Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

December 29, 2010

IT WAS 'THAT BAD'.... The controversy surrounding Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's (R) affinity for white supremacists in the 1950s and 1960s appears to have largely died down, though it's the kind of flap that's likely to leave a scar. What's more, there are also some additional revelations worth considering.

Initially, Barbour told the Weekly Standard that, looking back at the civil rights era in Mississippi when he was growing up, "I just don't remember it as being that bad." He went on to note that the local Citizens Council was responsible for keeping his community of Yazoo City free of violence. (Citizens Councils were known for touting "racial integrity" and fighting for segregation through economic coercion.)

Steve Mangold, who grew up with Barbour in Yazoo City in the 1950s and 1960s, spoke to Salon this week to help set the record straight. Barbour may not remember the era as "being that bad," but that's only because he wasn't paying attention.

In the Weekly Standard profile, Barbour marvelled at the fact that Yazoo City's schools were desegregated without violence, unlike in many other towns in Mississippi. But for Mangold, whose parents were both physicians in Yazoo City, another local institution is in the forefront of his memory of that era: the hospital.

Built in the mid 1950s with federal assistance, the Yazoo City hospital was, at the insistence of the local White Citizens Council, a whites-only facility, Mangold says. As a child, he had the nighttime assignment of answering the back door at his parents' home, where they had their medical practice (whites came to the front door, blacks to the back). He would often see black residents with grievous injuries requiring emergency care -- but they had nowhere to go.

"There was no hospital in town where blacks could go. They would have to go to Jackson 40 or 50 miles away and many died on the way," he says, adding that this state of affairs lasted for years.

Further, his parents became pariahs in town and their business was damaged because they had resisted the White Citizens Council petition that the hospital be whites-only.

"Threatening phone calls, dead cats on the lawn and other acts of intimidation combined to run my father out of town for two years," Mangold wrote in his letter to the Clarion-Ledger.

Mangold added that Barbour "grew up and everything was hunky-dory because he wasn't involved with any of this."

And that seems to be one of the persistent themes when it comes to Barbour. There are examples of him being flagrantly racist, but there are even more examples of him being strikingly oblivious.

After all, Barbour has said he "never thought twice" about racial integration. But therein lies the point -- he never thought about it because he attended all-white, segregated schools, and never troubled himself to consider the plight of black families in his area.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

Bookmark and Share

Barbour is a typical racist rethug - with the emphasis on thug!

Posted by: joan on December 29, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

It doesn't take a genius to make the connection, still, worth making it:

"Built in the mid 1950s with federal assistance, the Yazoo City hospital was, at the insistence of the local White Citizens Council, a whites-only facility"

This, in a nutshell, is why our right-wing wants to destroy any meaningful health-care reform. Because then they might have to share a doctor's office with brown people.

This is why our crypto-fascist right can get people voting for them to destroy HCR: those voters do not want to share facilities with the brown people.

If only we could get THAT meme out there into the our corporate-owned mass-media. But, of course, that'll never happen.

Posted by: LL on December 29, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

He never had a chance to progress in the upcoming presidential primaries, but I hope his stink stays with the Republicans...and I think it will.

Posted by: SaintZak on December 29, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not exactly surprised to hear Mangold's story. Anyone who supposes that it really wasn't all that bad in Yazoo City is some part of blind, deaf, and dumb. Folks, it was that bad.

I'll even suppose, for the sake of argument, that Barbour wasn't trying to dogwhistle the racists. It's still not forgivable.

Posted by: MattF on December 29, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

In 1960 I had one of the most important aha! moments of my life. My middle school history teacher said to our New Jersey class, "Do you think it's an accident that there are no black people (actually he said "Negro") in this town? Then he told us why. I never looked at the world in quite the same way again. Too bad Barbour was surrounded by the complacent and the racist instead of someone who challenged him to look at the world in a different way. That teacher's name was Herbert Buehler and I've never forgotten him.

Posted by: ceilidth on December 29, 2010 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's not so much that young Barbour was unaware of this aspect Mississippi's history, but that he still hasn't learned anything.

