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Huckabee’s southern sympathies

by Brad A. Greenberg

January 22, 2008 | 4:40 pm

You don’t like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag. In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we’d tell ‘em what to do with the pole; that’s what we’d do.

Mike Huckabee, who’s been saying a lot of controversial things lately, said that to a South Carolina crowd last week, and the flag he was alluding to was the stars and bars rebel flag of the Confederacy. In an article on Slate, Christopher Hitchens ponders why the media hasn’t much mentioned the racist root of Huckabee’s statement.

But when real political racism rears its head, our easily upset media fall oddly silent. Can you guess why? Of course you can. Gov. Huckabee is the self-anointed candidate of the simple and traditional Christian folk who hate smart-ass, educated, big-city types, and if you dare to attack him for his vulgarity and stupidity and bigotry, he will accuse you of prejudice in return. What he hopes is that his neo-Confederate sickness will become subsumed into easy chatter about his recipes for fried squirrel and his other folksy populist themes. (By the way, you owe it to yourselves to watch the exciting revelations about his squirrel-grilling past; and do examine his family Christmas card while you’re at it.) But this drivel, it turns out, is all a slick cover for racist incitement, and it ought not to be given a free pass.

After paying tribute to MLK Monday, it seemed all was quickly forgiven when Huckabee was endorsed by three dozen African Americans, most connected to conservative religious groups.

In other Huck news, one of my colleagues at the CT Liveblog has a post today explaining what the man from Hope not named Bill Clinton means when he calls himself a “cosmopolitan evangelical.” (I didn’t realize Arkansas had such a big-city mentality.)

Huckabee, though quite comfortable with speaking publicly about his personal relationship with Christ, his conservative views on religious hot-button issues like gay marriage and abortion, and even God’s providential role in his Iowa win, nonetheless differs from many conservative evangelicals before him, especially those in the Religious Right.

“I’m a conservative, but I’m not mad at anybody,” Huckabee often says, and when once asked whether the Christian life was the best way of life, he answered, “Well it is for me…” but that he didn’t want to come off as “judgmental, caustic or pushy.” As David Brooks of The New York Times recently noted, “Huckabee is the first ironic evangelical on the national stage. He’s funny, campy (see his Chuck Norris fixation) and he’s not at war with modern culture.” In other words, you won’t hear Huckabee talking about his push to “take back America” anytime soon.

Frankly, I’ll be surprised if he survives Super Duper Tuesday, which is two weeks away. Then again, this presidential campaign has been nothing if not full of surprises.

(Photo: El Nuko)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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