Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who may seek the Republican nomination for president, is trying to sell the biggest load of revisionist nonsense about race, politics and the South that I’ve ever heard. Ever.
He has the gall to try to portray Southern Republicans as having been enlightened supporters of the civil rights movement all along. I can’t decide whether this exercise in rewriting history should be described as cynical or sinister. Whichever it is, the record has to be set straight.
In a recent interview with Human Events, a conservative magazine and Web site, Barbour gave his version of how the South, once a Democratic stronghold, became a Republican bastion. The 62-year-old Barbour claimed that it was “my generation” that led the switch: “my generation, who went to integrated schools. I went to integrated college — never thought twice about it.” The “old Democrats” fought integration tooth and nail, Barbour said, but “by my time, people realized that was the past, it was indefensible, it wasn’t gonna be that way anymore. And so the people who really changed the South from Democrat to Republican was a different generation from those who fought integration.”