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The Sciences

Haley Barbour is Free at Last

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMarch 29, 2011 4:35 PM

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According to Politico, the Mississippi Governor

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.

Are we living in some kind of bizarro world? Just think about that for a second and ask yourself, how is it possible that this "forthright declaration" from a national figure in the Republican party is treated at face value 150 years after the Civil War? Even the normally arch Democracy in America blog is parsing the political significance of Barbour's reckoning with history. Others are treating his admission with appropriate absurdity, such as this headline from New York Magazine:

Haley Barbour Admits That Abolishing Slavery Was a Good Thing

And this one slapped on at The Huffington Post:

Haley Barbour Endorses Union Victory in the Civil War

As for the reaction from Governor Barbour's base, I hear that an update to this classic is in the works. Here's a sneak preview of the revised lyrics: Well I heard mister Young Barbour sing talk about her Well, I heard ole Neil Haley put her down Well, I hope Neil Young Haley Barbour will remember A Southern man don't need him around anyhow

There's this new line, too: In Birmingham Biloxi, they love the governor (boo boo boo) Well, we shall see.

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