news flash: The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.
And now that some Democrats are daring to point that out, in ads and interviews, the media is grabbing its smelling salts.
Mercy me! they’re crying—it’s unseemly for Southern candidates to mention that black people face discrimination, voter suppression and even violence in the Old Confederacy.
In an interview yesterday, Chuck Todd asked Senator Mary Landrieu, now locked in a tight race in Louisiana, “Why does President Obama have a hard time in Louisiana?” Fossil-fuel hawk Landrieu first cited Obama’s moratorium on off-shore drilling after the BP disaster, which she said put a lot of people out of business. Then, she ventured:
I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.
“Why is she talking like this?” Fox News host Bill Hemmer asked incredulously this morning. A guest came on to explain, “She is excusing her poor performance by blaming voters.”
It can’t be because it’s true.
Even the host of an Al Jazeera news show today, while not doubting the veracity of Landrieu’s comment, treated it like a gaffe, a bad one, and had an expert on to decide if Landrieu’s campaign was now doomed. (The verdict: maybe.)
More predictably, Republicans are shocked, shocked at Landrieu’s audacity. Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal called the remarks “remarkably divisive” and “a major insult” to Louisianans. “She appears to be living in a different century,” he said in a statement.
“Louisiana deserves better than a senator who denigrates her own people by questioning and projecting insidious motives on the very people she claims to represent,” State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere said in a statement. “Senator Landrieu and President Obama are unpopular for no other reason than the fact the policies they advance are wrong for Louisiana and wrong for America.” And of course there’ve been demands that Landrieu apologize. (Do not do this, Mary.)
It’s not that people, left or right, shouldn’t object to Obama’s policies. But the claim that whites in the South, or elsewhere, hate Obama’s policies (many of which are Republican-bred) and are color-blind to his race is ludicrous. But they can get away with it in part because of the persistent myth that this is a post-racial America, the one the Supreme Court decided was so enlightened that it gutted the civil rights voting law and has allowed the voter ID laws in Texas to stand.