Republican state Rep. Tommy Benton of Georgia recently introduced a state amendment that would keep Stone Mountain Park as a memorial to the Confederacy.
Stone Mountain Park features carvings of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Army Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
Some Georgians want the stone carvings removed because the Confederate Army fought the United States in order to keep black people enslaved in the South during the Civil War.
“They got their flag changed and we got Stone Mountain,” Benton told WSB-TV.
Benton, a former history teacher, owns several pieces of Confederate memorabilia.
“The idea that slavery was the cause of the war, it wasn't," Benton insisted. "The Southern states seceded because the North was advocating doing away with slavery, but they offered no idea as to what the South would do with a loss of $2 billion worth of property, per se."
After referring to black people as "property," Benton went on to blame African-Americans for not opposing black people in Africa who sold slaves to America centuries ago.
“I understand that African-Americans, for the most part, have a problem with the slavery issue, but they don't denounce their ancestors that were in Africa that were selling slaves,” Benton told WSB-TV.
Benton added that the KKK, which terrorized and killed black people for decades in the U.S., "kind of made people straighten up."
“It was not just based on race as such, it was based on, I guess you would call them vigilantes,” Benton said.
“Rep. Tommy Benton's backwards, out-of-touch views on the KKK and slavery make it clear that he is unfit to represent the people of Georgia," said the African-American group Better Georgia, according to WSB-TV.
“They find it offensive because they have not been taught a true history of the war,” Benton countered.
Benton is also upset that Democratic state Sen. Vincent Fort is proposing a bill that would ban the state from recognizing holidays that honor the Confederate States of America or its leaders, reported The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“That’s no better than what ISIS is doing, destroying museums and monuments,” Benton told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I feel very strongly about this. I think it has gone far enough. There is some idea out there that certain parts of history out there don’t matter anymore and that’s a bunch of bunk.”
Fort responded: “For him to degenerate into that kind of name calling is beneath a response from me. That kind of hyperbole does not allow for anything approaching a debate. It’s unfortunate that he would use that language.”
Fort says people can privately honor the Confederacy however they want, but added, “I don’t believe that taxpayer funds should be used to commemorate people who stole the freedom of other human beings.”
Benton also gave another defense of the KKK, which he said “was not so much a racist thing, but a vigilante thing to keep law and order."
“It made a lot of people straighten up,” Benton said. “I’m not saying what they did was right. It’s just the way things were.”
“A great majority of prominent men in the South were members of the Klan,” Benton added. “Should that affect their reputation to the extent that everything else good that they did was forgotten.”