On Segregation: Governor Haley Barbour (Not That Bad) vs. Governor Mike Huckabee (Never, Never Again)



We Want White Tenants in Our White CommunityMississippi Governor Haley Barbour recently put his foot in his mouth as all potential presidential candidates do from time to time.  His gaffe, which shows up in a Weekly Standard feature article, consisted of two parts.   

The first part of the goof was concerning racial segregation where Barbour says “I just don’t remember it being that bad”.  The author of the story, Andrew Ferguson, gave his take on Barbour’s remark:

“I don’t think that he meant segregation wasn’t that bad. I think he meant that it didn’t roil the town the way some people might think it did.” He added: “I get the sense that [Barbour] himself was just kind of oblivious. He was a fun loving football player, probably chasing skirts and all that.”

Ferguson said he got a similar sense from others he spoke to in Yazoo City. “No one I talked to would defend segregation or anything like that — it just didn’t impinge on their consciousness the way it does ours in retrospect.”

I think moderate and conservative blacks are offended not by bad policy decisions but for white failure to see how bad it was in the Jim Crow days.   Some of us just don’t get it.  It ought to “impinge on our consciousnesses”.

Whites often don’t gain respect from blacks on the issue of race.  Whites mistakenly think they must hold liberal policy positions.  Liberals think they must talk down to them.   Admittedly liberals get by with racially dim-witted comments and pay no price: Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid are prime examples of the phenomenon.  White Democratic politicians are never going to get the scrutiny for these racially tinged comments, just as Bill Clinton could get away with obnoxious behavior with women and still get the NOW vote, gun control advocates like Carl Rowan can get away with recklessly shooting off handguns, and Al Gore still has a “green” following in spite of his own personal environmentally-hypocritical bad habits.

Sometimes self-inflicted wounds like Barbour’s can end a candidacy (remember “Macaca” and Virginia Senator George Allen?).  Sometimes they are just a blip on the radar screen. It remains to be seen how this might affect a Barbour candidacy.

The more infamous part of Barbour’s remarks was when he attributed racial healing to groups that were apparently formed to continue segregation, the (White) Citizen’s Councils.

Ferguson offered this weak explanation:

Barbour raised this point during a conversation about the history of Yazoo City in the civil rights era. Barbour told Ferguson that one of his aides was doing research (for reasons that are not clear) and had dug up an article from a local newspaper that described the local Citizens’ Council this way. That’s where Barbour picked up that talking point.

By the time these groups were in their heyday, Barbour was not 15, but at least 22 years old.  Are we to believe Barbour had no knowledge of the purpose of these groups by that time?  It is hard to believe that a Governor in the Deep South would have so little knowledge of his own town and memory of his state’s history to totally misread history this way.   We are not talking about “white guilt”, we are talking understanding and honesty.

Contrast this with Mike Huckabee. Steven Loeb has written an written an article entitled “Haley Barbour Should Take A Page From Mike Huckabee When It Comes To Talking About South’s Racist History.”

Loeb suggests

“Huckabee talks about race probably better than any other candidate in the ’08 elections….Huckabee is kind of the straight-shooting southern white man who can talk about racial history. The fact is, though, that when you looked at his policies, in the contemporary moment, they are not that dramatically different than that of Haley Barbour’s.

This is no new revelation about Huckabee, who got 48% of the black vote in his first campaign for governor of Arkansas in 1998 while most other Republican governors struggled to get 10% (Barbour got 6% of the black vote his last time out in 2007).  A large group of Black pastors endorsed Huckabee’s candidacy in 2008:

Huckabee’s willingness and eagerness to engage and interact with all voters has earned him the reciprocity of unprecedented public support from black voters for a Republican candidate over the past several decades.

At the 40th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock High School, Huckabee brought many to tears saying

“… and today, we call upon every church, every pulpit, every synagogue, every mosque in every part of Arkansas and the rest of the world to say never, never, never, never again will we be silent when people’s rights are at stake.”

Huckabee has also won kudos for entering a September, 2008 debate held at Morgan State University in Baltimore on racial issues that most other Republicans shunned, for integrating one of the early churches he pastored, and for quietly sitting with the Martin Luther King family at a Civil Rights commemoration held right before Super Tuesday, though he was not personally invited to speak.

