Let’s start with this bulky excerpt from a Weekly Standard profile of Haley Barbour, discussing his beloved childhood home of Yazoo City, Mississippi:

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.”

If you missed the reference, the White Citizens Councils (until 1956) didn’t enjoy the best press, back in the day. Back in this day, mentioning them set off a few red flags:

“Re Barbour’s ‘not that bad’ comment: He’s not ready for prime time or not ready for the 21st century – either way it’s disqualifying,” [DNC spokesman Haru] Sevugan posted on his Twitter account.

Which prompted this response from Haley’s spokesbot:

“You’re trying to paint the governor as a racist,” he said. “And nothing could be further from the truth.”

We’re just going to step back from the keyboard and not get involved with this one. At least until we hear a few more voices from Yazoo City who don’t sound like Good Ol’ Boys.


Entitled White assholes need a new dog whistle.

@ManchuCandidate: For all I know — and I really don’t — Haley may be right about his hometown history. Or he may think he’s right, yet be unaware of alternative perspectives. I’m sure he’ll understand if I’m not quite prepared to take his word for it.

Oregon in general, and Eugene in particular, has some Klan history — from the 1920s. By the 1960s, it was something you had to learn about. By accident.

I initially read the ninth word in this tweet as “face-sitters” and thought it was an argument for missionary.

@nojo: I’ve been to Yazoo City (don’t ask) and it’s just as freakishly and awkwardly uncomfortable in terms of race relations as the rest of that state. Haley is talking out his fat ass to say that it was a land of mellow integration. I’ve spent waaaaaay too much time in Mississippi (don’t ask). Yazoo City (city is generous) is where I heard a white girl say at the Sprawl-Mart “Oh, he’s maaaah favorite niggah, I love him” about the black guy walking across the parking lot wearing a high school football jersey….but the Mississippians live in this fucking denial where somehow saying shit like that means all the races are kumbaya. Until god forbid that black football player asks out the white girl, or you know, a lesbian tries to go to the prom, then they’re about to grab a rope. Sadly I felt that a lot of the blacks I met there were suffering from amnesia or Stockholm Syndrome. I need to reread Faulkner.

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