It is really easy to fall into the trap of trashing Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm after her recent barb at Mississippi.
According to the Gongwer News Service, Granholm was defending tax increases this week when she said, “Now is the time to stand up for those priorities. What we’re fighting for is Michigan not becoming Mississippi.”
Let’s throw the stats at her. … Mississippi has the 33rd lowest unemployment rate in the country at 9.5 percent while Michigan has the highest at 15.2 percent, according to the August statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Shame on you Governor Granholm,” Mississippi’s State Senator Dean Kirby, a Republican who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, wrote in an e-mail. “Have you compared your tax structure to that of Mississippi? Have you ever been to Mississippi? Shame, shame shame !!”
Shame, Shame, Shame !!!!!
OK, now let’s take a look at the real issue here — perception.
We still have a perception problem. Folks around the country view us as uneducated and backwoods.
We know that’s not true.
But it wasn’t so long ago that New York’s Charles Rangel made similar comments that enraged us all. Instead of firing back, we must do a better job of educating folks about our wonderful slice of the South.
It should be pointed out that whatever music Granholm listens to likely was born in Mississippi.
She should be reminded that every major form of music in America got its roots in Mississippi – from Elvis Presley and rock n roll in Tupelo to country and western in Meridian to blues and jazz in the Mississippi Delta.
Gov. Granholm should be reminded of the great literature and writers who have come from Mississippi – from Faulkner to Welty.
We also would like to point out the great journalism tradition that we have in Mississippi ranging from Pulitzer winners of the 1940s with the Delta Democrat Times to a 2006 Pulitzer winner in the Sun Herald of Biloxi.
Mississippi is a wonderful place, and we would like the opportunity to show everyone what we are talking about.
Many of us in Mississippi have visited Michigan and been treated wonderfully. We would like to show Gov. Granholm the type of hospitality we can extend.
Certainly, Gov. Granholm would not have made the insensitive comments she has against Mississippi if she had spent any significant time here.
Having said all of that, there are plenty of reasons that Mississippi isn’t always at the top of the popularity list.
We all know the reasons — education, racial tensions etc…
While we are right to defend ourselves against the ignorance of the Rangels and Granholms of the world, we must be honest with ourselves.
We have a long way to go, and people like Granholm and Rangel wouldn’t have made the comments they made if there we didn’t have a problem with perception.