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. Greg

    Does this really surprise anyone when it comes to Barbour. This man is clueless. He goes on CNN FOX and MSNBC attacking the Health Care plan yet his state is ranked the bottom when it comes to Health Care.

    April 12, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  2. Helen

    I look at barbour and I see Archie Bunker. Need I say more?

    April 12, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. SPLackey

    The DNC chastises GOP over slavery??? And CNN trumps it up! Funny, no one remembers that Byrd was in the KKK, George Wallace was a Dem as well as most of the Southern leadership during the time of slavery, and fought non-Dems to keep it in place. Even after it was starting to decline. So the northern Dems made house servants out of them. Please, someone hold these morons to task.

    April 12, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  4. Olivia, Atlanta

    Not mention slavery " ...doesn't amount to diddly"!

    Wow! It seems there is still a lot of "mississippi" not only in Virginia but also in Mississippi. At least that seems to be the case with the equally stupid declarations of their governors. One of these days some "old-fashion," "son-of-a-confederate-soldier" republican governor will come with the idea to limit Women's vote or to restate one original constitution statement [a shameful original sin of our nation] saying that a black person is worth 3/5 of a white person.

    April 12, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  5. Concerned Canadian

    A Republican governor uttering ignorant and offensive remarks. Who'd have thought???

    April 12, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  6. Diamond

    Finally, Barbour and Ahmedinejad have something in common. Slavery, like the holocaust 'doesn't amount to diddly'!?! Oh Republican, evil is thy name.

    April 12, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. wond

    I am sorry that we are still discussing slavery when we know that is evil. I thought we are the leader of the modern world and thought we have left this very low period of history and rushing to the 21st century leading the rest of the world. I thought people of the world looking up to America to lead instead we are still discussing issues that offend the fellow American for political gain. I don’t see the what we will benefit or gain by cheering or celebrating this dark period of history that might offend our next door neighbor or may be may be the person fighting for American Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. Please let us come to our sense and start thinking collectively and condemn in the strongest possible terms for the sake of this great Nation.

    April 12, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. PEDRO

    Well done Barbour. Keep America tuned in to the reality that the GOP is the part of racists headed by your own Uncle Tom...well, at least for another few days.

    April 12, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  9. Ryan D

    Sometimes it's better to just shut-up and let things settle instead of trying to get the last word. Jesus Barbour...really?

    April 12, 2010 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  10. Grundoon

    In these gigantic losers don't have remorse in the heart beccause they are racists to the bone

    April 12, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  11. Vic of New York

    Hey, Governor "Barbarian" - Maybe you can take a swat at suggesting the Holocaust "was a nit" , or maybe you can suggest it never happened.

    The seems to be par for the course for your kind and the rest of the racist, right-wing, religious intolerant, socials bigots your "party" represents.

    April 12, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  12. sharon

    ......"doesn't amount to diddly".............was anyone iin his family sold?
    was anyone in his family tortured?
    was anyone in his family killed?
    made less than human?
    put on?
    put out?
    spit on?
    the list goes on and on..............................................
    all because of the color of the "skin".
    This gov..........................needs to go......................................
    I am sure ...............it won't amount to diddly...................................

    April 12, 2010 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  13. demogal

    As a white woman who grew up in the South, I am furious at the GOP attitude (as expressed by Haley Barbour) in this matter. Not only are these southern Republicans in denial, but they are trying to rewrite history for the rest of us. The Civil War involved a traitorous rebellion against the legitimate government of this nation. Where else in the world would such a legacy be celebrated? ...and the flag and other emblems of such an insurrection be allowed?

    April 12, 2010 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  14. Deb

    He should resign from being the Governor. This is such a shame. Barbour, McDonnell, the Tea Party, the Republican party and Fox News are the KKK without sheets.

    April 12, 2010 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  15. wewill

    The South is more racists...sorry but the truth hurts! The people who live down there with this mindset is many and in the majority. What a sad and dangerous part of the country. They long for the good ol days when [they] didn't have to work...the Slaves DID IT ALL! The people who feel Slavery wasn't so bad DISGUST ME TO MY CORE!

    April 12, 2010 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  16. Russ H

    The democrats and republicians need to start shaping up our country instead of bringing all this junk up. Slavery was bad and their is still some in the world, but bringing up about your dad had this slave and etc is not helping our country at all. Both parties grow up, have your differences and then rationalize them out. Our kids could do a better job then the idiots we call politicans.

    April 12, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. Michael

    Seeing as how the GOP is fighting tooth and nail to protect the slavery of the 21st century – the stranglehold of insurance companies and Wall Street on the American middle class – it should not surprise anyone that they fail to understand why slavery is a big deal.
    They are the equivalent of Confederate slaveowners: those who are profiting by the status quo – and they do not see how they could be wrong.

    April 12, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  18. Gregory

    Barbour is right. if you're not a descendant of a slave, a good Christian, or anyone with commone sense. Slavery means a bit more than didly. That's like saying "Ah shucks Homer, what's all this didly about Nazis? Nobody likes Nazis but hey, what harm is there in a little ole Nazi Aprreciation Month? Why all these jewfolks and liberals getting all upset?"

    April 12, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  19. JC

    My Great Grandfathers fought to preserve the Union, put down the rebellion and oh, yes put an end to slavery. It ended, it's over, it's done.

    April 12, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  20. ConsiderThis-FL

    Spoken like a true Klansman.

    April 12, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  21. Sgt. USMC

    When a public official can only describe the emotions that people feel when slavery is brought up as diddly, he has no place in public office. I guess this is what they mean when they say they want to take their country back. I wonder if the tea party is going to condenm what this governor said since they're all about freedom.

    April 12, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  22. Dan

    It is ironic that The Democratic Party, which has enjoyed over a hundred years of Southern favor, is attacking Republicans over the issue of slavery. The 'Party of Lincoln' are the ones who ended this institution, and the south has been voting against GOP candidates on a regular basis for the last century over the perception that they were responsible for the South's defeat in the Civil War. Republicans Ended Slavery. Get over it.

    April 12, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  23. Ben in Texas

    They say history is written by the winners. Having been born and raised in Texas, and having lived in the north and overseas, I think I understand a bit about different views of the American Civil War.

    The northerners I've met understand the war strictly from the slavery standpoint, while southerners grew up on stories of great Confederate generals and hard battles against long odds, as well as slavery. It's 150 years later, and southerners, although they may harbor racist feelings (as do many northerners), don't believe in slavery. Southerners do have the right to be proud of their heritage, despite the fact that it includes slavery. Slavery was widespread in the world at that time, and it's wrong to judge the antebellum South by 21st Century standards.

    The best way for northerners to understand this is to see the parallels with American history. You are a native of a country that enshrined slavery in its Constitution. All those founding fathers you look up to, like Madison, Jefferson, Hancock, and Adams put their names on a document that counted black folk as 2/3 of a human. Later, your government nearly exterminated Native American culture. And yet, you might not feel that it was essential to take note of these things in a proclamation announcing American History Month.

    April 12, 2010 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  24. H in Hermosa Beach

    Its amazing how these freak conservatives right wing religious fanatics think they are superior. They are the cloak of satan!! They are physically ugly...

    April 12, 2010 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  25. The GOP wants to take our country backwards

    WOW - the GOP is made up of old white guys who are TRULY out of touch. To say that slavery, while bad, was not a big enough deal to be acknowledged (but the traitorous confederates who tried to divide our country are) is reprehensible and a throw-back to the era before civil rights. This just demonstrates yet again that the GOP is backward and wants to take our country backward instead of moving us forward with a plan for the future.

    April 12, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
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