Tag Archives: Mississippi

Mississipi–Still Number One

Every once in a while, I worry that voters in Mississippi will grow up, maybe read something other than the bible, and join the 21st Century. That would be really bad for Indiana, since in so many categories, Mississippi  is all that stands between Hoosiers and utter ignominy.

Silly me–I shouldn’t have worried.

Here’s an upcoming ballot initiative from the Magnolia state:

The State of Mississippi hereby acknowledges the fact of her identity as a principally Christian and quintessentially Southern state, in terms of the majority of her population, character, culture, history, and heritage, from 1817 to the present; accordingly, the Holy Bible is acknowledged as a foremost source of her founding principles, inspiration, and virtues; and, accordingly, prayer is acknowledged as a respected, meaningful, and valuable custom of her citizens. The acknowledgments hereby secured shall not be construed to transgress either the national or the state Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

Um–hate to tell you this, Mississippi voters, but saying this language shouldn’t be “construed” as violating the Bill of Rights would be a lot like saying that if I fatally shoot you, that shouldn’t be “construed” as murder.

“Principally Christian and quintessentially Southern….”

Too many Hoosier lawmakers would feel right at home.

Take the Sin Survey

Mississippi has passed one of those “religious freedom” bills, protecting the right of merchants who are “people of faith” to refuse service to members of the public whose identities/behaviors offend their tender religious sensibilities. (Translation: gay people.)

In response, a guy named Mitchell Moore, who owns Campbell’s Bakery, started an anti-discrimination campaign, and from the looks of it, he and many other business owners are having some fun with it.

Initially, the campaign created a large window decal proclaiming “We don’t discriminate: If you’re buying, we’re selling.” The decal proved popular with Mississippi businesspeople who remembered that they were in business. Now, Moore has produced a tongue-in-cheek “potential Campbell’s customer survey,” an online list of yes-or-no questions, complete with Biblical references:

Unbelievable as it may seem, some people took the survey literally–prompting Mr. Moore to post the following message to the Bakery’s Facebook page:

The “Potential Customer Questionnaire” is just a spoof folks. There are some people saying that my bakery shouldn’t serve certain people. I think that is RIDICULOUS. We are a business open to the public. The Public includes a TON of people I disagree with. If I only limited selling to people who aren’t sinners I couldn’t even eat my own food. We will sell our product to the public, to sinners, to people we disagree with, to anyone who loves Made From Scratch goods and wants to buy them. That is what we are in business to do.

Wow. Someone who knows the difference between a business and and a church, and actually wants to encourage people to buy his goods! Who’d have thought?

If they aren’t careful, Mr. Moore and his fellow campaigners will give Mississippi a good name.

 

The New “N” Word

I learn a lot from my friends on Facebook.

Yesterday, a couple of people linked to a Slate Magazine report of a poll of Republican electorates in Mississippi and Alabama. The results were eye-opening, in more respects than one: by considerable margins, GOP voters in both states rejected evolution (66% in Mississippi, 60% in Alabama), and believed that President Obama is a Muslim (in Mississippi, only 12% said he was Christian, while 52% said Muslim and 36% were unsure; in Alabama, 14% said Christian, 45% Muslim and 41% unsure).

My first reactions were predictable. 1) A country that rejects science is a country in decline; 2) People who insist that Obama is a Muslim are probably are many of the same people who criticize him for attending a church where Rev. Wright was pastor–i.e., intentionally ignorant people; and 3) So what if he were Muslim? Being Muslim shouldn’t be any more out of the American mainstream than being Mormon or Jewish or Unitarian.

But of course, this isn’t about the comparative merits of different theologies. This is about pathology. It’s about the hate that dare not speak its name.

Another friend’s post hit that proverbial nail on its head. “Muslim” he wrote “is the new “N” word.”

We’ve come far enough in America to make the use of the original “N” word unacceptable, even among people who harbor very racist beliefs. We come far enough to actually elect a black President, and by a pretty substantial margin. That’s progress, and I don’t mean to diminish its significance.

But to dismiss the immediate and irrational response to that election and this President–to insist that every criticism of Obama is grounded in policy differences–is to ignore the elephant in the room.

The “birthers” and their ilk–the folks who insist that the President was born in Kenya, or that he is an adherent of a religion they have also demonized–are intent on labeling Obama as alien, as Other. But they don’t want to admit to themselves–or betray to others–the true source of that Otherness, or the real reason for their animus: the color of his skin.

At least they are true to their own beliefs: they haven’t evolved.