Is Haley Barbour Lying … Again?

Splattered all over the front page of Memeorandum, Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, chair of the Republican Governors and former Chair (Under Dubya) of the Republican National Committee is in trouble for another bit of revisionist Southern history. Matt Yglesias at ThinkProgress:

Haley Barbour’s Affection for the White Supremacist Citizens’ Council

Andrew Ferguson’s profile of Haley Barbour reveals that the guy is dangerously ignorant about the history of race in his state:

Both Mr. Mott and Mr. Kelly had told me that Yazoo City was perhaps the only municipality in Mississippi that managed to integrate the schools without violence. I asked Haley Barbour why he thought that was so.

“Because the business community wouldn’t stand for it,” he said. “You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

In interviews Barbour doesn’t have much to say about growing up in the midst of the civil rights revolution. “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” he said. “I remember Martin Luther King came to town, in ’62. He spoke out at the old fairground and it was full of people, black and white.”

Fortunately, it’s actually possible to look at the archives of the Citizens Councilnewspaper published right in Mississippi. Here’s a selection: [more]

But I covered this over eight months ago, and THEN, Haley Barbour claimed to have no knowledge of WHO the “Citizen’s Councils” were:

From “” which appeared in The Democratic Daily on April 13, the 145th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Assassination:

NOT a story by Robert E. Howard, unfortunately, but a real live narrative that came to light yesterday when Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, former Chair of the RNC and former constituent of Sen. Trent Lott, (R, Miss.) decided to trivialize the national outrage over Virginia Governor Johnny T. Secesh’s proclamation of “Confederate History Month” minus any reference to slavery.

Haley Barbour’s comment was [emphasis added]:

“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 (that) doesn’t amount to diddly,” Barbour said in the interview aired on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Well, if you get inside Haley Barbour’s head about what “doesn’t mean diddly” you can understand why he might feel that way. On the other hand, if  you obtain that understanding, you can also understand why Barbour represents the worst — and ruling — passions of the current KKK, er … CCC … er, GOP/Tea Party.

Citizens Against Hate posted this quietly damning piece in 2004 [emphasisadded]:

Governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour – spoke before a Council [of Conservative Citizens]-sponsored political rally last year and was photographed with Council leaders. He later claimed that he knew nothing about the Council of Conservative Citizens. We really find that hard to believe since he was the Republican National Committee Chairman when Trent Lott was embroiled in the controversy over the group. According to his biography:

Haley is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and founder of Barbour Griffith & Rogers, which Fortune magazine named the top lobbying firm in the United States.

Haley served as an advisor to President Ronald Reagan for two years as Director of the White House Office of Political Affairs.

Haley served two terms as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

In 2000 Haley chaired the Bush for President Campaign Advisory Committee in Washington, D.C. He was one of ten members of Governor Bush’s National Presidential Exploratory Committee in 1999.

We agree with Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center who is quoted as saying, “It’s almost impossible for a politician and particularly a Republican to not know about the Council of Conservative Citizens scandal because of what the head of their own party said. I can’t say what’s in each of these politicians’ heads, but I think some politicians are simply pandering to white supremacists for political support.”

Obviously, Governor Haley Barbour knew better. Obviously, Governor Haley Barbour has the contacts and the clout to make a major impact on the current governmental officials.

And, of course, what is spooky in all of this is the continual refrain — laughable at best, monstrous at worst — of  ”I didn’t know.” [MORE]

But, of course, facts and truth always seem to get lost in the narrative. If Haley Barbour didn’t know who the CofCC was, then how come he’s suddenly defending them in the pages of the Weekly Standard?

I’ve tracked them at length, and summarized about a decade’s worth of investigation in early April of 2010:

The last two particularly concern us, here. Here’s a little something about Charlton Heston and CofCC (from ‘‘):

Well, you might recall that when George Allen was governor of Virginia, he started this whole ball of snakes rolling down the hill, by issuing the FIRST “Confederate Heritage Month” proclamation. From the linked article in The Nation:

Days after Allen’s proclamation, the S[ons] of C[onfederate] V[eterans] celebrated at the US Capitol. The featured speaker was Richard T. Hines, an influential Republican lobbyist and neo-Confederate financier who, a year earlier, had protested the erection of a memorial to black tennis star Arthur Ashe in downtown Richmond, Virginia as “an attempt to debunk our heritage.” The NAACP condemned Allen’s SCV-inspired proclamation, while Confederate Memorial Association President John Edward Hurley called the SCV’s celebration at the Capitol one of “the worst capitulations to white supremacy” since the Ku Klux Klan marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1920.

And it includes this picture:

and here’s the caption:

This photo, published in the Summer 1996 edition of the Citizens Informer, the newsletter of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, shows George Allen, left, and actor Charlton Heston*, right, posing with [C of CC  founder] Gordon Lee Baum and two associates [Citizens Informer editor Fred C. Jennings and C of CC national President Tom Dover].

And, remember, George Allen’s candidacy collapsed in 2006 when he tried to get a little too ‘cute’ with racist code-speak, calling an opposition researcher a ‘macaca’ which led to the revelation that it was simply another (foreign) version of the “N-word.”

[* Two years later, in 1998, Heston would become spokesman and President of the National Rifle Association until stepping down in 2003 due to Alzheimer’s.]

The Nation article continues:

At the height of Allen’s governorship, in Spring 1995, the CCC’s Citizens Informer praised him: “Residents of the Old Dominion are rejoicing.” But the CCC’s invisible support became a potentially controversial matter after a 1998 Washington Post article by Thomas Edsall disclosed the CCC’s links to Bob Barr. CPAC head David Keene ousted them from his conference, bluntly telling the Post of his sudden discovery: “They are racists.”

Baum, for his part, maintains that Keene and CPAC’s attendees were well aware of his group’s racial views. “David Keene, he knew who we were,” Baum told me. “I mean, you have Confederate flags on each side of your booth–like, duh. But after the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan, he didn’t want us there.” (Baum said he “finagled” tickets for the 2006 CPAC convention and promoted the CCC from behind the National Rifle Association’s booth.)

And the C of CC’s founder, Gordon Lee Baum?

Gordon Lee Baum is the current director of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a conservative organization that succeeded the White Citizens Council. […] In 2003, Baum was listed as one of the most prominent white supremacists in the United States by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

– Wikipedia

iv. Southern Heritage – the punch line

You may wonder what all this has to do with last week’s brouhaha. Well, while we were arguing whether slavery was the issue of the Civil War, and, of course, whether it was ‘significant,’ and how much apologizing was enough apologizing, etc. another,  far more ominous issue was being utterly ignored….

There’s plenty there, and, hopefully it will get more airplay than mere parsing of Haley Barbour’s latest dodge about his Southern roots and alliances.

Contemporaneous parody poster

Then again ….


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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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