Haley Barbour Explains He Wasn't Praising Racist Group

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. i i

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Manuel Balce Ceneta/ASSOCIATED PRESS hide caption

itoggle caption Manuel Balce Ceneta/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, thought to be interested in a run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, has issued a statement explaining that those who think he meant to say nice things about a racist organization of the Civil Rights-era have it all wrong.

It should go without saying that when a politician has to explain that he wasn't praising a racist group when in the eyes of many he seemed to be doing just that, he's got a problem that will take more than a brief statement to solve.

Anyway, here's Barbour's statement:

GOV. BARBOUR’S STATEMENT REGARDING WEEKLY STANDARD ARTICLE

“When asked why my hometown 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. 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.”

Now that he's got his explanation out there, might there be a racial redemption appearance on a black media outlet be far behind?

That's what his fellow Mississippian Trent Lott did; he went on BET after he landed in trouble for seemingly praising Strom Thurmond's segregationist legacy. Of course, if didn't really save Lott's political career.

In a way, it may be good for Barbour that the controversy happened since it gives him a chance to express some empathy for blacks. That aspect of his thinking was totally missing from the Weekly Standard article.

In the article we learned a lot more about Barbour's compassion for lobbyists, a group he has been a part of, than his view of African Americans who at last count were about 38 percent of his state, the highest percentage in the nation.

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