Commentary: Goodbye and Good Riddance, Haley Barbour

The governor's parting gift to African-Americans and the state of Mississippi.

Posted: 01/12/2012 07:00 AM EST
Haley Barbour, Politics, Mississippi, resigns, govenor, racism

In his last act as governor, Haley Barbour Tuesday tried to pull a fast one on the people of the state of Mississippi.


During his tumultuous tenure as the governor of Mississippi, Barbour managed to offend a lot of people with his crass, almost belligerent political swagger. This is especially true of African-Americans whom he seems to offend often with his racial insensitivity.


The now-former governor has once again raised eyebrows by issuing well over 200 pardons to an array of criminals with a myriad of offenses. Among them are: murder, rape, car-jacking and child enticement. According to Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood, Barbour’s actions are “the most horrendous thing” he’s ever seen; adding that some of the convicts the governor pardoned pose a “grave danger” to the community. Hood was granted an injunction Tuesday preventing the release of the prisoners.


As of this writing, Barbour has yet to give a statement about the pardons.


What gets me is Barbour can pardon Tommy Gatlin, who murdered his wife, Tammy, in cold blood while she was holding their baby, yet, he couldn’t find the humanity to pardon Jamie and Gladys Scott, the sisters who served close to 16 years of a life sentence for an armed robbery that netted them a grand total of $11 in cash.


Barbour faced intense media scrutiny and political pressure from the African-American community to pardon the Scott sisters on humanitarian grounds due to the fact that one of the sisters was suffering from diabetes and was in desperate need of a kidney. In January of 2011, the governor bowed to the mounting political pressure and granted the sisters an early release. Sadly, Barbour refused to grant them a full pardon. Instead, he commuted their sentence a week after his statements about the Citizens Councils drew heavy criticism.


(Historically, the WCC used social and economic intimidation to prevent African-Americans from fighting for integrated schools. But according to Barbour, the white Citizens Council was merely “an organization of town leaders.”)


Barbour’s willingness to give convicted murderers and rapists a pass, but ignore the needs of two Black women who stole just $11 is appalling. By doing this, the former governor gave the African-American community and the state of Mississippi his butt to kiss. To him I say, goodbye and good riddance. 


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 (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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