April 12th, 2010
12:07 PM ET
12 years ago

DNC: Barbour 'defended the indefensible'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/11/art.barbouriso0411.cnn.jpg caption=" Gov. Haley Barbour's comments 'portrayed a Republican mindset that is not only out of touch with this century, but the last one as well,' a spokesman for the DNC said Sunday."]
Washington (CNN) – With the nation’s first African-American president occupying the Oval Office, the South’s Confederate history is ensnaring a second Republican governor in as many weeks in a controversy over how the nation ought to remember the institution of slavery.

Trying to defend a fellow Southern Republican governor, Mississippi’s Haley Barbour drew fire from the Democratic National Committee, which issued a statement Sunday after an interview with Barbour aired on CNN’s State of the Union.

Earlier: Concern of slavery omission 'doesn't amount to diddly,' says Barbour

“I don’t know what you would say about slavery,” Barbour told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, “but anybody who thinks that slavery is a bad thing – I think goes without saying.”

Barbour was explaining his belief that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell had not made a mistake in omitting any mention of slavery from a recent proclamation declaring April Confederate History Month in his state.

Responding to allegations that McDonnell’s omission was insensitive, Barbour said, “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 doesn't amount to diddly.”

The DNC slammed Barbour for the remarks.

"Governor Barbour defended the indefensible this morning and in doing so portrayed a Republican mindset that is not only out of touch with this century, but the last one as well,” DNC national press secretary Hari Sevugan said in a written statement. “To say that the systematic condemnation of millions to bondage and generation upon generation to servitude is ‘not significant,’ or that the tearing apart of families and the selling of human beings as cattle ‘doesn't amount to diddly’ is outrageous for any public official to say, let alone a man Republicans have placed in a position of leadership.”

Sevugan added, “These comments are unacceptable and should be universally condemned in the strongest terms. A failure to do so will send a strong message to all Americans that Republicans endorse Governor Barbour's sentiments and are content not only to be left behind in another century, but that they deserve to be a small regional party in the permanent minority “

Last week, McDonnell announced that he was amending his proclamation to refer to slavery and call it “an evil and inhumane practice.”

Related: McDonnell apologizes for initial proclamation

"The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed," McDonnell said last week.

Filed under: DNC • GOP • Haley Barbour • State of the Union
soundoff (310 Responses)
  1. John-Concerned American

    April 12th, 2010 7:17 am ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    CNN and all the people who responded negatively to Haley Barbour's comment are out of touch with todays world. They are more concerned about the past that they do not understand and most likely have never read the history of Salvery in the United States that started over 200 years ago.

    There is "Slavery" happening right now, "TODAY", in Africa, the Mid-East, Asia and a few examples in the Northern and Western United States and not one of the so called well read individuals that wrote this article or commented negatively raised a voice to condem this practice that is happening right now! The biggest offenders of this practice "Today" is the "Muslim World" and one of those is Saudi Arabia where the United States gets some of it's oil.

    I have seen and heard only one African American raise a voice against this practice and none of these so called well read individuals that wrote or sent negative comments made one comment about what is happen "Now".

    Here is are three questions for all of you well read so called well read individuals! If you are condeming the South for its transgrations, why did approximately eighty (80%) percent of those in the South that did not own Slaves, fight for the South? Why did these same so called well read individuals not condem the North and in particular the New England States for capturing the Africans and then transporting the Slaves from Africa to the United States in their ships and then selling them for a profit? Why did these same so called well read individuals not condem the Tribal Leaders, Kings, Queens, etc. in Africa that took their brethern and put them into Slavery?

    National Geographic had a good article a couple of years ago where they went into Africa and ask the decendents of those Tribal Leaders, Kings and Queens why they sold their brethern into Slavery. Go read it and maybe you well read "Idiots" will start focusing on what is happening today instead of the past.

    April 12, 2010 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  2. rdepontb

    What a creepy guy. What a stupid thing to say-why did he get into this at all? What a jerk!

    Not only did Barbour try to sweep slavery under the rug with his outlandish comments-he did it with a wry smile that said:

    "All Southerners know what I'm talking about-that uppity White House crowd has really overstepped their place in society, and we're really spittin' mad and this proclamation in Virginia is our reminder that our white robes are still within reach-so be careful. Is all I'm sayin'. Now git back.

    April 12, 2010 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  3. James

    Get over it it's over and done with and no one owes you anything for it and just because your black doesn't mean your ancestors were slaves, know your family history.

