The Cristiano Ronaldo statue, but make it Civil War.
On December 7, the statue of Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest was removed from the side of the highway along Interstate 65 in Nashville, Tennessee, the Washington Post reported.
Unlike other Civil War statues erected on public land, the cartoonish tribute to the Confederate general was on private land and thus had repelled previous attempts for removal.
For more than two decades the bizarre, nay even deranged depiction of Forrest remained an odd blight on the land — that is until its owner, Bill Dorris, died last year.
Since this legendary atrocity of a Nathan Bedford Forrest statue came down on I-65 this morning, people are asking me what they can flip off now on the way to Nashville … I dunno, passing cars? Just watch the bumper stickers as they go by; you’ll know what to do. pic.twitter.com/7lnIylIJYb
— Civil War Humor (@CivilWarHumor) December 7, 2021
According to the Tennessean , the statue “was repeatedly vandalized, had been shot several times and was in disrepair. The removal of the statue was not announced ahead of time, and a security guard said it was moved to a shed on the property.”
The executor of Dorris’ will released a joint statement with his lawyer and the Battle of Nashville Trust last Tuesday delineating four main reasons why the statue was removed:
- 1. Forrest was not at the Battle of Nashville
- 2. The statue was “ugly and a blight on Nashville”
- 3. The statue had fallen into disrepair, was vandalized and was dangerous
- 4. Because of its divisive nature, having the statue in a prominent location distracted from the mission of the Battle of Nashville Trust
In 1998 Dorris commissioned his friend, Jack Kershaw, to sculpt Forrest’s likeness. What resulted was a 25-foot statue of the general atop a horse, gun in one hand and a sword in the other, and molded to have an expression that one local blogger, Brent K. Moore, described in 2006 as “an expression that one makes after sitting on a thumb tack.”
Kershaw was neither an artist nor sculptor, rather a co-founder of the white supremacist group League of the South and the lawyer who defended James Earl Ray, the man convicted of assassinating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., according to the Washington Post.
The statue became even more farcical after protesters vandalized it with hot-pink paint. Dorris decided to leave the statue that hue, calling pink “a real good color.”
The statue gained national attention in recent years, with comedian Stephen Colbert describing it as showing that the Confederacy was “founded by skirt-wearing nutcrackers riding wet lizards.” Last Week Tonight host John Oliver said it looked “like if a nickel did cocaine.”
Yet despite the abject absurdity of the statue, the figure of Forrest belies something far more sinister.
The Confederate general was a known slave trader, the commanding officer who oversaw the massacre of hundreds of Black Union soldiers at Fort Pillow — a war crime — and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
For many, the news of the removal was met with cheers.
“This has been a national embarrassment,” Democratic state Sen. Heidi Campbell said at the scene of the removal. “I’m so excited. This is great news. It’s just so hurtful to people, not to mention it’s heinously ugly.”