ALGOP chairman condemns Rep. Dismukes for Nathan Bedford Forrest celebration — ‘I find his statement to be shallow in understanding’
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan on Monday afternoon strongly criticized State Rep. Will Dismukes (R-Prattville), stopping short of calling for his resignation.
Dismukes on Sunday posted a picture of himself at a birthday celebration for Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a Confederate general and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
As reported by Yellowhammer News, Dismukes on Monday morning issued a statement regarding that picture.
While he denounced the KKK, the freshman legislator did not address why he was at the celebration in the first place or why he said that annual event is “[a]lways a great time.”
Lathan reacted to Dismukes’ statement in critical terms.
“While Rep. Dismukes has released a statement attempting to clarify his actions as a private citizen attending a celebration of the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, Alabamians hold their elected officials to a high standard of actions. So does the Republican Party,” she began in a statement.
“Rep. Dismukes offered no explanation for why he participated in a birthday celebration of Nathan Bedford Forrest,” Lathan decried. “Additionally, I find his statement to be shallow in understanding why his activities are deeply offensive to so many Alabamians.”
The ALGOP chair then advised that Dismukes’ “constituents will be the final decision makers of his political future.”
She also highlighted that Alabama Republican leaders — and residents across the state — had honored the legacy of civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) on Saturday and Sunday.
“The Alabama of today was on full, honorable display as we paid humble tribute this weekend to the life of Congressman John Lewis. That is the Alabama that we are proud of – showing the nation and world that we are one in the common goals of equality for all of our citizens,” Lathan stated.
“It is one thing to honor one’s Southern heritage, however, it is completely another issue to specifically commemorate the leader of an organization with an indisputable history of unconscionable actions and atrocities toward African-Americans. I strongly urge his constituents to contact Rep. Dismukes to articulate and share with him their thoughts on his personal actions,” she concluded.
Around the same time that Lathan released her statement, the College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) called for Dismukes’ resignation.
Please see our statement regarding the recent post made by State Representative Will Dismukes. pic.twitter.com/kbVisBPJtM
— College Republican Federation of Alabama (@CRFAlabama) July 27, 2020
In a tweet, CRFA chairman Clint Reid added, “Nathan Bedford Forrest was a traitor to this nation and an evil man. He should not be celebrated. Period.”
UPDATE 2:40 p.m.:
Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) released a statement regarding Dismukes.
“The Alabama Republican Caucus is comprised of 75 men and women, each of whom have their own beliefs and principles that guide their lives. The personal beliefs expressed by any one member do not reflect the beliefs of the others, and their activities outside the Legislature should be considered their own, as well,” Ledbetter said.
“Several of our Republican Caucus members have reached out to me with concerns about the content and timing of a recent social media post by State Rep. Will Dismukes, and I, as a House member, share those concerns,” he advised.
Ledbetter concluded, “We live in a nation that guarantees each citizen the right to express the ideas they wish to share, and in the case of a public official, voters will ultimately decide if they agree with those ideas.”
UPDATE 3:40 p.m.:
Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) released a statement about Dismukes.
“The Alabama House cannot police the beliefs, statements, and activities of its members outside the Legislature as that is a job best assigned to voters in each House district across the state,” the speaker stated.
“It is important to note, however, that I and many other members of the House devoted our weekend toward honoring an Alabama native and civil rights icon who dedicated his life to securing freedom, liberty, and equality for all Americans,” McCutcheon added.
I was humbled today as I paid my respects to the Honorable Congressman John Lewis. I am grateful to the Lewis Family for providing Alabama citizens the opportunity to participate in the memorial celebration of Congressman Lewis’s life. pic.twitter.com/Fo1JusbCJh
— Speaker Mac McCutcheon (@MacDistrict25) July 26, 2020
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn