Chickasaw County involuntarily joined an undistinguished list

Chickasaw County involuntarily joined an undistinguished list late Monday of sites across the South at which acts of racial hatred, violence or harassment have been committed this year and in late 1995.

Somebody (perhaps several people) with a sick mind and no conscience burned a large cross late Monday at the residence of Chickasaw County 1st District Supervisor Thomas Guido. Guido, elected last November, is one of the first two African-Americans to serve on the county’s governing board.

The burning of crosses almost always has some link to the Ku Klux Klan, its adherents, or its imitators. The Klan stands as the vilest racist organization in American history. It was started by a former Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest, notorious for his hateful, backward racial views. Those who follow in his footsteps whether by conviction or formal affiliation with one of dozens of Klan off-shoots harbor the irrational, wrong-headed belief that burning crosses represents both Christian faith and American patriotism. It stands for neither and, in fact, mocks both.

Guido was not at home when the cross was burned, but his family was. The Guido family watched, like thousands of others over the decades, as the cowardly cross-burners hid under cover of darkness and did their repugnant deed. The cross-burning at Guido’s home becomes the latest of more than a dozen race- or hate-motivated crimes, threats, and acts of violence across the South this year.

Monday night’s cross-burning surely appalls and angers every fair-minded, right-thinking Chickasaw countian. Those citizens who understand the destructive effects of race hatred must have one mind about identifying those who burned the cross and changing the attitudes that could foster other such incidents.

Racial hatred, race-related violence, and polarization controlled too much of Mississippi’s history. No county or community benefits from resurrecting hatred. Nothing justifies what happened to the Thomas Guido family Monday night.

Federal investigators already are involved in the case. Their participation often is helpful in investigating racist incidents. Their resources cross state lines and could make links to groups or individuals outside Mississippi that might have been involved. We hope Chickasaw County authorities use fully their federal connections.

Organizations and acts linked to racism, religious bigotry or other hatreds aren’t confined to Mississippi or the South. The majority of hate organizations and clearly identified acts related to race and ethnic bias happened outside the South during 1995.

The cross-burning Monday night happened in Chickasaw County, Northeast Mississippi. That makes it immediately more important for us in this region than citing what happened anywhere else.