sometimes the person with the most of it, has no "good looks" at all, on Hollywood's scale.

We should go back to the old time definitions, though.

As to "going back in time?" People were shorter, then.

I was at the Getty Villa recently. Where you surrounded by replicas of statues 2,000 years old. Those old Romans loved to do statuary. Paintings? Tromp d'olei. Or whatever you call the optical illusion stuff.

But, an off chance remark by our guide, flipped it open for me. He talked about the houses out on the east coast. That are preserved now. And, people during those centuries? I remembered ducking going through doorways. I remember seeing a museum, set up to show the old clothes. And, that's how it dawned on me. People weren't the "same." We've grown taller. And, more robust.

As to Bill Clinton's dick, I just gotta comment. Because Robin Williams does a whole routine. Where you got ONE BLOOD SUPPLY. And, two different places, where it can go, in men. So, that's why sex leads guys to do stupid stuff. Bill Clinton is not an exception.

But impeaching him? Turned out Tom DeLay saw GOP House members getting bounced out of their House seats, in 1998. Didn't go over all that well.

So, if you want to learn political lessons, you really gotta look at outcomes.

Where, who knows? THE GOP may yet select a candidate in 2008 best positioned to WIN.

In a year that doesn't look good for the GOP, in terms of the senate. Given that IN the senate, of the 36 seats that will open up. Only a dozen of them belong to donks. While 24 GOP keisters have to "defend."

Hardly likely that the blue-noses should be out there telling candidates what to do, ya know?

And, up at Drudge? Wowza. The Ma and Pa Kettle act has a very aggressive pelosi.

Go ahead. Make fun of Bill Clinton. But when he left office? He had a committed group of people in this country who loved him. It's Bush whose shedding da' voters. WHY?

And, by the way, when you're losing? It's a good thing to know the person who can stop the trend going downhill, who is best poised to run a country. Big difference in the world when you consider a short term solution can be absolutely awful over the long haul.

Don't ask me. I ain't Nick the Greek. Or the Oracle at Delphi.

As to the "business model?" The KKK stopped delivering profits to the Kleagles. Or Robert Byrd would still be selling bedsheets at an unbelievably high mark up. Do those yahoos still meet and burn crosses?

Posted by Cybrludite [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 9, 2007 12:43 AM

So, who was it that called Byrd the "conscience of the Senate" despite his having been the founder of a Klan chapter as well as a recruiter for the organization? Did they get anywhere near the grief that scuttled Trent Lott for what he said about a former segregationist?

Posted by ModernConservative [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 9, 2007 7:48 AM

Robert Byrd is just the tip of the pointy hat.

In our view, we should be focusing on something much bigger than Senator Byrd. Namely, the fact that the KKK was created by Democrats to serve as the terrorist wing of the Democratic Party, with the specific aim of killing Republicans.

We think THAT is the meme that needs to be spread, because in certain ways, less has changed since 1860 than one might think.

Posted by Davod [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 9, 2007 7:55 AM

They had the KKK in the 1860s. Who do they have now?

Posted by ModernConservative [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 9, 2007 8:06 AM

The continuous thread from 1860 to today is that the Democrats hate Republicans more than anyone else, more than America's enemies. And they hate black Republicans most of all.

Posted by Pious Agnostic [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 9, 2007 11:58 AM

Hmmmm....Democrats lose the 1860 presidential election, and then organize an illegal succession from the Union, sparking a Civil War, mostly because the guy who won the election ran on an anti-slavery platform. During the war, Copperhead Democrats in the North do everything they can to delegitimize the president and undermine the war, even going so far as to attempt a separate peace. After the war, many form the KKK to enforce their failed ideology of hatred, while others consistently adopt and support policies that hinder full equality for all Americans.

And, somehow, Republicans are the bad guys in this story because someone quoted one of them?

Posted by ModernConservative [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 9, 2007 12:16 PM

Pious Agnostic,

You rock. Thank you for making the point so well. These points are part of a message that we will be spreading over the coming months and years. The "we" to which I refer is a sister project to, a project called the New Wide Awakes.

The website is not finished yet, nor have we completed the creation of the materials we will be using. We have already found, however, that while many people think of all this as old news, many in the black community are telling us that the message definitely has resonance to them today.