GOP Senate candidate won’t retract lynching remark

There are still two undecided Senate races, and one of them is in Mississippi, where a Nov. 27 runoff election pits Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith against Democrat Mike Espy, a black man.

On Nov. 2 — the Friday before the election — Hyde-Smith said at a campaign stop if her host, a local cattle rancher, “invited me to a public hanging, I’d have a front-row seat.”

Between 1882 and 1968, a total of 581 people were lynched in Mississippi, mostly blacks. The infamous 1964 civil rights murders, on which the movie “Mississippi Burning” is based, occurred there. Former KKK leader Edgar Ray Killen was convicted in 2005 in a high-profile trial of masterminding those killings, and died in prison earlier this year.

Hyde-Smith’s remark has ignited a media firestorm. Trying to explain it away, she issued a statement saying, “I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”

The press isn’t having it, but her only response to reporters’ questions has been, “I put out a statement, and that’s all I’m gonna say about it.

Mississippi’s Republican governor’s attempt to defend her fell almost as flat: “She meant no offense by that statement. There was nothing in her heart of ill will.” He then asserted, “Absolutely we have been sensitive to race relations in this state,” then complained that black leaders didn’t show up for a grand opening of civil rights museums in Jackson, Mississippi, attended by Trump. (Ya think?)

The answer is simple: Mississippi’s voters, including its black voters, will have an opportunity on Nov. 27 to express their opinion of Hyde-Smith. Today, 40% of Mississippi’s population is black, and Hyde-Smith isn’t popular with the state’s Republicans because she served in the state legislature as a Democrat, although she describes herself as a lifelong conservative. In any case, Espy and Hyde-Smith will appear on the ballot without party labels, because the election is officially nonpartisan.

Read the story here.

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Mark Adams #

    From 1818 to 1949 there were 794 legal executions in Mississippi by hanging. Hangings were public until the 1930’s. The majority were negro males, but the first hanging was that of a white male for stealing a slave.
    The real question should be where Mike Espy stands on execution. Most southern democrats are more conservative than northern democrats. Other than the clear institutional prejudice of Mississippi in those it executes the two candidates may not be at all at odds on the issue, though there is some scoring of meaningless political points unless Mike Espy is against the states or Federal government executing people as a form of punishment, without such a stand or a discussion of institutional racism this is much ado about nothing, taking a comment out of context.
    And hanging is a legal method of execution in Washington state should the state execute someone. I personally would prefer for our state to do away with the death penalty, and perhaps be an example to Mississippi, and should the state of Washington do a hanging it should be done publicly.

  2. Roger Rabbit #

    You missed the point, Mark. This article isn’t about state executions. Hyde-Smith’s remark evokes Mississippi’s lynching past. There’s no chance she’s ignorant of that past or doesn’t appreciate the insensitivity of her remark to Mississippi’s black population. She was caught red handed appealing to the racism of her white audience in the most odious fashion possible. It ought to cost her the election, and it just might, just as Romney’s infamous insult against 47% of the U.S. population likely cost him the 2012 election or at least contributed to his loss. Regardless of partisan loyalty, this is not the sort of person anyone should want in the U.S. Senate. Of course we’ve had racist southern Senators before, lots of them, but for God’s sake this is the 21st century, and that needs to be in the past and stay there.

Your Comment