COMMENTARY | The spotlight is on Mississippi and Alabama for the wrong reason.
The Republican presidential race rolls through the Deep South today with contests in both states. A Public Policy Polling poll surveyed likely Republican voters in both last weekend, but the bombshell results have nothing to do with the primaries.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, 45 percent of likely Republican voters in today's Alabama primary and 52 percent of likely Republican Mississippi voters believe President Barack Obama is Muslim.
That's not the worst of it.
The poll asked voters about interracial marriage. If 21 percent of Alabama voters had their way, it would be illegal. It was worse in Mississippi, with 29 percent saying it should be against the law.
What are they teaching in these states? Did they skip over the Civil Rights movement in history class? Did they forget about all those marches in the 1960s? The Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967, striking down laws against anti-miscegenation laws? The 1957 Brown v. Board of Education case, declaring "separate but equal," the single worst legal idea in American history, unconstitutional?
This finding is so incredibly backward it boggles the mind. According to 2010 Census data, our nation is more diverse than ever, with Hispanics accounting for more than half of our nation's growth in the last decade, and the number of self-reported interracial Americans almost doubled. A recent Pew Research Center survey found more people in interracial marriages than ever before.
What is wrong in Alabama and Mississippi that so many self-identified Republicans are so blatantly racist? The good news is this belief is a minority view. Neither state registers voters by political party, so we can only guess at how widespread these out-of-touch beliefs are. But the fact 126 out of 600 likely Alabama Republican voters and 190 out of 656 likely Mississippi Republican voters think we should go back to the days when you could get arrested for loving someone with the wrong color skin is abhorrent.
On a day when we should be talking about the primaries in Mississippi and Alabama, news outlets all over the country are talking about this. Way to step into the national spotlight, guys. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
- President Barack Obama