Thursday on The Rachel Maddow Show, Washington Post columnistEugene Robinson, although still his genial self, asked Rachel for permission to "rant a little bit." Go below the fold to see what pissed Gene off so much. You know you want to.
Eugene's irritation springs from the efforts by the GOP to whitewash(so to speak...maybe I should say "colorwash") its troubled history, in regards to the civil-rights era and subsequent attempts to "scare white people' into the militarist arms of the GOP.
It's happened before. Consider the outbreak of denial among conservatives about the causes and effects of The Southern Strategy. The article I've cited calls the Southern Strategy a "myth" designed to "demonize" white Southerners for their commitment to family values and overt expressions of patriotism. I would have read more, but my digestion is already delicate.
This time, however, the speaker in question was none other than Haley Barbour, president of the Republican Governors' Association, and one of a small army of "credible" GOP contenders for the White House in 2012. Nor is Mr Barbour, born in 1947, too young to remember the worst excesses of segregated life. But as Rachel and Gene talk about in the segment, Barbour claims he went to "integrated college" and never thought twice about it, which is real news to Robinson, born black in the South in 1955.
Gene's hometown, Orangeburg S.C., was famously the site of a clash betweenstudent demonstrators and police over segregation in a local bowling alley,in the mid-sixties so of course he finds Barbour's "it was all over with for us" tone ludicrous.
I don't mean to suggest that Barbour is some kind of Grand Wizard. Privilege exists mostly because its recipients don't examine the assumptions that lead to it and most people don't like to upset their apple carts, especially when they get most of the apples.(Robert Byrd did it. Lyndon Johnson definitely did it, and our subsequent society remains forever in their debt.) It could be that Barbour was just some lazy shallow frat boy who enjoyed having people to take shit out on(but we would never elect someone like that, right?) but the fact that he is willing to lie and insult our collective intelligence this much two years out should even give those I'm-not-a-racist-but "suburban white independents" pause.