Near Nashville Tennessee just off I-65 one can see what may be the single most bizarre and unintentionally hilarious statue in the world, supposedly depicting Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Reportedly made of injection-molded fiberglass possibly covered with foil (though it looks more like colored plastic to me), it has a “silver” figure of “Forrest” riding a rearing “golden” horse while firing a revolver wildly at something unseen off his port quarter, a direction Forrest isn’t looking.
It gets worse. The 25-foot-tall statue, which is on private land, was erected in 1998 by amateur sculptor Jack Kershaw, an attorney who defended the murderer of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
The mayor of the nearest town has asked the governor to conceal the eyesore. (See her open letter in the Nashville Tennessean.) Bill Dorris, the currently owner of the land under the statue, has vowed that if the view from the highway is blocked by trees or a wall or whatever, he’ll just put it on a taller pedestal. I can imagine this escalating to the point that the horse’s nose would have to be fitted with a flashing beacon for the safety of aircraft, which would make it even funnier. (By the way, according to The Washington Post, Dorris has called slavery a form of “social security” for African Americans. See also this report from WSMV television.)
But the funniest take on it is below, from Friday’s Late Night with Stephen Colbert:
In real life, General N Bedford Forrest was an untrained military genius who began the war as a private after a career that included slave trading but rapidly advanced up the ranks. Personally courageous, he showed no mercy to his opponents and was alleged to have committed at least one major war crime (but was never prosecuted for it). After the war he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and possibly one of its founders and leaders, though there seems to be some dispute about this. The statue doesn’t capture his physical likeness, but it might be a reasonably good depiction of his mentality.