Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ole Haley gets criticized down home

Good editorial from Donna Ladd of the Jackson [MS] Free Press on ole Haley and the "uptown Klan", aka, the White Citizens Council, the Coucil of Conservative Citizens: Of Barbour and the 'Uptown Klan' 12/22/2010. (h/t Bob McElvaine)

As a Neshoba Countian who watched my town and state wrecked by our slavery and Jim Crow legacies, I take Barbour's whitewashing of our history personally. No, let me be even plainer: I think it is shameful and sinful for a politician or strategist to treat white Mississippians as if we haven't changed, and then expect us to respond by giving them everything they want (to benefit their corporate donors).

The southern strategy plays right to the heart of the kind of backward bigotry generations of white Mississippians were taught from the cradle to justify our state's horrifying mistreatment of black people. Even the less prejudiced among us grew up amid a culture of fear of black crime, even as white people were committing the most heinous ones against African Americans--often with a crowd cheering them on. We were taught horrible things about blacks to dehumanize them, often by people whose parents just handed down prejudice without thinking about it. And so on.

Thus, to watch someone like Barbour--an educated man--stand up and play us against each other to build a voting base for corporate America turns my stomach. And to listen to him try to make our history sound like it wasn't as bad as it was infuriates me, especially since it is so important for Mississippians to know how bad it was to fully appreciate how far we've already come in a few decades. Knowing and understanding that remarkable progress is what will give us the strength and will to keep going, to rebuild what the white supremacists Barbour loves to defend tore apart, to build diverse alliances for progress. [my emphasis]
Plus, he often says "Missippi" instead of "Mississippi". My long-departed mother thought that was something close to sacrilege, especially coming from a Mississippi public official.

I encourage everyone to read the whole thing. This is why I get so irritated when I see someone like Bob Somerby scolding liberals for Yankee condescension whenever they say anything at all to criticize white racism. Here's a nice (apparently native) Mississippi white lady talking like normal Mississippians who aren't sympathetic to white racists talk. Yankees just tend to be way too polite about such things.

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