Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

End of the Southern Strategy?

Posted in African Americans, Leadership, Memory by Andy Hall on March 29, 2011

Politico has the story:

Haley Barbour, the Mississippi governor and likely 2012 Republican presidential aspirant, has recently made a series of missteps involving race and the Civil Rights Movement. He seemed unclear about basic historical points.

But he has now made a forthright declaration about the events swirling around what some Southerners still call the War of Northern Aggression. “Slavery was the primary, central, cause of secession,” Barbour told me Friday. “The Civil War was necessary to bring about the abolition of slavery,” he continued. “Abolishing slavery was morally imperative and necessary, and it’s regrettable that it took the Civil War to do it. But it did.”

Now, saying slavery was the cause of the South’s Lost Cause hardly qualifies as breaking news — it sounds more like “olds.” But for a Republican governor of Mississippi to say what most Americans consider obvious truth is news. Big news.

Given that Barbour has managed over the last few months to step directly from cow pie to cow pie on the issue of the South and race, it’s interesting to see him make a statement that is both explicit and succinct, and seemingly not open to nuance or backpedaling. I don’t think this statement will help him much on the national scene, but we’ll see. He’s already catching hell from in some quarters over his statement that he’d veto a license plate honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest; this won’t help.

Update: That didn’t take long. The League of the South has branded Barbour a “quisling” for this statement, which it further described as “despicable.”