OT: Jerry Kirksey

Please tell me Jerry Kirksey did not just write a column in which he reduces the integration of Ole Miss to an amusing bon mot (light on the bon) about how hotheaded liberal kids do the darnedest things, and manages to imply that his support as an 18-year-old for the civil rights movement was merely a vestigial reminder of his intellectually misspent youth - by turns a mild regret to be viewed bemusedly as the political stupidity of his post-adolescence and telling proof that if he had truly had is heart and mind on God he would have … what? Supported segregation? I guess there’s some sardonic irony in the fact that an anecdote intended to show just how wise and sagacious the author has become with age and experience actually demonstrates the embarrassing impercipience of a 65-year-old man for whom the civil rights movement was most meaningful because … well, let’s see … Les Beasley taught him that sometimes it’s more important to save a few bucks on bus repairs than to upset the racist yokelry by visibly supporting one of the most important moral and political movements of the twentieth century. Sure, Kirksey was trying to have a little fun with this column … he revels in playing the part of sg’s clever Uncle Remus, and he can be a pretty decent storyteller, as I’ve noted before. What’s objectionable here is not his attempt to entertain but his morally tone-deaf choice of subject matter. When you start to look back on your life, to sum up and plot points of significance in your education as an adult, as Kirksey said he’s begun to do, and this is the kind of thing you come up with, it makes me wonder if Kirksey doesn’t need to go read his son’s (now) seven-part installment on anti-intellectualism and mindlessness that threatens to bankrupt contemporary evangelicalism. And by the way … it was 1962.

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