This was originally a Facebook Post by Chad Riden. Re-posted with his permission.
REP. RAGAN DECLINES TO DENOUNCE THE KLAN
State Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge), representing District 33 in Anderson County, made it clear in an exchange with Chad that he has no intention of distancing himself from the KKK, despite being given every opportunity.
Chad emailed each of the 11 legislators in the ‘Naming, Designating, & Private Acts Committee’ who voted NO on HJR0686 (General Assembly, Statement of Intent or Position – Suggests removing Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from State Capitol and replacing it with tribute to more deserving Tennessean.).
His email said the folowing:
“Did you realize you’re becoming internet famous? The attached image has been posted to Reddit Instagram Facebook Twitter and probably other places.
People are saying that by voting NO to remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust you are standing strong in support of the KKK. Are you a member of the Klan? Or are you merely in support of continuing to honor the murderous slaver who served as their first grand wizard? Is there a difference?
I would like to know why you think it’s a good idea to honor this murderer in our state capital.”
This is the image Chad included:
According to Chad, the offices of Rep. Jerry Sexton and Rep. Mike Sparks responded with a generic “thank you for your message” type email.
Rep. John Ragan, however, responded personally by sending him the text of this entire article defending Nathan Bedford Forrest, the KKK’s First Grand Wizard, as an “activist for black civil rights”.
According to Chad…
“I have heard that NBF changed his mind near the end of his life but this is the story about him that haunts me:
‘The Battle of Fort Pillow on April 12, 1864 ended with a massacre of African-American Union troops and their white officers attempting to surrender, by soldiers under the command Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Union survivors claimed that even though all their troops surrendered, Forrest’s men massacred some in cold blood. Surviving members of the garrison said that most of their men surrendered and threw down their arms, only to be shot or bayoneted by the attackers, who repeatedly shouted, “No quarter! No quarter!”
A letter from one of Forrest’s own sergeants, Achilles V. Clark, writing to his sisters on April 14, reads in part:
“The slaughter was awful. Words cannot describe the scene. The poor deluded negros would run up to our men fall on their knees and with uplifted hands scream for mercy but they were ordered to their feet and then shot down. The whitte \[sic\] men fared but little better. The fort turned out to be a great slaughter pen. Blood, human blood stood about in pools and brains could have been gathered up in any quantity. I with several others tried to stop the butchery and at one time had partially succeeded but Gen. Forrest ordered them shot down like dogs and the carnage continued. Finally our men became sick of blood and the firing ceased.”‘
I’m uncomfortable celebrating a man who ever did that. The only people I hear defending Nathan Bedford Forrest are white supremacists. How do you feel about the Black lives matter movement? Will you go on the record denouncing the KKK?”
Rep. Ragan wrote back:
“Dear Mr. Riden,
Your description of Fort Pillow is questionable when considered objectively. It remains unclear whether Forrest ordered the massacre, encouraged it, ignored it, or — as he later claimed — was unaware of it. He was never charged or tried for the events at Fort Pillow.
Please consult any of the following sources and you will see that Forrest was never convicted of any of the accusations you posited:
These trials can be found via a link on the catalog records on the Library of Congress Online catalog. The military trials encompass several departments:
Military Trials: Middle Department, 1862 – 1866
General Court Martial Orders: Department of the South, 1862 – 1868
General Court Martial Orders: Department of the Cumberland, 1866 – 1870
General Court Martial Orders: Department of the Missouri, 1861 – 1863, 1866 – 1867, 1868, 1869 – 1870, 1871 – 1872
General Court Martial Orders: Department of the Gulf, 1862 -1867
General Court Martial Orders: Department of Texas 1861, 1865 – 1866, 1870 -1872
The military trials are viewable in PDF and Page turner versions. The name indexes have been included and tabbed in the PDF view, and in some of the volumes a subject index is available.
Relative to your other questions: you may consult my record and you will have your answers.
John D. Ragan
I wrote back:
“Thank you for responding I do appreciate it.
However you have not answered the questions I asked very directly:
How do you feel about the Black lives matter movement?
Will you go on the record denouncing the KKK?”
