RACE TO THE FINISH: Mississippi building!


Epilogue—The AP and James Meredith: Is it true?

Do 51 percent of Americans “now express explicit anti-black attitudes?” Do “a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks?”

It all depends on what the meaning of “express explicit anti-black attitudes” is!

Last week, the persistently gullible Associated Press piddled with our nation’s most serious topic. Without a hint of skepticism, it bought those claims from a mumble-mouthed car pool of unimpressive professors.

But wouldn’t you know it? A few weeks earlier, a “good news” story had managed to escape from the South!

On October 20, we caught the news from CNN’s Don Lemon, an unusually sensible and sensitive cable news host. In the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, Phil West had already reported the story:
WEST (10/13/12): University of Mississippi crowns first African-American homecoming queen

OXFORD—Courtney Pearson is the University of Mississippi's first African-American homecoming queen, and she's the first to admit she didn't win the election on her looks.

Pearson, 21, is a vivacious, barely 5-foot-tall bundle of energy from Bartlett [Tennessee] who was crowned during Saturday's Auburn-Ole Miss football game.

"I'm not white, I'm not six feet, I'm not blonde, I'm not Greek, I don't drive a 2012 (Mercedes) Benz," Pearson said during an interview at the university's J.D. Williams Library.

Instead, Pearson is a short, dark-haired English major who campaigned hard and maximized her use of Facebook and other social media to help her campaigns.
That’s the same Oxford Dylan described in his famous song, Oxford Town.

Does it really matter if Ole Miss has crowned a black homecoming queen? You’ll have to judge that one for yourself—and West noted that Pearson isn’t exactly an absolute total first:

“African-American women have attained campus-wide titles in the past, but none has been elected homecoming queen,” West wrote. “A university news release said Kimsey O'Neal Cooper of Carthage in 1989 was the first black student to be selected Miss Ole Miss. In 1997, Carissa Alana Wells of Hamilton became the first African-American crowned Miss University.”

It seems there are numerous ways to be named a queen at Ole Miss! For ourselves, we said God bless this newer Ole Miss when West continued with this:
WEST: Pearson's election adds one more "first" for African-American students at the university that admitted its first black student, James Meredith, amid violence and armed protesters 50 years ago.

Kimberly Dandridge of Como, Miss., last spring was the first African-American woman to be elected Associated Student Body president at the University of Mississippi.

"I've taken a lot of alumni and shown them that this can be done and that Ole Miss is progressing and that Ole Miss is becoming this more accepting place," Pearson said. "Even without my knowing it, this has touched so many people."
God bless this newer Ole Miss, which also has a young black woman as student body president!

We were also struck by the last part of West’s report:

“Pearson, whose parents are Ole Miss alumni, said she wants to become a teacher or attend graduate school after completing her undergraduate studies.”

This newer Ole Miss is so old school that Pearson is a legacy. She’s the daughter of Ole Miss grads!

(In the university’s press release, the Dean of Students remembered. “Courtney Pearson has been a real asset to our student body even before this election,” he said. “She loves Ole Miss, and I knew her dad when he was a student here.”)

What is life like among the young people, black and white, who now attend Ole Miss? We can’t tell you that. Last year, we were thrilled when we read Andrew Hacker’s assessment of the university (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/21/11).

Hacker earned his bones on race a long time ago. In his most recent book, the clumsily-titled Higher Education?, he and co-author Claudia Dreifus showered praise on the modern Ole Miss. (“Of all the flagship universities we visited, we found the University of Mississippi the most appealing.”)

We were thrilled by Hacker’s account of the newer Ole Miss. He and Dreifus even wrily reported a glorious, once unimaginable sighting involving a homecoming princess:
HACKER/DREIFUS (page 219): Today, on campus, there’s a statue of James Meredith and Ole Miss is a university where reconciliation and civility are at the very heart of the educational mission. Much of this transformation is the work of Robert Khayat, a remarkable leader, who retired from the chancellorship in 2009. Khayat, himself a former footballer, raised academic standards, tripled the African American enrollment, and banned confederate flags from athletic events—a truly courageous step...

Ole Miss now has a Center for the Study of Southern Culture that focuses on the art, literature, music and food of the region, black and white. Rowan Oak, Faulkner’s home, is an on-campus museum. Rita Bender, the wife of Mickey Schwerner, one of the civil rights workers murdered during the summer of 1964, gives a course in “restorative justice.” And did we see correctly at the football game? Was that really a black athlete escorting an extremely white homecoming princess across the field?