Posted by: Zachriel on December 29, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

That he never thought twice is absolutely not surprising. Who thinks twice about how good they have it unless someone forces them to?

That said, it reminds me of all of the Confederates down here insisting the Civil War was not about slavery because their great-great-grandfather fought in the war and he never owned slaves.

Posted by: martin on December 29, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

It is all a part of the larger spin. "The South was simply fight for its rights. We would have gotten away with it too if it hadn't been for that meddling John Brown and those kids who died in waves defending human rights."

This kind of crap needs to be renounced early and often in any media conversation. It is dangerous because scapegoating is so effective at controlling the message and redirecting otherwise righteous hostility.

Posted by: Sparko on December 29, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

A week before my first birthday, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Like Haley Barbour ,I just don't remember it as all that bad. . .

Posted by: DAY on December 29, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps this will continue the conversation about race that our president started when all of the people besides Haley Barbour who thought it was not so bad complained about Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

I grew up in Atlanta, which has been more than 50% black since before the Civil War. It was bad for blacks in Atlanta in the 60s, and even later. Anyone who thinks otherwise was not paying attention.

Posted by: withay on December 29, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Barbour is definitely a piece of work, utterly corrupt, in service to the highest bidder, without conscience, and without shame.

in 2004 when his governorship was at its beginning, he made the deepest cuts in Medicaid ever seen anywhere in these United States. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 70,000 Mississippi citizens were cut off from any kind of medical care. Bill Moyers (and only Bill Moyers), covered it here

Read it and weep.

In its eternal affection for "Haley," our media masters manage to overlook his personal corruption, (Haley was laundering money for the Republicans in the nineties, well ahead of Tom DeLay), his notion of governance as being only for the wealthy, (soon Mississippi will be as much a libertarian paradise as Haiti is), and to this day insist that he was effective post-Katrina, when, in fact, he serviced first and foremos and almost exclusively, the moneyed interests in his state.

Posted by: Leah on December 29, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

This is why Lincoln and Johnson made a mistake in forgiving the traitors who started a war against the United States 150 years ago. Had Lee, Jeff Davis and a few dozen other leaders of the Confederacy been executed for their crimes, we might have seen far less effort to justify the South's crimes both during and after the war.

Of course the racists of the rest of the country who supported or tolerated Jim Crow are also traitors to our country. Woodrow Wilson comes quickly to mind.

Posted by: freelunch on December 29, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Not only that WHaley Blubbour is very expensive to transport around


Posted by: Kill Bill on December 29, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

For us white males growing up in Mississippi in the 1950's, there was nothing bad about it. The blacks knew their place and they got out of it we would whip or kill them.

Back in the 1950's, blacks knew better than to live in white houses. It's a shame that we can't go back to the 'good old days'.

Posted by: MississippiPointOfView on December 29, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad the mostly white republicans in the South seem to get away with rewriting history of the pre-civil rights era. For people who were not white there were 2 conditions: bad and worse. I think a lot of the Obama Derangement Syndrome comes from white people remembering when African Americans could not vote, much less run for office. Anybody who wasn't a white male in the "good old days" was a second class citizen (at best) in the South. I know, I was there, I'm a sixty year old white male in South Carolina.

Posted by: MuddyLee on December 29, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Yazoo City is 90% Black and is in a "Micropolitan area" that's about 50/50 by race. In other words, it was too small and too divided for him not to notice. Like a good lobbyist, he's basically a bullshitter.

Posted by: Rich on December 29, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Haley Barbour is to segregation as Pat Buchanan is to the Holocaust. They both think it wasn't 'that bad' because to admit how bad it was calls their whole life philosophy into question.

When I hear someone claim slavery wasn't all that bad, I know I'm talking to someone desperately trying to find a way to justify evil in order to protect an indefensible idea.

Posted by: Seould on December 29, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bullshitter is exact, he knows exactly what and how it went on, and participated quite fully, but as a republican, he can lie till his balls turn blue, and every word will be believed by republicans because quite a few are as dumb as Barbour.

Posted by: Michael on December 29, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly