Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Howard Kurtz is really wrong about Haley Barbour

At the Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz seems to think that the blowup about Haley Barbour's comments about the Concerned Citizens Councils represents unwarranted digging into Barbour's attitudes from 1962, saying the brouhaha is the press getting "worked into a lather over what Barbour did and thought when he was a teenager."

When you contemplate running for president, your life becomes an open book. Barbour should certainly be held accountable for the insensitive way he talked about the bad old days of officially sanctioned racial prejudice. His statement today is an acknowledgement of how badly he bobbled the question. But at some point you have to ask: Shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations on this stuff?

But nobody's getting mad at Barbour for being a Mississippian in 1962. They're getting mad at his contemporary adult understanding and presentation of what that era was like. He suggested in December 2010 -- despite decades of historical research based on accounts of the time -- that the CCCs were benign community groups when, in reallity, they were working in the service of white supremacy. I don't blame Barbour for his youth. I do blame him for whitewashing racism as an adult. The statute of limitations has barely even started on that stuff. 


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