A Georgia state representative who said the Ku Klux Klan “made a lot of people straighten up” and tried to force the state to formally recognize Robert E. Lee’s birthday and Confederate Memorial Day as official holidays has been named to a study committee on civics education.
House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, made the announcement in a press release Friday appointing Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, as one of three House Republicans tapped to study how civics education should be taught in Georgia’s public schools and issue a report for improvements by the end of the year.
Benton, who chairs the House Aging and Human Relations Committee, is a retired school teacher from Jackson County, but his unconventional takes on American history have outraged some and earned him criticism in the past. In interviews with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution amid public debate over the continued display of the Confederate battle flag, Benton claimed people misunderstood Southern history, including the role of the Ku Klux Klan.
The Klan “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order,” he said, in comments published by the AJC in January 2016. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)