When Melissa Cole, a pre-med student in the Barksdale Honors College, first though about attending Ole Miss, her friends back home in Jackson asked, “Why would you want to go there?” She’s African-American. Once at Oxford, she got involved with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, which she described as having started much “dialogue of racial reconciliation, racial issues on campus, and how to come together. It’s not only black and white, but also international students who are having different experiences.” She believes, “Ole Miss has a lot to offer for anybody of any race.”
Melissa Cole spoke in praise of Ole Miss. So did Pearson, in an interview with NPR’s Michel Martin.

Pearson sounds like a trained diplomat—or like a daughter of the South. She is full of the positive spirit which drives a society’s younger people when it's blessed with good fortune:
MARTIN (10/16/12): I understand that one of the other significant factors, though, that's significant about this is that you're not Greek. You're not a member of a Greek letter organization. You're not a member of a sorority.

PEARSON: I'm not.

MARTIN: Which is kind of an automatic network. So some people might think that that's a disadvantage, but perhaps in your case, it was—

PEARSON: I mean, I honestly think it was an advantage. I love Greek life at Ole Miss. I think all the Greek organizations do wonderful things, but it was definitely great for the folks who weren't Greek to be able to look at me and say, “Oh, my goodness. She's not in a sorority. She's not Greek. She could really represent me.” We're actually only 30, about 30 percent Greek, and so it was really interesting to see that other half come out and say, “You know, we like her and we definitely want her to represent us.”

MARTIN: You have a strong legacy. Your mother, your father and your stepmother all went to Ole Miss. So what are your duties, and why did you want the job?

PEARSON: I wanted the job because I had seen a very good friend of mine, a mentor of mine, run two years ago, and she came up unsuccessful. And I really just couldn't understand how someone so amazing could come up short, and I wanted to go out and I wanted to say, “OK. Let's show what Ole Miss is really all about.”

And when my friends started approaching me and they started saying, “You know, you would be a great homecoming queen,” it was one of those things where I was like, you know, if I thought about it this much, then I really should do it. If I can think about it and I want to be this amazing representative of my university, then I should put all of my fears aside and everything aside and go out and show people what Ole Miss is really all about.

MARTIN: If you're just joining us, you're listening to Tell Me More, from NPR News. My guest is Courtney Pearson.
Is this “what Ole Miss is really all about” at this time? We can’t tell you that. But Pearson is a superb politician—and she seems to be bursting with pride about her parents’ alma mater.

Ole Miss is lucky to have students like Como and Cole and Pearson. Then too, we have those tired old professors, up north and out west, trying to Keep R-Bombs Alive.

When James Meredith integrated Ole Miss in 1962, we lived just a few miles from Stanford. We were fourteen years old and we were lucky; we had bright, idealistic young high school teachers who encouraged us white suburbans to keep our eye on the South.

Today, Stanford lies at the heart of an embarrassing movement in “social science.” To our ear, this movement seems designed to let us liberals keep dropping our R-bombs on everyone else—on everyone who doesn’t come around to the precise ways the professors have decided we must think and talk.

Meredith wouldn’t stand a chance with this crowd! For the most part, he turned out to be an iconoclastic conservative. Trust us:

If Meredith ever subjected himself to the AP’s pitiful “tests,” he would be found to be “expressing explicit anti-black attitudes” too! There’s no chance he could “pass.”

By the way, Jackie Robinson was a Republican too. God bless Jackie Robinson, to whom we all owe such a debt.

Can we talk? The Associated Press has bought every line of scripted bullshit that has come down the pike in the past thirty years. According to this unskilled news org, Al Gore said he invented the Internet—and Susan Rice “initially called the Sept. 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya a spontaneous protest.”

Yes, that’s what this pitiful pseudo-news org said. Do you think the AP gets more discerning when it tackles race?

The AP is not a discerning news org. Last week, it rushed to repeat a pile of claims by some unimpressive professors. In truth, the AP isn’t up to the task of discussing race in America.

The professors have worked for the forty years to Keep R-Bombs Alive. As southern whites began to abandon traditional trapping of racist culture, some professors began looking for ways to reassure the world and the tribe that nothing could have changed.

From the early 1970s forward, they have worked to push the very fuzzy concept they call “Symbolic Racism.” Various offshoots have appeared. At heart, all are designed to let the professors keep dropping their bombs on the public, unless proles are willing to answer their questions exactly as they have prescribed.

Race is our most important topic. The professors make a joke of the topic when they pose their questions to people who don’t understand that they just shouldn’t respond.

The AP keeps buying this big load of crap, as it so constantly does.

What is going on in the South? We pseudo-liberals rarely praise the newer ways, in which tremendous breakthroughs have occurred. Much as the Old South once did, we prefer to cling to the good old days, refusing to adapt to, or even acknowledge, the changes occurring around us.

Do “51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes?” In the north and in the west, a group of professors have found several ways to render that soul-stirring tribal claim.

We advise you to look for smarter ways to keep track of the world.

Making James Meredith proud: In his interview with Pearson, Lemon asked her about James Meredith:
LEMON (10/20/12): There's a picture here, and I have just been informed of my producers— I think— Is this you with James Meredith, the guy in the red shirt?

PEARSON: In the red shirt. Yes, that is.

LEMON: That is?


LEMON: That was the man to integrate Ole Miss, you're the first homecoming queen. I mean, what was going through your head?

PEARSON: It was just amazing. He's— I met him right after I won, a couple of days later, in the skybox with the chancellor, and it was just a wonderful opportunity to just be in his midst and be able to personally tell him thank you and to see him again for homecoming and to take a picture with him. It was really— It was just a wonderful moment for me to be able to just say thank you and really be in his presence.


PEARSON: And be able to be—to have him be proud of me. That's a huge thing for me.
Trust us: Meredith would never pass the professors’ “tests.” Not in a million years!

To Pearson, it was a huge thing to know that she had made Meredith proud. Luckily, the nation is blessed with professors know much better than people like that.


  1. american, u.s. americanNovember 3, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    you dispute others methodology...with anecdote?

    1. My point exactly. Thank you for making it the first comment. I just don't get Bob on the subject of race. The need to deny racism is strange. One certainly can overstate racism, and we've made great strides. But it's still there...

    2. american, u.s. americanNovember 4, 2012 at 1:25 AM

      >>> if bobby kennedy had lived and won, the parties might very well not be as divided along racial lines as they are today... as indicated by this quote from, “why the democrats are blue: secular liberalism and the decline of the peoples party”, by mark stricherz, pg. 125:

      “in the 1968 campaign, most democrats recognized that the party had to change. the most important voice in this regard was bobby kennedy, the 42 year old senator from new york. kennedy believed that the party should reach out to new voters, but not at the expense of its old ones. he envisioned a “black-blue or “have not” coalition – an electoral alliance that added one new constituency, principally the young baby boomers and opponents of the war, ***but did not downgrade the interests of two old constituencies, blue collar workers and catholics.***” [***'s mine]

      >>> can you imagine if robert “to hell or connaught” somerby were around back then, the job he would have done on these two truly courageous americans-with-irish-catholic-heritage, jfk and rfk? would we have ever heard of them? how many courageous americans-with-irish-catholic-heritage potential leaders has he and his like held back? how many more truly courageous americans will they keep out, allowing us to select only from the go along to get along type?

      “america today without the kennedys” would that title sell?

    3. "you dispute others methodology...with anecdote?"

      Actually, it IS just an anecdote!

      But only a committed(!) liar like lowercaseguy could pretend that this post constitutes Somerby's argument this survey of "racist" attitudes.

      This post is, of course, just as its subtitle tells us, merely an "epilogue."

      There have been many thoughtful points of actual argument already made against this ridiculous, laughable survey earlier in the series.

      It is not really defensible.

      And so, true to form, the idiots and fools don't defend it, they merely attack the messenger. Ineffectively.

      "how many courageous americans-with-irish-catholic-heritage potential leaders has Somerby held back?"

      Uhh. You really need to recheck your dosage indication, lowercaseguy. You really (as always) have nothing at all to hang that slur of yours on.

      And Mitchell J. Friedman, you could not be more disingenuous if you tried. Pretending that Somerby is arguing against the existence of racism is hallucinatory.

    4. Bob is cherry picking polls in his original attack on the methodology, and then has forgotten how the polling back in 2008 did reveal significant white concern over the black candidate, Obama, including among Democratic Party voters. Since Bob likes anecdotes, doesn't he recall the white rural Pennsylvania man who told an Obama canvasser a few weeks before the election, and after the economy had cratered, "We're votin' for the nigger!"

      Racism is not a predictor of how a person votes all the time. Racism is itself a manifestation of the limits of our own rationality. Instead of his heated rhetoric around the edge of the report, and his U of Miss. anecdote, Bob should have done far more analysis the questions and answers given before ripping it.

    5. american, u.s. americanNovember 4, 2012 at 2:21 PM

      calling projection central, anon 8:29 please,

      you say: “But only a committed(!) liar like lowercaseguy...”

      >>> as somerbys stand-in (or somerby?) you have a classic case of projection, at best.

      you say: “And so, true to form, the idiots and fools don't defend it, they merely attack the messenger. “

      >>> [see my first response above]

      you quote me and then respond: "how many courageous americans-with-irish-catholic-heritage potential leaders has Somerby held back?" [qouting me]

      [you responding] "Uhh. You really need to recheck your dosage indication, lowercaseguy. You really (as always) have nothing at all to hang that slur of yours on."

      >>> {my response] defending ones 'group' ( as though 'we' are a coherent social group) against bigotry is not itself bigotry. 

      somerby has been flamboyantly anti americans-with-irish-catholic-heritage on this site, despite himself apparently having some of that same background. 

      he has used both techniques of the bigot. he has explicitly espoused that americans with iriish-catholic heritage have various bad characteristics.]

      second, he has repeatedly named people who have or appear to have irish-catholic heritage as the culprit of some misdeed, real or not, all out of proportion to their numbers in that group (such as the media or gop politics); in the second method without mentioning their heritage. 

      google his old site (no comment box), extant into late 2011, in order to get the strongest bigotry:

      *** site:dailyhowler.com irish catholic *** (old site)

      the new site has its share of bigotry as well, although not usually as raw. heres a couple of examples from the new site. in the first, note particularly the responses of “lonely eyes” and “quickdraw” to somerbys column and to some of his more outspokenly bigoted readers, or somerby himself perhaps:


      ---second example, note particularly the comments of “hugh mann”:


      site:dailyhowler.blogspot.com irish catholic (new site)

  2. In some ways accusations of racism resemble witch trials. Of course we don't execute racists, but being a racist is considered bad or even evil.

    The major resemblance is in the conveniently shifting standards of evidence. Evidence of racism, likes evidence of witchcraft, is whatever the accuser says. And, once a person is accused, the burden of proof is on him or her to prove s/he's not a racist or witch. But, there's way to absolutely prove one isn't a racist or witch, so the accusation pretty much amounts to a conviction.

    In both cases, the accusations can be self-serving. In Salem in the 1600's one of the chief accusers was a women whose husband got the property of anyone judged a witch. Meanwhile, today, liberals win elections by accusing conservatives of racism.

    1. "Of course we don't execute racists." And, in fact, being racist or expressing racists views isn't even against the law. And since there are no actual tribunals, there are neither burdens of proof nor convictions. In fact, the "accused" isn't required to pay the slightest mind to the accusations. And should someone so "accused" wish to reply to this insult, he may produce evidence of his prior statements, acts, and relationships.

      In other words, accusations of racism resemble witch trials in that they bear no resemblance to witch trials.

  3. "Meanwhile, today, liberals win elections by accusing conservatives of racism." I think the point of many of B. Somerby's posts is that this is how liberals lose elections.

    As for this post, strange, and off in the way B. Somerby's postings on race, and on academia, often are. Certainly Ole Miss seems like a much more interesting place than many people appreciate, and stories like this should be more widely disseminated. But to assume that "professors" overall disdain subtlety about racial attitudes in this country and disdain southerners generally (we should assume this because MSNBC has Melissa Harris-Perry on its payroll? because Rachel Maddow was a Rhodes Scholar? btw, Professor Harris-Perry was raised and largely educated in the south and now teaches at Tulane -- she IS a southerner; Rachel Maddow has never been a professor) is a rather peculiar way to go about constructing an argument which any of us should pay any attention to.

  4. As every Arizonan that supports SB 1070 will tell you, it's not about race.

    Why, they love their Latinos, and their Latinos love them!

    Where have I heard that before? Somewhere in Virginia in the 1950's I think.

    No, SB 1070 has Nothing to do with brown skin, it is all about identity theft, loss of jobs to American citizens, illegal immigrants getting government handouts on the taxpayer's dime, and mass killings of policemen and border patrol agents.

    And don't forget 70% of all Americans think Arizona is on the right track with SB 1070, (but not Mitt Romney, of course).

    I think Bob might admit someone is a racist if they were seen wearing a hooded white robe emblazoned with a red Templar cross, carrying a shotgun and a noose, and standing in the bed of a pickup truck at midnight.

    Evidently, anything short of that is insufficient evidence.

    1. Thanks for illustrating the point of my last comment, gravymeister. SB70 has a number of valid purposes, as you noted. Furthermore, SB70 specifically bans racial profiling. Yet, you and your ilk decided that that support of SB70 proves racism, just as warts proved being a witch.

      To scientifically show that SB 70 proves racism, you'd have to show that Americans don't have the same objection to mass illegal immigration of caucasians. We haven't experienced mass illegal immigration of caucasians, but 100 there was plenty of objection to mass legal immigration by caucasian immigrants.

    2. And when, say, Glen Beck does engage in really ugly race baiting? He calls it "unfortunate", and moves on fast!

  5. David, David, David,

    Why do you buy into the BS?

