Posted by: Dave | February 17, 2011

Thank God for Mississippi


     When I was a kid growing up in Alabama, we had a saying: “Thank God for Mississippi.”  The saying was popular because no matter how bad things were in Alabama, in Mississippi it was always worse.

       We would usually repeat the saying after reading about one of the many yardsticks that are used to compare states in measurements of progress, such as education, average salaries, or say, health.  In virtually every measurement taken during that time, Alabama always ranked near the bottom, except for, you guessed it: Mississippi.

       For instance: Number of high school graduates per capita: Alabama: 49th; Mississippi: 50th.  Number of homes with indoor plumbing: Alabama: 49th; Mississippi: 50th. Average number of teeth at age 40: Alabama 49th, Mississippi: 50th. You get the idea.  Without Mississippi, Alabamians would have no one to pick on.

      Now members of Mississippi’s Sons of the Confederacy want to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War by honoring General Nathan Bedford Forrest with a license plate. Forrest was a genius of a Confederate general, but he also has the unfortunate baggage of having made a fortune as a plantation owner and slave trader, and may have led a massacre of black union troops at Fort Willow. He is also notorious for playing a large role in the founding of the Ku Klux Klan. (I’m giving him the benefit of doubt about the massacre and the Klan.  Historians debate whether the massacre was actually a massacre,  and many believe he founded the Klan, but the Klan was secret, so nobody knows for sure.)

      So the State of Mississippi, which really is a genteel place despite the heat and humidity, is once again seeing its good name splashed across the front pages of newspapers and websites all across the nation and being linked to the civil war, and of course, racism and ignorance.

      Alabamians, of course, have their own embarrassment to deal with, that being the story of the Alabama fan that is so irate with Auburn beating the Tide and then (heaven forbid) winning the National Championship that he poisoned two venerable oak trees that have been symbols of Auburn pride and spirit for over 130 years.

     Where in this country can college football be so important that an angry fan would perform such an act of destruction and hate?  Well, Alabama, of course. Pretty embarrassing for the state.

    But not nearly as embarrassing as wanting to honor General Nathan Bedford Forrest with a state license plate.  Oh, and one more historical footnote: Nathan Bedford Forrest is from Tennessee.

    Well, you know what they say in Alabama:  “Thank God for Mississippi!”

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