On Feb. 26, Gov. Phil Bryant posted on his official Facebook page a piece from the Clarion-Ledger. The piece centers around a Southern Poverty Law Center report of active hate groups in the United States that rates Mississippi as having the third most hate groups per capita.
The report from the SPLC lists 15 recognized hate groups as being active within the state of Mississippi: seven KKK or White Knight groups, one Neo-Nazi group, three black nationalist groups, three Neo-Confederate groups and one primarily anti-LGBT group.
In the caption to his post, Gov. Bryant remarked: “There they go again. The blame-Mississippi crowd takes the report of a partisan organization that once labeled the American Family Association a hate group and treats it as news. This is FAKE NEWS and they should know it.”
The SPLC report is true. I went through the report, interacted with its handy “Hate Map” and researched each group. To call this report “fake news” only shows his unwillingness to accept any information from what he deems to be a biased, leftist organization that paints our state in a negative light.
The tone of Bryant’s reaction to this report only further paints Mississippi negatively. By posting a report on hate groups in Mississippi and crying “fake news” in his response, all he is doing is denying and defending hatred itself.
Hate groups in our state – whether he thinks they are there or not – will catch on to this kind of rhetoric from our foremost politician and only become bolder, believing themselves to be protected by his administration.
By failing to denounce hatred in our own backyard, he is failing the people of our great state and failing to provide peace of mind and security to the most vulnerable of his constituents.
Arin Kemp is a junior history major from Horn Lake.