    April 12, 2010 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  4. Luke

    The Dems have found another drum to beat. Now ain't that just too cool ? Slavery is done and over with, years ago, let it rest. Those that wish to remember it are free to do so. But something that was done away with almost 150 years ago, is not foremost on the average persons mind. Put it in the past, where it is, and give it a rest.

    April 12, 2010 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  5. fred

    It's still going on as the Capitalist machine still turns the world over to find cheap/free labor ... that's the history of this country's founding. And it's alive and well today in every piece of cheap Asian-made crap we get at Walmart, Target and Home Depot ... even the American flag flying from my porch was made in China. Some like Barbour are just a little too okay with that arrangement.

    April 12, 2010 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  6. CLEON

    What did you expect from a Mississippi Republican? Heck the state just abolish slavery no too long ago. I'm waiting for Arkansas and Alabama to join in also.

    April 12, 2010 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  7. Dave

    Just when you think that even dumb rednecks like Barbour might have a clue, they go and show their true colors.

    April 12, 2010 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  8. Mike

    What else can you expect from these bozos? We know they are racist. That's what their party is all about despite what they try to say. Their true feelings eke out over and over again despite their efforts to suppress them.

    April 12, 2010 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  9. cm

    A red neck will be a red neck-

    April 12, 2010 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  10. tag...

    no secret here...the democratic party is again invoking the race card as a division of this nation. it will not work! the american people are fed up it and it will show in the 2010 and 2012 elections! shame on the democratic party......again trying to rewrite american history! the civil war and what happened during this period is a part of american history...blame the whites but the blacks had slaves too. slavery still exisits today in the world.

    April 12, 2010 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  11. Steve in Ct

    Except for the cotton gin which actually promoted slavery b y making practical harvesting of another type cotton agricultural advances (iron plows replacing wood etc.) was on the verge of making slavery less economically practical. Within 20 years slaves would have been voluntarily released because having them was expensive compaired to new farming techniques. I've deeply researched the Civil War beyond the history books that change over the generations. Firstly, let me say I don't condone slavery. But I'm objective enough to accept it was the way of the world from the beginning of humanity 'till that time. It was what it was. Knowing it's unacceptable by today's standards it is what it is. Barring horrific caticlizim (Dec. 21, 2012) bringing us to survivalism hopefully slavery is gone. But was the Civil War truely about slavery? Was slaverly the reason or an excuse for war? It was a hot topic politically because Europe had just aboloshed it. But in America it was an excuse. As is now the voting power in Washington was controlled by the most populated states, at that time the industrial north that needed a customer base for their products. When they approached Europe they were told the American products weren't needed as they made their own. BUT, since the European climate disallowed growing cotton they were in the market to buy it from America. The industrial delegation only cared about a market for their hardware, furniture, pots/pans firearms etc. and couldn't care less about benefitting the south. So they offered an agreement that America would practicaly GIVE Europe the cotton if Europe would buy the industrial products. Naturally the south wouldn't allow the distruction of their economy to benefit the north but didn't have the votes to prevent it. Thus they developed their own trading block to sell their cotton to Europe and thereby created their own country, The Confederate States of America. That's what "States Rights". was about. If people only accepted slavery as an evil of times past (was what it was) and freedom is of our times (it is what it is) and got on with persuing a better life, freedom could be for all with character enough to go for it. Celebrate the Confederacy for what it was and realize the southern states were only fighting being themselves enslaved by the northern states. Who was more pro slavery? The south or the north? Respect the Confederacy for having the determination to fight for their states rights. Hopefully you would have done the same.

    April 12, 2010 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  12. Right in a Left World

    Dunb mistake by McDonnell, but really? the omission of slavery is no more a slap in the face to Americans of African descent than Harry Reid's reference to Pres. Obama's "negro dialect," of than Clinton saying the only way he should be here is serving us coffee. Those statements reflect an unhidden agenda in the Democratic party that perpetuates the continued poverty of millions of blacks. An omission that should be obvious to all is not news, but what the two Democrats say is glossed over. Double standard anyone?

    April 12, 2010 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  13. Dan Holiday

    You can tell it is an election season when the democrats start playing the race card over and over. Come election season every Republican is a racist in their eyes. Well, at least that is what they want the voters to think. The true racist are the democrats. they are the ones that do not want to let things go. They are the ones that want to live in the past and not move forward. They are the ones that want to keep racism alive even when it is in its death throes. They are the party of racism. They are the party of the past. They are the true party of no.

