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Louisiana interracial marriage case revives southern stereotypes

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Ever wonder why jokes about the South and “rednecks” persist?

Look no further than Keith Bardwell, the Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to marry an interracial couple because he was worried about how their kids would cope. “I’m not a racist,” the judge said. He even lets black people use his bathroom, he said.

Sure, the underlying tenets of humor about the South has a bit to do with the insecurity of the North facing a virile Sunbelt economy that, up until recently, had a major influence on national and presidential politics.

But the political defeat of the Southern-based Republican party has given a little more leeway to poke fun at the South. Of course, that task is only made easier by the fact that some Southerners can’t help but step in it again and again.

The pace has only picked up after the election of President Barack Obama, whose skin color has revealed a usually hidden strain of racism that remains present in the South. (Regionalism, if not racism, seems mutual: Besides White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, an Alabamian, real down-home Southerners are a rarity in the Obama inner circle.)

This week we had the Louisiana judge who somehow had missed the last 30 years -- the US Supreme Court outlawed bans on interracial marriages in 1967 -- and refused to marry an interracial couple.

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