It’s the 2nd anniversary of TWiB! Yayyy! Congrats Elon on a seminal, yet entertaining series.
This week, Elon takes on Gov. Haley Barbour’s wistful memories of how cool de-segregating the University of Mississippi was. Like all the students, black and white, at Ole Miss were totally steezy with it and it was only the old folks who were bent out of shape. Here’s how the Gov., who’s eyeing a possible presidential run against America’s first black president, remembers things back in the 1960s vs the then young black woman sitting next to him in class, Verna Bailey (from a McClatchy article):
He said she was “a very nice girl” who “happened to be an African-American, and, God bless her, she let me copy her notes the whole time. And since I was not prone to go to class every day, I considered it a great — it was a great thing, it was just — there was nothing to it. If she remembers it, I would be surprised. She was just another student. I was the student next to her.”
Bailey, reached by phone, reacted to Barbour’s story with surprise that bordered on confusion.
“I don’t remember him at all, no, because during that time that certainly wasn’t a pleasant experience for me,” she said. “My interactions with white people were very, very limited. Very, very few reached out at all.”
Bailey is now the principal of an elementary school in Beaverton, Ore. While she may have seemed like just another student to Barbour, history hasn’t viewed her that way. For her role in the civil rights movement, she was inducted into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame and has a scholarship named after her.
She’s sometimes asked to speak to groups about her experience. Her recollections are filled with details of pain, humiliation, isolation and courage.
Barbour’s misty memories don’t jibe with history. Not Verna Ann’s. And not what we know of the struggle of Medgar Evers and James Meredith to study at Ole Miss during Barbour’s time. The day Meredith showed up at school, it took several hundred U.S. Marshals to protect him. There were riots and you can see that plenty of young white students were present and accounted for — protesting in favor of an all-white Ole Miss. 2 white men died in the protests. A couple of black heroes and 35 U.S. Marshals got shot at. Mississippi was one of the most violent places in which whites tried to hold on to the past.
Barbour’s lying either to us OR to us and himself. He’d like to portray himself — or remember himself — as gracious, enlightened, tolerant. And thus able to criticize President Obama on a national stage without being painted as just another southern fried old bigot. Elon is more generous toward Barbour than I am. Here’s a newsclip that clearly shows how Ole Miss’ white students at that time reacted to de-segregation (hint: riots):
JFK had to call out the U.S. Army to quell the “Battle of Oxford.” Barbour’s game here is to portray the Republicans as more tolerant than Democrats. Historically that’s true — the Republican party was the party of Lincoln, after all. My own grandfather was a Republican — up until Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” of which Barbour was a key proponent. From the same McClatchy article:
Barbour’s a veteran political operative who worked on Richard Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign, which designed a Republican path to power known as the “Southern strategy.” As he recently began testing the presidential waters, Barbour, 62, has been contending that his generation of white, Southern Republicans has been characterized unfairly as anti-civil rights.
In an interview last month with the conservative magazine and website Human Events, Barbour said it was “my generation who went to integrated schools. I went to an integrated college, never thought twice about it.”
It was the old Democrats who clung to segregation, he said. “By my time people realized that was the past, that was indefensible, wasn’t going to be that way anymore.” He said that “the people who really changed the South from Democrat to Republican (were) a different generation from those who fought integration.”
Right…. interesting revisionist history. So contrary to what you may have heard, Republicans today are totally cool with black people, is that it? Here’s what Barbour recently said about Barack Obama vs the birthers (Sept 8):
Asked about the man he would likely run against in 2012, Barbour said he takes President Barack Obama at his word that he is a Christian and born in the United States, and that he did not know why such rumors have lingered for so long.
“I don’t know why people think what they think,” he said.
But he then offered this possible explanation: “This is a president that we know less about than any president in history.”
Right…. so despite a pretty complete autobiography called Dreams from My Father & one of the most transparent administrations ever, somehow we just don’t know enough about President Obama. Like whether he’s really a Kenyan socialist bent on the destruction of America and the imposition of Shari’a law. This smells like a sinister whitewash of some dirty, nasty, stankety-stank racist laundry to me. Well, good luck to you Haley in selling this bag of your dirty drawers. I’m not buying and these kinds of lies — to yourself, to Mississippi, to America — aren’t likely to instill much trust or faith in your ability to lead this nation.
Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell
Special Contributors: James Rucker, Rinku Sen, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Adam Luna, Kamala Harris
Technical Contributor: Brandon Sheats