New TLC Series "United Bates of America" ... Racism Disguised as Patriotism?

The Bates are a family much like the Duggars. They have a lot of children. They're Christian. They love Rick Santorum, even though he is an evil Catholic. They're into arranged marriages, but call them courtships. Now, they have their own television series on TLC!

On Monday, August 13 at 9 PM ET/PT, TLC welcomes another supersized family in UNITED BATES OF AMERICA, an all-new series following Gil & Kelly Jo Bates and their large brood of 19 children, ranging in age from six-months to 23-years old. Audiences will recognize the Bates family from several episodes of the hit series 19 KIDS AND COUNTING, as they are close friends of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar's clan. Each thirty-minute episode of UNITED BATES OF AMERICA explores a new adventure with the Bates family as they manage everyday life in the hills of Tennessee-and the inevitable chaos that ensues with 10 girls and 9 boys running around under one roof.

This eight-part series begins with newborn Jeb's emotional homecoming from the hospital-and the unavoidable adjustment of adding another child to the family-along with the children planning for their much-anticipated annual Valentine's "I Love You Day" gift exchange soiree. Over the course of the season, Kelly Jo and Gil share their love of music and family values-from homeschooling their children, to goofing off while building chicken coops and whitewater rafting. Second oldest daughter Erin, heads off to college for the first time to continue her education beyond her many years of homeschooling and the gang goes to hang out with the Duggars at the biggest social event of the year-the annual ATI homeschooling conference.

While the Bates family makes the country life look easy, they aren't without their struggles. See how the family copes with the older boys working at Gil's dangerous tree-cutting business, and when Kelly Jo is hospitalized, can the family function smoothly without her?

The Bates may come off as a wholesome family whose values hearken back to simpler time, and that's probably because they are.

After adding onto and then redecorating their home, Kelly Bates posted photos of their classic Americana decor to the family website. This included the Roy Rogers Room, Fireman Bath, Dad and Mom's Date Booth, John Deere Room ... and the Patriotic Room.

Various sites critical to the Bates' ties to Gothardism were quick to notice something hanging from the walls of the Patriotic Room: Two drawn portraits of Stonewall Jackson and Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Here is a quick history lesson for those unaware of who these two men were ... Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson was one of the most well known Confederate Generals during the American Civil War. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Lieutenant General in the Confederate Army. Before the war, he made millions as a slave trader. He commanded troops in a massacre of black prisoners. Forrest was also an early member of the Ku Klux Klan, possibly Grand Wizard.

These portraits are placed above a sign with "GOD BLESS AMERICA" written on it. The sign is a bit ironic, as these two men fought to secede from the United States of America over states' rights (to own slaves, mainly).

Perhaps it is more telling that Kelly Bates quickly removed the photo of the portraits after people complained on her site. (The image wasn't completely deleted and can still be found here, proving that it does come directly from their site. In case it is ever deleted, a screenshot can be found here showing the URL, which is the Bates' website.) The Bates haven't commented on the photo or why it was removed from the original post.

Portraits of Confederate Generals, one also a member of the KKK, in a patriotic themed room ... Is it racist? Or is it simply an interest in history? Many use their heritage as a defense of having either pictures of Confederate army members in their homes or flying the Confederate flag. Would TLC be promoting this as a family friendly show if the Bates were of German descent and had pictures of Goebbels and Mengele as patriots? There are always lessons to be taken away from history, but that doesn't mean history is always something of which to be proud.

Sources: 1 & 2