Another off-hand remark becomes a dog whistle in a yet-to-be-decided Senate race

Another off-hand remark becomes a dog whistle in a yet-to-be-decided Senate race
Mike Espy, Cindy Hyde-Smith (Image via Reuters file photos)

There was no “monkey business” this time, but there was the same old same old. A white Republican tossed out an off-hand remark that was instantly inserted into the dog whistle machine where it tested positive for racism.

The locale this time is Mississippi, where a special election runoff election has been scheduled for Nov. 27. The polls show Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith is way ahead of Democrat Mike Espy, a former congressman and U.S. agriculture secretary.

But a video has surfaced that shows Hyde-Smith praising a supporter by saying, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Suddenly, according to Reuters, the campaign of Espy — who is black— has received a “jolt of adrenaline … fueling Democratic hopes of an upset in a conservative state with an ugly history of racist violence.”

The comment set off a furor in Mississippi, a state scarred by a history of racism and violence against blacks, including lynching. According to the NAACP civil rights group, Mississippi had 581 lynchings between 1882 and 1968, more than any other state.

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Advocacy groups conducting a voter turnout drive aimed primarily at African-Americans, who make up 38 percent of the state’s residents, said their efforts had gained new urgency.

Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the black Democratic mayor of Jackson, the state’s largest city, is quoted as saying, “If people recognize the importance of this moment, there is an opportunity for Secretary Espy to win this race. If we can show progress in a state with such historic suffering, then what does it say about the future?”

The importance of this moment? It sounds as though the mayor sees the remark for what it is, which is to say a poorly chosen metaphor, but is more interested in capitalizing on its racist import than winning the election on her candidate’s merits.

The comment has prompted Walmart to request a refund of the $2,000 donation it made to Hyde-Smith’s campaign, tweeting:

The Left never misses a chance to revive the images of slavery and Jim Crow when it will score them style points. This only serves to hold back racial healing.

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LU Staff

LU Staff

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