Some Republicans Compare Taking Down Confederate Symbols To ISIS Destroying Cultural Monuments

06/24/2015 09:52 pm ET | Updated Jun 25, 2015
ERIK PEREL via Getty Images

Republicans opposed to removing the Confederate flag and other Confederate symbols in the South are falsely equating it to ISIS demolishing cultural artifacts in Iraq and Syria.

In Tennessee, Democratic lawmakers are advocating renaming Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park, named after the first head of the Ku Klux Klan. But Republican state Sen. John Stevens, who represents the district where the park is located, told a local newspaper that the renaming efforts were similar to ISIS's destruction.

"What separates us from ISIS? Because that's what they do, they go around and tear down history in those nations that they've conquered," Stevens said. "If that's what America is about now, then it concerns me."

ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, has destroyed major cultural artifacts in Iraq and Syria and has looted and bulldozed museums where these artifacts are housed. Some of the sites are among the world's oldest cities, dating back 3,000 years.

But the artifacts being destroyed by ISIS are historically and archeologically important treasures, not offensive symbols of white supremacy lacking any historical significance.

Stevens is not opposed to renaming the park, but said that "it's a slippery slope when you start changing names and taking down statues."

He is not the only one attempting to connect ISIS with the controversy over Confederate markers in the South. Later Wednesday, right-wing radio host Todd Starnes claimed that removing the Confederate flag from public places and products amounted to "cultural cleansing."

"You know who else has been doing some cultural cleansing these days? These guys, the Islamic State — bulldozing their way through history, turning Iraq's heritage into rubble," Starnes said.

Starnes added that he thought the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin "would be bursting with pride."

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