According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the annual event at which Dismukes spoke has ties to the League of the South, a neo-confederate hate group. But Dismukes says he’s not a racist. “I love people of all colors of all nationalities,” he says. “I try to find the common good in each and every individual no matter what your past is, no matter what you’re going through. We just literally live in an age of intolerance, and that’s the intolerance on both sides. It’s no longer okay to have an opposing viewpoint on something, and it’s disappointing.”
Dismukes, who maintains that slavery wasn’t the primary cause of the U.S. Civil War, says, “I’m certainly a supporter of my Southern heritage, and I’m not ashamed of my family and in our service during the War Between the States. That’s one thing I won’t apologize for.”
Politicians Call for Rep. Dismukes to Step Down
Colleagues from both parties have called for Dismukes to step down from his political office, but he says he has no intention to do so.
Sen. Clyde Chambliss, who says he tries to avoid public criticism of colleagues, tweeted: “… the real problem is that an elected official in 2020 would attend a celebration of the life of someone that led a group that terrorized and killed other human beings.” Dismukes’ TV interview, says Chambliss, “confirms that he is lacking in understanding and judgment.”
Calls for resignation also came from the Young Republican Federation of Alabama, which censured Dismukes and removed all support from him. “Rep. Dismukes made it clear which side of history he wishes to side with,” the group states. “Not only is this display tone deaf and disrespectful, but it directly contradicts the values that our party should stand for.”
Terry Lathan, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, says of Dismukes, “It is one thing to honor one’s Southern heritage; however, it is completely another issue to specifically commemorate the leader of an organization with an indisputable history of unconscionable actions and atrocities toward African-Americans. The Alabama of today was on full, honorable display as we paid humble tribute this weekend to the life of Congressman John Lewis. That is the Alabama that we are proud of.”
Throughout the south, statues of Confederate leaders such as Nathan Bedford Forrest are being defaced and torn down in the wake of racial-justice protests.
Health Crisis Led Dismukes to Ministry
In a biography posted on Facebook, Dismukes is described as an Alabama native and former standout athlete. During college, he had a stroke that “crystalized [his] deep faith and commitment to the Lord.” That “life-altering experience,” from which he completely recovered, also led Dismukes to feel called to ministry. His first position was as a youth pastor.
Now a 30-year-old husband and father, Dismukes boasts of a strong voting record on pro-life issues.