Barbour’s apparent blindness on this issue doesn’t justify calling him a racist.  But perhaps its time for a little introspection. More importantly, we should take a closer at the ugly history of the culture we grew up in.

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  • http://www.givejonadollar.com/ Give Jon a Dollar

    There has to come a time when the racial divide ends. I think the ideas of Ron Paul could best lead to this. It is those who adhere so much to collectivist structures that fall into the race trap.

    If we look at people as individuals, rather than looking at them in groups, we stand a chance to break free from this paradigm. But even I admit we may be a long way off because the fires are constantly stoked.

    • Michael

      So you give credit Ron Paul for the idea that we should judge people as individuals when Martin Luther King said precisely the same thing in his I Have A Dream speech in 1963. Your choice is quite revealing.

    • Baltimatt

      I’ll give Gov. Huckabee credit for recognizing the ugliness that has occurred in our history. However, when he says “never, never, never, never again will we be silent when people’s rights are at stake,” while at the same time supporting a national marriage amendment barring same-sex couples from marrying, he shows his own blind spot.

      • David Shedlock

        Baltimatt,

        Welcome back to CT. There is no way to compare race with one’s sexual preferences. They are simply not the same. It is hardly fair to even compare the treatment the two groups have received. Do you know of any “straight only” water fountains? Can you even tell a straight person from a homosexual one by looking? So how is it that someone discriminates against this group?

      • Baltimatt

        Hi, David.

        Hope you had a nice Christmas.

        Not to compare the treatment the two groups have received. Nevertheless, a federal marriage amendment would presumably take away the right under some state constitutions for people to marry, regardless of gender.

      • David Shedlock

        Where do rights come from?

        Marriage seems to me to be a priviledge already. You must be a certain age. You must not be married already. It must not be entered into fraudulently. You must pay a fee. You must marry someone of the opposite gender. You must be married by an official (or at least think that they are an official, people married by someone pretending to be an official are still married if they honestly thought the official was “real”).

        It is open to all, otherwise. Marriage does not single out homosexuals for discrimination. They can marry anybody of the opposite gender (however unadvisedly), just as “straight” people can.

      • Baltimatt

        Our rights as a free people are inherently ours. (Was I supposed to answer “God” to that first question?)

        If you think marriage is a priviledge based on your criteria, then you may very well think voting is one, too. A voter must be a certain age, has to register, cannot generally be on the voting rolls in more than one locality, cannot vote more than once in an election, and can lose the “priviledge” upon conviction of certain crimes.

        As far as marriage, one does not have to marry someone of the opposite gender in Iowa and some other locals. People are free to choose their marriage partners regardless of their or their intended’s sex. Even “straight” people can marry a same-sex partner if they so choose. Now, that may seem ridiculous, but it is just as ridiculous to tell gay people they can only marry someone of the opposite gender.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1508885357 William R. James

        What makes homosexuals special in your view? Marriage has never been defined by rational people to include sexual perverts doing what they do as if it’s the same as a normal couple. It has traditionally included a male and multiple females. If we are going to include any others in the legal definition of marriage, it would be far for rational to include polygamists before getting around to homosexuals, necrophiles, pedophiles, and those attracted to farm animals.

      • David Shedlock

        Baltimatt,

        Welcome back to CT. There is no way to compare race with one’s sexual preferences. They are simply not the same. It is hardly fair to even compare the treatment the two groups have received. Do you know of any “straight only” water fountains? Can you even tell a straight person from a homosexual one by looking? So how is it that someone discriminates against this group?

    • Anonymous

      I find it funny when people talk about Ron Paul being good for racial relations given the very incendiary comments he made towards black people in his newsletters.he is really no different than all these other old southern white men.

  • guest

    There is a reason Huckabee got a lot of black votes in Arkansas, and the reasons are not pretty. It involved favor trading with black preachers…..and a lot of convicts getting out of prison early.

    • David Shedlock

      If you can prove that, let’s see the facts.

