Haley Barbour Finally Gets It Right On Race

After refusing to provide a straight answer for days, Mississippii Governor Haley Barbour finally came out against a license plate honoring Confederate General and KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest:

Under pressure to address racial issues swirling around a potential presidential bid, Haley Barbour said on Monday for the first time that he wouldn’t sign legislation in Mississippi to honor a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a state-issued license plate.

“The bureaucracy denied it, the legislature won’t pass it and if the legislature passes it, it won’t become law because I won’t sign it,” Barbour told the Associated Press in an interview – a change from when he had earlier declined to take a position against the measure.

See, was that so hard?

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Elia says:

    *Golf clap*

  2. tom p says:

    >See, was that so hard?

    Probably… I have always found it difficult speaking around a foot firmly planted in my mouth.

  3. jwest says:

    Can we expect Earl Ray Tomblin (the current governor of West Virginia) to introduce legislation to remove the name of a former KKK Exalted Cyclops Robert Byrd from every bridge and rest stop in the state?

  4. An Interested Party says:

    Too little, too late for Boss Hogg…

  5. michael reynolds says:


    Did Nathan Bedford Forrest later work to redeem his legacy by reaching to those he had wronged? Was he ashamed of what he had done and been? Did he seek redemption?


    We believe in redemption, even those of us who are not religious. A man who sins then acknowledges his sin, apologizes and tries to make reparation for his sin, is a very different creature than the one who goes to his grave still in error.

  6. TG Chicago says:

    Michael — you fell into jwest’s trap. You allowed him to equate Robert Byrd with Nathan Bedford Forrest. This is wrong.

    Byrd did in fact say (and probably believe) some horrible things in his younger years. But did he ever commit a violent racist act? I’m not aware that he did.

    Meanwhile, Forrest was a slave trader and was responsible for the Fort Pillow massacre. That’s a huge difference in the amount of actual damage done.

    Byrd’s awful history of racism should never be forgotten, but it cannot be equated with Forrest’s.

    Back to Barbour — belatedly announcing that you “won’t sign” a bill instead of just coming out and saying that Forrest committed terrible acts and cannot be memorialized in this way? Nah, that’s not enough. That’s not “getting it right on race”.