Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour clarifies remarks about segregation

Sure, we proved in 2008 that America was pretty much ready for a black president, but are we ready for a possibly racially insensitive one?

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a Republican, commented Monday in a profile in the Weekly Standard that the years leading up to desegregation in the South weren’t “that bad.” Surprisingly, some of the people who lived through the less savory parts of the pre-civil rights era in the US and or have access to Wikipedia did not find Barbour’s remarks to be indicative of presidential material.

Barbour’s office immediately issued a lengthy statement to provide context for the remarks:

“When asked why my home town in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns’ integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn’t tolerate it and helped prevent violence there,” Barbour said in a statement Tuesday.

“My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the ‘Citizens Council,’ is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time.”

The Washington Post notes that while Barbour’s remarks might not help, the public isn’t nearly as fixated on politics right now as it is on Christmas shopping. However, the comment does, if anything, display a bit of tone-deafness about the very racial struggle he lived through.

Do you think Barbour’s musings are “that bad,” or understandable in context?

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