In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Barbour Refuses To Denounce Proposed License Plates Honoring KKK Founder

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Newscom

This is not Barbour's first time struggling with the politics of race. This past December, in a profile in the Weekly Standard, Barbour praised the segregationist Citizens Councils -- a movement of racist organizations that were founded to resist integration and promote white supremacy.

"You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK," said Barbour. "Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders. In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you'd lose it. If you had a store, they'd see nobody shopped there. We didn't have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City."

While it is true that the Citizens Councils opposed the Ku Klux Klan, the disagreement was based on tactical differences. Whereas as the Klan endorsed violence, the Citizens Councils favored economic coercion and political pressure. The Councils were known mainly for launching boycotts of pro-civil rights individuals, including a notable incident in Barbour's home town, with the intention of deterring African-Americans from seeking their civil rights.

Barbour subsequently released a statement, declaring the Citizens Councils to have been "totally indefensible."