“Dear Mr. Riden,
Neither I, nor any of my direct forbearers, going all the way back to the one exiled by Oliver Cromwell to Jamestown in 1690, ever owned slaves. While I condemn that institution unequivocally, I owe no one an apology for it.
Moreover, my children have ancestors who fought for both the Union and the Confederacy. However, none of those ever owned slaves, either. Therefore, neither they, nor I, owe anyone apologies for slavery.
Furthermore, there were atrocities as well as heroes and villains on both sides of the Civil War. Additionally, there were black slave owners and blacks fought for both the Union and the Confederacy. There were slave owners in the North and the South including Union General U.S. Grant.
Your historical research relative to Confederate General Forrest is inadequate. If you refuse educate yourself, it appears future discussion on the topic is futile.
Finally, your juvenile attempts at insults to a veteran of two theaters of conflict though 24 year of military service, of which 8 were overseas, are ridiculous. I have served in deserts and jungles and picked up body parts of a comrade-in-arms from blood soaked ground. Moreover, while on active duty, I have had the very sad duty of escorting my squadron mate and best friend’s widow down a funeral isle to stand before his flag draped casket…an active duty fatality. Consequently, I do not need you to churlishly challenge my loyalty to the US Constitution, especially the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.
You may consult my record for answers to your other questions.”
I guess I struck a nerve. I replied:
I didn’t ask if your family owned slaves but thank you for that information. Sorry if you feel insulted, that was never my intention. I just want to know:
How do you feel about the Black lives matter movement?
Will you go on the record denouncing the KKK?”
His response? You guessed it:
“You may consult my record for answers to your other questions.
John D. Ragan
John D. Ragan, State Representative REFUSED to denounce the KKK multiple times and told me to consult his voting record for my answer.
His voting record shows he wishes to honor Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the KKK.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s a confirmation that John Ragan from Oak Ridge, representing District 33 in Anderson County, fully supports the KKK.
We asked Rep. John ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Ragan why he asked about the American Psychology Association’s stance on Conversion Therapy in committee. He says he’s “gathering info”.
The APA is against conversion therapy. It’s banned in 19 states.
Republicans voted 4-2 to defeat The Tennessee Hunger-Free Students Act-a bill with three measures to ensure students can eat school lunches and not be punished when parents fail to pay meal fees or a meal debt.
The bill sponsor Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said the bill would stop school employees from throwing away a served meal if the student could not pay, and would also prohibit schools from punishing or shaming students who accumulated a meal debt. Students are likely to struggle to pay for their meals every day. A lot of them struggle to find the time to work as they have so much school work to do. However, if these students really wanted to start making money, they could visit a website like https://learnbonds.com/bitcoin-robot/british-bitcoin-profit/ to learn about trading Bitcoin. That wouldn’t take too much time, so students could probably do this alongside their schoolwork. It might be worth considering.
Quite often, the students who accumulate meal debt come from families who are in debt themselves. In fact, in 2015 a study showed that 80% of Americans are caught up in the chains of debt. Unfortunately, not many of these families will be aware of debt settlement and therefore they will continue to struggle. These students shouldn’t be punished or shamed.
“We certainly do not want to have a child stigmatized or punished in any way for simply incurring a lunch debt at no fault of their own. We have had incidents in recent years in Tennessee where students have been treated adversely or stigmatized in some manner. Whether it’s being made to eat in the principal’s office and eat a peanut butter sandwich by themselves simply because they had a lunch debt, or being prevented from going on field trips because of a lunch debt, we want to prevent these types of things… this is no fault of the child.”
House Bill 0827 would also have required schools to contact a guardian after a student accumulates a debt of five meals or more.
Here’s a clip of the vote:
Republicans Seemed Supportive, But Then…
Both Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, District 40 (last seen defending her support for the bust of the KKK Grand Wizard bust in the capitol by saying “some of my best friends are black”) and Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83, spoke seemingly in support of children eating school lunches despite a meal debt… but would eventually go on to vote it down.
Rep. White said:
“Any adult who would shame a child over an issue like this-shame on them.”
But then he used his remaining time to fixate on the unspecified cost of school lunches.
The fiscal note included on the original version bill, which White read aloud, said local school districts would lose an unknown amount of revenue on meal debts left unrecovered, but “Otherwise, the fiscal impact of the legislation is considered not significant.”
