Josh McKoon condemns Klan support from Georgia state representative

Kyle Nazario

Sen. McKoon speaks in the Georgia legislature

Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) spoke briefly about the remarks of a state representative in favor of the Ku Klux Klan.
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Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) spoke briefly about the remarks of a state representative in favor of the Ku Klux Klan.

Georgia state Sen. Josh McKoon condemned historical revisionism of the Ku Klux Klan's murders while calling for more polite political discourse that could allow state legislators to work together in the future.

"I rise today to discuss the recent comments made by a member of this General Assembly regarding the Ku Klux Klan," McKoon said. "The comments made are contemptible. They're wrong, and they deserve the strongest possible public condemnation."

McKoon was referring to comments made by state Rep. Tommy Benton that while he did not approve of everything the Klan did, they "made a lot of people straighten up."

Benton told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he strongly supports Georgia's Confederate heritage. He introduced House Resolution 1179, a bill asking that the "heroes of the Confederate States of America... shall never been 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."

Benton said his work is a response to Senate Bill 294, which would prevent formal recognition of holidays to honor the Confederacy.

"That's no better than what ISIS is doing, destroying museums and monuments," he told the AJC.

McKoon condemned Benton's remark while deploring the "coarse language" used in political discourse against people one disagrees with.

"In 2016, one would hope we would not even have to have this discussion," McKoon said. "The Klan was the original domestic terrorist organization. There is simply no excusing the murderous, terroristic campaign they waged against Americans. I hope that the author of these comments will reconsider them and apologize for them."

Georgia Public Broadcasting backs up McKoon's characterization of the Klan, calling them an organization of white supremacists that "violently intimidated blacks and Republicans who tried to win political power."

"Originally founded as a social club for former Confederate soldiers, the Klan evolved into a terrorist organization," GPB wrote. "It would be responsible for thousands of deaths, and would help to weaken the political power of Southern blacks and Republicans."

According to the latest AJC report, Benton's comments have been met with "condemnation from Democrats and calls for House Speaker David Ralston to discipline him."

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