    April 12, 2010 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  14. chas bronson

    If you want to relive the past. it is worth mentioning that the Democrats supported slavery and foughthard to keep it.Don't give me Uncle Tom syndrome you st upi d people.They still work hard to keep the blacks down to fullfill there purpose.Its time to stop using the sins of our forefathers to justify the lazy good for nothing give us retribution attitudes of today.Manup and get a life.

    April 12, 2010 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  15. Independent in MD

    I hope key Republicans keep making STUPID comments like this and they will definitely be relegated to a "small regional party in the permanent minority “

    I am always baffled that in this day and age, such insensitive and–in my opinion–hateful comments keep coming out of the mouths of Republicans in power. Do they really think they can get away with it? I am hoping for his sake that his comments were taken out of context, and he didn't really mean to say what he actually said. But if not, he doesn't deserve to be in public office, especially as Governor of a state with a large African American presence.

    April 12, 2010 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  16. Becky

    Wow. Next thing you know they will be wearing their white sheets in pubic...They really cant stand that a Black man runs circles around their silver spoon Messiah Bush.

    April 12, 2010 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  17. Anonymous

    But racism is dead....right

    April 12, 2010 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  18. Scott Kenan

    Considering all the information and misinformation published over the years about the Civil War, its causes, and the hows and whys of its unfoldment, it will be a long time before all is sorted and the Truth is arrived at in a way that is clear to thinking people.

    Born and raised a Yankee, in early life I accepted the revisionist stories told by the victors, but there was a complication. My fathers' family were early Southern settlers who not only fought (some taking leadership roles), in the Revolutionary War, but for the Confederacy as well. In reading about my family history, i learned that my great-grandfather, Murphy Kenan, who like me abhorred slavery, saved money for several years and then bought and immediately freed two slaves. Later, when war broke out, he immediately volunteered for the South, eventually having his big toe shot off in a battle at Malvern Hill in Virginia.

    Why did someone who so passionately hated slavery fight so proudly for the South?

    Seeking answers, i spent much time exploring contemporaneous reports of the war and what had led up to it. And what has followed it. The truth will out. I'm not a scholar, but I can tell you that those who have accepted the standard story will be in for some serious shocks. The good news is that the actual War is long over. Now, in a spirit of healing, we must unflinchingly take a fresh look at the subject and with love in our hearts, find our common ground and once and for all end the American Civil War.

    April 12, 2010 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  19. Jeff

    Anyone ever think that maybe, just maybe, they were trying to leave slavery in the past where it belongs?

    April 12, 2010 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  20. J Russ

    are you liberals so stupid as to think that anyone looks back fondly on slavery?

    As someone who's family was forced to to work for the invading armies ( no, not 1860 Virginia, and no I'm not originally from Africa – does that matter? Is my family's history of being enslaved any different?) I'm tired of hearing about it and tired of listening to you sheep fall all over yourself crying the blues because a long dead person was forced into slavery by another long dead person. Let's fix what's going on now – remember the past but let's stop fighting the same war.

    April 12, 2010 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  21. shucks

    The true republicans feelings towards African Americans was shown to the world during hurricane Katrina. If the same had happened to a predominantly white city the response would have been majestic.

    April 12, 2010 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  22. Jim M

    What is it with these guys and the slavery thing? Do they think they can brush over one of the biggest issues of the 19th century? If you are going to honor something, fine, but you have to acknowledge the bad parts of it as well.

    April 12, 2010 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  23. Dutch

    They don't have to wear their white sheets anymore.

    April 12, 2010 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  24. Reuben

    Here we go agian, we we can't just leave all this stuff in the history books. I am AA and hate to see stuff about slavery in the news it bothers me, what bothers me more is the celebration of confederate states. When people celebrate this it makes me believe that they wish slavery was still around. I believe some history just needs to be noted and left alone in the books. I am not German, but I don't believe Germans celebrate Hitler and his regime existence. Its noted but not celebrated. Same should be done for the Confederacy.

    April 12, 2010 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  25. DocRay

    Well-said, Hari and DNC! Republicans seem to enjoy showing off their ignorance of and insensitivity toward parts of our history. Revisionism of course is their approach to everything historical. They believe America did nothing wrong toward African Americans and Native Americans. They hate President Obama for showing contrition for some of the international mucking around (and CIA assassinations) that we did.

    Surprisingly these Republicans call themselves Christian. For a Christian, without repentence, there is no redemption. Oh, I forgot. These days the lions call themselves Christians even as they tear apart the poor and powerless.

    April 12, 2010 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
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