How many times can Haley Barbour stick his foot in his mouth when it comes to race in America? Recently he said he was proud of being a lobbyist and earlier has been exposed as a lover of the ol' White Citizens Councils, which made him go into serious damage-control mode.
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.”
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.”
Just to stipulate: In reality, the Ku Klux Klan in the South, both immediately after the Civil War and in its post-1915 reincarnation, in fact always was an organization of town leaders -- but secretly. The White Citizens Councils were merely their public face.
So I don't really understand this one. Haley Barbour in KKK plate uproar
In the latest racially charged incident in his home state, Haley Barbour on Tuesday drew fire when he refused to condemn a proposal honoring a Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate general on a state license plate.
"I don't go around denouncing people. That's not going to happen," Barbour, who is considering a run for the White House in 2012, said when asked about the plate, the Associated Press reported. "I know there's not a chance it'll become law." The state NAACP has denounced the proposal from the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to honor Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who went on to become an early leader of the KKK.
Forrest , a Tennessee native, is revered by some as a military genius and despised by others for leading an 1864 massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tenn. Forrest was a Ku Klux Klan grand wizard in Tennessee after the war.
Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, ripped the planned license plate "absurd," blasted Forrest as a "racially divisive figure," and has called on Barbour to denounce the plan.
"I find it curious that the governor won't come out and clearly denounce the efforts of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to honor Nathan Bedford Forrest," he said Tuesday. "As the head of the state, he shouldn't tap dance around the question."
This is actually Barbour's MO whenever the issue of his coddling his state's racists comes up. When he pussyfooted around with the descendants of the WCC, the Council of Conservative Citizens, he again refused to make clear his disapproval of their racism. And when a number of Southern states, including Mississippi, held Confederacy commemorations without any mention of slavery, he ardently defended it.
I wonder how he'll do with the African American vote if he runs for president? I guess the saying that "a leopard can't change its spots" fits ol' Haley to a tee.