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Haley Barbour Won't Denounce Proposal Honoring Confederate General, Early KKK Leader

Haley Barbour
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour speaks at a news conference held by Republican Congressional leaders on November 3, 2010 in Washington, DC. Getty Images

Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is refusing to condemn a state proposal that would honor a Confederate General and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, the Associated Press reports, telling reporters on Tuesday that "I don't go around denouncing people."

The proposal, brought up by the Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans, seeks to create a state-issued license plate honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army and, it is believed one of the earliest members of (and first "Grand Wizard" to) the white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan.

Barbour, considered a potential 2012 presidential candidate, said he didn't think the proposal would be successful and that he did not, as a policy, denounce things or people.

"I don't go around denouncing people," he said, according to the Associated Press, when asked for a response to the proposal. "That's not going to happen. I don't even denounce the news media."

"I know there's not a chance it'll become law," he added.

Derrick Johnson, of the Mississippi chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said on Tuesday that Barbour's refusal to speak out against the proposal was "curious."

"I find it curious that the governor won't come out and clearly denounce the efforts of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to honor Nathan Bedford Forrest," Johnson told the AP. "As the head of the state, he shouldn't tap dance around the question."

Forrest, a slave trader before the Civil War, is thought to have distanced himself from the KKK later in life.

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