Gov. Haley Barbour Praises White Supremacist Group

The meltdown of the Republican Party into a stinky puddle of racist goo is accelerating. In an interview with the Weekly Standard, Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) actually praised the civil rights era white supremacist group known as the “White Citizens’ Council.”

As Barbour recalls it in a new profile in The Weekly Standard, things weren’t so bad in his hometown of Yazoo City, which took until 1970 to integrate its schools (though the final event itself is said to have gone on peacefully). For example, Barbour says that there was no problem of Ku Klux Klan activity in the town — thanks to the Citizens Council movement, an organization that was founded on the basis of resistance to integration and the promotion of white supremacy.

“You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK,” said Barbour. “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.”

Unbelievable. And this guy is considered one of the possible GOP presidential nominees in 2012. I’d like to think this will put an end to that aspiration, but in the current deranged version of the GOP I strongly suspect this won’t harm his chances one bit; on the contrary, it may actually make him more popular.

An interesting/appalling note: the White Citizens’ Council eventually mutated into its current incarnation, the Council of Conservative Citizens, without losing any of their virulent racism. And in her book, Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America, another right wing hero, Ann Coulter, defended the Council of Conservative Citizens and claimed there was no obvious evidence of racism on their website.

Google the CCC website and see for yourself. But make sure you have an airsick bag handy.

UPDATE at 12/20/10 11:13:51 am:

A weird post from Dave Weigel, defending Barbour: Haley Barbour and the Citizens Councils.

Barbour is not dumb. If he’s being a revisionist about race in Mississippi, he’s not alone, and he’s fighting back against a media standard that all conservatives hate — this idea that Southerners and conservatives can never stop atoning for Jim Crow. Why should he have to apologize for this, after all? He wasn’t in a Citizens Council.

Barbour was speaking to a writer for the Weekly Standard, hardly the kind of person who would ask him to “atone for Jim Crow.” And in fact, Barbour wasn’t even asked about the Citizens’ Councils; he volunteered his defense of one of the most overtly racist organizations that has ever existed in the United States, all on his own, right in the middle of an extremely sympathetic interview.

With the exception of some people, like Howell Raines — who covered Barbour’s 1986 Senate bid — how many of these reporters know what they’re talking about, anyway?

Again, he was talking to the Weekly Standard, not The Nation.

And there are few things conservative voters hate more than being told they were on the wrong side of the Civil Rights movement.

I’m sure it isn’t pleasant for them to be reminded of it, but conservative voters could have avoided being told they were on the wrong side of the civil rights movement by not being on the wrong side of the civil rights movement.

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