Rep. Iris Rudder spoke up as she voted, saying she was inclined to vote yes but decided at the last minute that she didn’t understand the bill.
Reps. Weaver, White, and Rudder ultimately voted against the bill-possibly denying lunch to some students who incurred a meal debt.
It should be noted that the very same day this bill was voted down for reasons of fiscal responsibility the Tennessean broke a story that under Speaker Glen Casada taxpayers have paid $7 Million more to run the TN House, and that his Chief of Staff is being paid $200,000 per year – a $130,000 raise from last year.
It should also be noted that today Rep. Weaver today gave a passionate speech in favor of the heartbeat bill HB 0077 and adamantly insisted we do everything in our power to protect the sanctity of life – but apparently that doesn’t extend to children of school age.
Rep. Kirk Haston, a coach and teacher out of Lobelville, was the only Republican to vote in favor of the bill.
Rep. John Ray Clemmons, who is running for mayor of Nashville had this to say to The Holler about the failure of his bill:
“With this legislation, we intended to protect children from stigmatization and bullying as a result of incurring a lunch debt. As we all know, incurring a lunch debt at school is no fault of a child and is often not the fault of a parent who is doing the best they can to provide for their child. Under no scenario should a child should be treated differently or adversely or discriminated against in any way if they’ve incurred a meal debt in our state. This legislation would have protected our children. I am disappointed that a few Republicans killed what should have been a non-partisan piece of legislation to protect innocent children.”
How they voted: K-12 Education Subcommittee, March 6;
Representatives voting Aye:
Rep. Kirk Haston, R-Lobelville, District 72
Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, District 41
Representatives voting No against the bill:
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, District 40
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83
This week Tennessee Republicans have introduced a handful of bills that seek to legalize discrimination against Tennessee’s marginalized communities, targeting LGBT people specifically.
Up first, “The Business License to Discriminate Bill” is back. It passed the Tennessee Senate in 2017, but didn’t move in the House last year.
The bill – SB364/HB563 – put forth by Senator Todd Gardenhire and Rep. Jason Zachary, would:
“prohibit state and local governmental entities from taking discriminatory action against a business based on that business’s internal policies.”
By defending businesses from “discrimination” rather than people, what the bill really seeks to do is allow businesses to do the discriminating against marginalized communities without worrying about losing government contracts – which would essentially amount to taxpayer-funded discrimination against marginalized groups such as LGBT people, Muslims, etc.
As Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project puts it:
“If, for example, a business has a policy of not treating married same-gender couples the same as different-gender couples, government could not refuse to contract with them solely on that basis.”
Meanwhile, on the adoption front, multiple bills filed this week would allow adoption agencies to deny services to same-sex couples based on religious objections. This seems ridiculous. These are loving couples who want to help a child, but the image of people assuming they’ll only care about spending time on an SLS Dating Site, and the idea that they are somehow morally questionable for doing so, is causing such difficulties. It is clearly biased.
According to The Tennessean:
One bill, SB 0848/HB 1152, filed by Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, and Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, specifies that an adoption agency would not be required to provide services to a couple if it would conflict with the agency’s “sincerely held religious beliefs,” and prevents the state or a local government from taking adverse action against the group.
Legislation filed by Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, puts in place similar protections for discrimination based on religious beliefs and would prevent a couple from suing the adoption agency for refusing to provide services.”
Got that? One says the couple can’t sue, the other says the government can’t sue. Taken together, these two bills would allow adoption agencies to discriminate with impunity.
As Senator Joey Hensley openly admits:
“We were concerned that adoption agencies, such as religious adoption agencies, would be required to allow adoption when they had religious beliefs that contradicted certain lifestyles. That they would be forced to allow adoptions to people they felt were not appropriate parents, so we didn’t want those agencies to not be able to provide adoptions.”
Not “appropriate” parents. Meanwhile studies show children have just as much chance to thrive with “certain” parents as with straight parents, and the number of children being raised by “certain” parents is in the hundreds of thousands.
More good information can be found here.
The Human Rights Campaign and other organizations will join the Tennessee Equality Project in opposing this discriminatory legislation that Sanders says “does not put the interests of children first”.