In Brief: Haley Barbour: "No, We're Really Just Stupid Fucking Rednecks":
Every time someone wants to elevate the South, to say that it's finally learned to grapple with its past and come to terms with it, as when, say, Virginia and North Carolina went for Obama in 2008, another leader comes along to say, in essence, "That was a nice moment. But, please, remember, we're really stupid fucking racist rednecks."
This week, that duty went to Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a man who talks like Foghorn Leghorn with a mouth full of balls. On CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley (tagline: "Can you fucking believe we finally gave Candy Crowley a show?"), Barbour said of the recent kerfuffle over Virginia's governor declaring April "Remember the Losers" month (or "Confederate History Month") without mentioning slavery in the initial proclamation, "I don't know what you would say about slavery, but anybody that thinks that you have to explain to people that slavery is a bad thing, I think that goes without saying...To me, it's a sort of feeling that it's a nit, that it is not significant, that it's not a -- it's trying to make a big deal out of something doesn't amount to diddly." That last part wasn't about slavery, per se, but about the outrage over the lack of mention of slavery.
Barbour gave some historical background to the South's continuing glorification of the Confederacy: "My state legislature has made a legislatively enacted holiday, Confederate Memorial Day, and done it for years under Republican governors, Democratic governors. And for seven years as governor, I have issued a proclamation because of what the legislature has done. My Democratic predecessors did so as well [as did the Democratic legislatures]...I'm unaware of them being criticized for it or them having their supporters feel uncomfortable with it."
Do we even need to say why most of their supporters are perfectly comfortable with Confederate Memorial Day? Do we even need to say why dissenters in Mississippi might stay silent?
By the way, last year's charming proclamation of Confederate Memorial Day, right towards the end of Confederate History and Heritage Month, read, "[T]he month of April...shall be set aside to honor, observe, and celebrate the Confederate States of America, its history, those who served in its armed forces and government, and all those millions of its citizens of various races and ethnic groups and religions who contributed in sundry and myriad ways to the cause which they held so dear from its founding on February 4, 1861, in Montgomery, Alabama, until the Confederate ship CSS Shenandoah sailed into Liverpool Harbor and surrendered to British authorities on November 6, 1865." One can assume that the slaves didn't exactly hold the cause "dear." But then again, it's only about "citizens."
Doing anything remotely related to the Confederacy without mentioning slavery is like having a funeral for someone you know is alive. You can pretend as much as you want. That won't make the living any more dead.