Gov. Barbour: Jim Crow Segregation Wasn’t ‘That Bad’

December 20, 2010

(ChattahBox Political News)—Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) is widely viewed in the Republican Party as a credible 2012 presidential candidate. Barbour, who is known for making racially insensitive comments and engaging in revisionist history of the Confederacy and the segregated South, was true to form in a new Weekly Standard profile. He not only praised the White Supremacist Citizens’ Councils, but he also fluffed off the racial segregation of the Jim Crow era, as not “being that bad.” Sure, it probably wasn’t all that bad if you were white. Barbour isn’t exactly known for his deep insights obviously, but this is just odious. Imagine a future “President Barbour,” regaling his good ol’ boy supporters with one of his famous racist jokes, such as the time he warned an aide that “he would be reincarnated as a watermelon and placed at the mercy of blacks.”

Barbour, also proudly displays a Confederate flag in his office and looks for political inspiration from the words of Jim Eastland, a notorious segregationist who railed against Brown v. Board of Education saying, “Segregation is not discrimination,” adding “it is the law of nature, it is the law of God…”

Still, you would think he would try to back away from his racism in the Weekly Standard interview, as he positions himself as a viable candidate for the President of the United States, but no.

“In interviews Barbour doesn’t have much to say about growing up in the midst of the civil rights revolution. “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” he said. “I remember Martin Luther King came to town, in ’62. He spoke out at the old fairground and it was full of people, black and white.”

Did you go? I asked.

“Sure, I was there with some of my friends.”

I asked him why he went out.

“We wanted to hear him speak.”

I asked what King had said that day.

“I don’t really remember. The truth is, we couldn’t hear very well. We were sort of out there on the periphery. We just sat on our cars, watching the girls, talking, doing what boys do. We paid more attention to the girls than to King.”

Later in the interview, he credited the Southern White Citizens’ Councils for promoting racism without the violence of the KKK. Apparently, intimidation and economic revenge to perpetuate segregation is commendable in Barbour’s worldview.

“Both Mr. Mott and Mr. Kelly had told me that Yazoo City was perhaps the only municipality in Mississippi that managed to integrate the schools without violence. I asked Haley Barbour why he thought that was so.”

“Because the business community wouldn’t stand for it,” he said. “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

The Talking Points Memo has a good take on the odiousness of Barbour’s praise for the segregationist Citizens’ Councils:

“Most folks familiar with the history of the last half century know the ‘White Citizen’s Council’ movement as the pro-segregationist para-government movement dedicated to preserving white supremacy as federal laws began forcing school integration and an end to racial discrimination in the South.”

“But in his new profile in the Weekly Standard Haley Barbour says they were just some good Americans organizing together to help preserve racial harmony.”

Maybe this is Barbour’s warped version of a vile “Southern Strategy” for his upcoming presidential campaign against President Obama, our first black president. And if it’s intentional, it’s even more disgusting.

You may recall, Barbour’s reaction to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s leaving out the mention of slavery from his Confederacy proclamation last year.

“To me, it’s a sort of feeling that it’s a nit, that it is not significant, that it’s not a — it’s trying to make a big deal out of something doesn’t amount to diddly,” said Barbour.

Photo Source: Wikimedia/ FEMA, Public Domain


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