    I was being sarcastic!

    The identity theft involves sending one's payroll deductions to a working SSN account.
    That money, well over a trillion dollars and growing rapidly, will never go to the illegals paying it.

    Sure, a few native-born bricklayers and framers are out of work, but most of that is a direct result of the housing bust.

    The reports of illegals getting on welfare rolls is greatly exaggerated.

    Voter fraud? Illegal immigrants don't walk into polling booths and demand a ballot.

    Police and border patrol agents slain? Lies from Jan Brewer and Paul Babeu, supreme race-baiters themselves.

    One of Babeu's deputies shot himself and claimed it was border-crossers. There was no evidence to support his claim. He was fired. But not after Babeu and Brewer made hay for months.

    One Border agent was killed in a shootout with drug smugglers. Nobody cares about him because the weapon used was from the Fast & Furious sting operation, which was a local screw-up, and NOT from Eric Holder.

    One border patrol agent was killed by friendly fire because fellow agents did not use standard ID signals and shot first and asked questions later.

    The figure of 70% is bruited about by local politicians and right-wing extremists, without proof.

    And, pray tell, why has Sheriff Joe Arpaio been sweeping Hispanic barrios for YEARS to roust illegal Latino immigrants. Because of their clothing or accents? Get real!

    Your comment about caucasians is sophistry, and garbled sophistry, at that.

    1. why has Sheriff Joe Arpaio been sweeping Hispanic barrios for YEARS to roust illegal Latino immigrants

      Because they're illegal. It's Sheriff's job to deal with people who have broken the law.

      Would Sheriff Arpaio behave the same way if Arizona had the same number of caucasian illegal immigrants who behaved the same way? There's no way to prove that, one way or another. But, I don't think a law-enforcement offical should apologized for enforcing the law.

    2. Simple answer for simpletons:
      Because it gets his face on TV news.

  6. Ah..., a black football player escorts a white homecoming queen across the field. Jackie Robinson was a republican. James Meredith is not a liberal. Things change with all deliberate speed.
    All is good.

  7. american, u.s. americanNovember 4, 2012 at 2:38 PM

    since this column involves the appropriate or inappropriate application of polling:

    "THE VAST majority of Irish voters want Barack Obama to win the US presidential election in less than three weeks time, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll. It shows a tiny level of support among the electorate for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
    When asked who they would support if they had a vote in the US election, 79 per cent of respondents said Obama while just 5 per cent opted for Romney and 16 per cent had no opinion."


    >>> obama is a shoe-in now with the luck of the...um... never mind, not that good a luck...

  8. american, u.s. americanNovember 4, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    but on the other hand, as a long time student of bob somerby, i know that if pres. obama is getting 37% of the overall white vote, the *americans* with irish heritage are probably only giving him like half that, 18% or so.

    but since americans with irish heritage are polled at 51% in favor of obama, the 37% figure for whites generally must be way off. pres. obama is probably getting, i dont know, 70 or 80 percent of the white vote.

    game over.


  9. Thanks for invariably showing yourself to be a humanbeing rather than a partisan pod person, Mr. Somerby!

  10. Since self-identified racists would be rare, though not non-existent, it would not be possible to determine the percentage of racism that exists among all groups with an exception for groups that exist in a demographic that is tolerant of racism, but if it was not for racism in America President Obama would win the election by a double digit landslide.

    The fact that Romney's qualifications for the presidency are dubious, at best, how can one not account for racism being one of the determining factors that has kept the presidential campaign, presumably, "too close to call."

    Podism only accounts for a small minority of those who believe racism still exists in America to an unhealthy degree. While it appears that racists are not the majority of the electorate, one cannot make a sweeping statement that it is no longer a problem in our society.

    Simply because there are exceptions to the probability that racism continues to exist in America, the fact that they are referred to as exceptions is a proof that supports the idea that racism remains a troubling fact of life. Where the 51% figure, I fear, came from was out of the professors' asses. I assert that the category of liberal cannot be used in the phrase "racist liberal," because being a racist does not find harbor among liberal principles, but can be found in some conservative "principles" such as state's rights, voter suppression, disguised poll taxes, cheating and misleading communications intended to reduce democratic voter turn out especially among the urban poor and areas of minority voter concentration.

    Is it less racist when a political party cynically uses racism as a tool of manipulation rather than its members actually having racist feelings and beliefs in their personal relationships?

    1. Are you even serious? How the fuck did Bush ever get elected, in your mind? How did he get re-elected? Christ.

      Bob's so right on this. Many of us liberals have an almost sexual need to cling to racism as an explanation of everything, even when better alternate explanations obviously exist.