Mississippi Lawmaker Apologizes After Lynching Remark
After backlash, State Rep. Karl Oliver finally issues an apology.
The Mississippi lawmaker recommended lynching New Orleans’ leaders over the weekend. This comes in response to several Confederate monuments being dismantled in the past month. Despite instantaneous backlash, it took until Monday, under pressure from colleagues, for him to apologize.
In a Facebook post, Rep. Karl Oliver (R), a Republican went so far as to compare the actions of officials to Nazis.
“The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific. If the, and I use this term extremely loosely, “leadership” of Louisiana wishes to, in a Nazi-ish fashion, burn books or destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY, they should be LYNCHED! Let it be known, I will do all in my power to prevent this from happening in our State.”
Politicians from Mississippi were quick to respond.
“Rep. Oliver’s language is unacceptable and has no place in civil discourse,” Gov. Phil Bryant, also a Republican, said about Oliver’s Facebook post.
Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn said of his colleagues posts, “They do not reflect the views of the Republican Party, the leadership of the House of Representatives or the House as a whole. Using the word lynched is inappropriate and offensive.”
The apology: too little too late?
In a written statement issued late Monday morning, the legislator apologized.
“I, first and foremost, wish to extend this apology for any embarrassment I have caused to both my colleagues and fellow Mississippians. In an effort to express my passion for preserving all historical monuments, I acknowledge the word ‘lynched’ was wrong. I am very sorry. It is in no way, ever, an appropriate term. I deeply regret that I chose this word, and I do not condone the actions I referenced, nor do I believe them in my heart. I freely admit my choice of words was horribly wrong, and I humbly ask your forgiveness.”
He also removed the offensive post. However, others seem unimpressed.
Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes of Gulfport, chairwoman of the state Legislative Black Caucus, said an apology from Oliver “is not enough.”
“Although lynching may not be the mindset of all the members of the Legislature, the support for maintaining Confederate monuments, the state flag, etc. exemplifies there is a mindset of continuing the daunting negative symbolism of Mississippi’s past,” Williams-Barnes said. “If these comments are truly not the mindset of the body, then change the flag!”
House and Senate Democratic caucus chairmen Rep. David Baria and Sen. Bill Stone issued a joint statement calling Oliver’s remarks “repugnant.”
“The use of such inflammatory rhetoric in the context of public discourse is repugnant and does damage to the considerable advances that have been made in healing the wounds caused by state-supported racism of the past,” the statement said. “In 2017, no elected official in the state of Mississippi should be speaking in this manner regardless of any strongly held opinions concerning Confederate statues.”