Not for the first time and probably not for the last, Haley Barbour just demonstrated that he doesn’t know how to address racially sensitive subjects in a way that will resonate with anyone other than (some) white Southerners.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Mississippi’s Republican governor — who is now clearly pursuing the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — was asked about a proposal from the state’s chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to issue a license plate commemorating Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate general who went on to serve as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. As we noted last week when the proposal first made news, there was a good chance Barbour would be able to duck this particular issue, since the plan had yet to even be introduced as a formal piece of legislation. And yet:
Mississippi NAACP president Derrick Johnson said it’s “absurd” to honor a “racially divisive figure” such as Forrest. Johnson has also called on Barbour to denounce the license plate idea.
Asked about the NAACP’s stance Tuesday, Barbour replied: “I don’t go around denouncing people. That’s not going to happen. I don’t even denounce the news media…”
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