Haley Barbour Doubles Down

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

None of us are surprised to see this:


CROWLEY: The [Virginia] Governor didn't even mention slavery in his proclamation. Was that a mistake? 

 BARBOUR: Well, I don't think so...I don't know what you would say about slavery, but anyone who thinks that you have to explain to people that slavery is a bad thing -- I think it goes without saying.

Some of us will doubtlessly see in Barbour's machinations a kind of political savvy--but I suspect that there would have been arguments for "political savvy" even if Barbour had agreed with McConnell McDonnell. For my part, I find this to be stupid, in every sense.

The notion that slavery shouldn't be mentioned, because everyone knows its bad, but Robert E. Lee should be because, apparently, no one knows he was a great general, is, well, ignorant. But it's a naked emperor ignorant, an ignorant brandished by someone without the wits to know what they don't know, a kind of ignorance squared. And here is where you cross into plain stupid.

Increasingly we live in a country where the people who opposed the Negrofied Abraham Lincoln, who ran Ida B. Wells out of Tennessee, who excoriated the communist Martin Luther King, are proven wrong. Haley Barbour can get away with that sort of stupid--but only for today, and only in Mississippi. We are the future, not them.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/04/haley-barbour-doubles-down/38764/