      • guest

        The facts are in the results. Look back at who he commuted sentences for, and why. There is overwhelming proof that black preachers lobbied to have certain black prisoners released early.

        And there are 4 dead cops in Washington, one dead woman in Missouri and another rape victim in Missouri that have Huckabee to thank for his “Christian compassion” toward convicts.

  • Baltimatt

    I’d like to know what share of the black vote Gov. Huckabee got in the 2002 election. That 48% in 1998 is impressive, but how well did he do four years later?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1508885357 William R. James

    While I hate to defend Barbour (he’s a typical crooked republicrat), I think people are missing a point he might have been poorly attempting to make. I the very few large cities of the time period, Jim Crowe had particularly noticable effects on only a fairly small portion of the black communities and nearly none of the white people. Outside the cities, where most people lived, very few saw any day to day impact on their lives from such laws even if the other social constructs were weighted against black citizens. The only places where white people even cared if blacks were voting were the areas where they had enough potential voters to make any difference. In Mississippi that was limited to a few areas of the delta. To people of all colors outside those areas, the segregation was simply a normal part of life and there was little at all ever seen to be enforcing it because it was just accepted and almost never challenged. And, while the opportunities of blacks were certainly more limited, daily life generally included an intact family and little crime. I don’t doubt that day to day life before integration was usually more pleasant for all races in Mississippi without all the problems we created in the last 50 years by creating a politically correct welfare class with broken families and drugs, etc. in a failed attempt to “equalize” everyone. The solutions chosen barely fixed a few problems but created far worse ones in the process.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KEZYDNPVSSR3D7ZJ46ZG5SNUGQ Nick Thomas

    Here is a fun fact: I am actually broadcasting live from Lakewood, Washington–within five miles from the Forza coffee shop in which an apparent sociopath, released from prison by Mike Huckabee, killed unsuspecting police officers. Not only that, but I was actually born in the great state of Mississippi and…(wait for it) I’m Black.

    Barbour’s brother was Mayor of Yazoo City in 1968. Said Jeppie Barbour during his tenure:

    “Maybe five years ago,” he said, “you could’ve appointed a colored man yourself. Now you simply can’t get away with it. They’re goin’ to have to pick their own leaders. You could’ve gotten on radio five years ago using these very words, ‘George Collins is this nigger we’ve appointed,’ and could’ve gotten away with it. I guess they’re just goin’ through a state of being rebellious and hard-nosed and not listenin’ to white people like they used to.”

    This is a time during which Governor Barbour was in his twenties. I suppose the argument can be made that folks in their twenties are not the most politically active (though, as I write this, I am 26), but as a current Governor of Miss, you should at least invest enough by way of retrospection to realize the reality of the city that your racist brother ran. That said, do I think Gov Barbour is racist? No. I just think it’s kind of sad that I know more about a state that left at the age of three than its current governor.

    Here is the thing: when conservatives rally against judicial activism and for states rights, we in the Black community have a tendency to get protective and vote for the nearest Democrat. The reason is because without key Supreme Court decisions, I would not be afforded opportunities of which I currently take advantage. States rights–and this cannot be refudiated (sic)–were _the_ justification for maintaining a segregated south. I put that on the table to say that if conservatives want to make inroads healing deep wounds, you all might want to start by swallowing the dog whistles.

    • David Shedlock

      Thanks for your very helpful comments.

      (I would ask that you track down and research the Mike Huckabe/Clemmons thing a little more closely. Huckabee didn’t release Clemmons, the parole board did. And Arkansas Governor Beebe, and the folks in Washington released several times more after he had committed many parole violations. Clemmons had originally had his sentence reduced because of the unjust sentence he had received.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KEZYDNPVSSR3D7ZJ46ZG5SNUGQ Nick Thomas

        You may be right about the Huckabee-Clemmons affair; as you can imagine, the local news over here was not too interested in being fair to Governor Huckabee.

        That said, I’m actually not upset at Huckabee. Clemmons was clearly deranged and probably should have spent the rest of his life in a straight jacket and a padded room. With mental hospitals closing across this country, it is fortunate that these incidents do not occur more often.