The Florida Panhandle’s first Black representative since the Civil War just proposed a bill that would make it a crime to remove Confederate memorials, names and symbols in the state, not to mention that any intentional damaging of said memorials would be treated as a third-degree felony.
Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola) insists Gen. Robert E. Lee was more than just “some racist” and lauded him as “a gentleman, a Christian, and a man of great valor who” deserved to be revered, as should all Confederate leaders, the Broward Palm Beach New Times reported. The Florida Republican is now hoping to protect the state’s Confederate monuments, arguing they should be preserved for educational purposes.
“It won’t change any person’s life today by tearing down a Confederate monument or tearing down a statue or tearing down a cross,” Hill told the New Times. “It won’t change any person’s life by doing that. What it will do is prevent someone from learning the history of why it was there in the first place.”
Like most Confederate memorial sympathizers, Hill has downplayed the role of slavery in said history and contended the Civil War was mostly fought for money, but also for states’ rights and the preservation of certain “lifestyles.”
“Slavery was a part of it,” he acknowledged. “And we as a nation overcame that; we fought a terrible war — over 600,000 people died — so that we could rid this nation of slavery.”
“I think that’s something that we shouldn’t erase or try to run away from,” he continued. “That’s something that we should understand, know and be proud of, that we were a nation that did that.”
Elected to the Florida House in 2013, Hill is perhaps best known for trying to have Donald Trump‘s twice pick-axed Hollywood Walk of Fame star moved to Pensacola, the newspaper noted. He also drew the ire of fellow Republican leaders after making “sexist” and “racist” comments against other conservatives, including opponent Rebekeh Bydlak. According to the New Times, the Republican Liberty Congress pointed to a social media post Hill shared that questioned how Bydlak could lead without ever having mothered a child.
In other social media posts, Hill reportedly called for expelling the “demonic Muslim horde,” and described Islam as a “cancer.”