West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has come under a firestorm of criticism after he made an insensitive comment towards former President Barack Obama. The Governor said that all presidents are welcomed in the Mountain State, before adding, “maybe not Barack Obama.”
This of course was a particularly negative thing to say considering the current state of race relations in our country. To say that the only African American President in United States history is the only President not welcome in our state demonstrates a real lack of awareness.
While his most ardent supporters and Republican stalwart followers said he was just in saying this, citing “Obama’s desire to hurt the coal industry”, most West Virginians saw this as a blatantly wrong thing to say at the complete wrong time.
Justice later tried to explain what he said, saying on Channel 3 Charleston, “Well, it’s not a joke from this standpoint. I hate to say it but the Obama/Biden Presidency and everything devastated West Virginia. And especially southern West Virginia. And then, Hillary Clinton kind of chimed in and before you know it West Virginia was brought to our knees and everything and I hate that, I hated that so badly and everything because the good people of West Virginia – we suffered beyond belief.
When I walked in the door, you can say what you want but this was a bankrupt state, and everything and there was no where to turn. So I can get really excited about that. You know, I want to love everybody and everything and you know, I mean, that about loving everybody — President Obama — everybody but what happened to West Virginia will take us decades and decades to recover. And maybe never, maybe never. Ways of life are just gone, so it was really devastating. It was really hurtful.”
Although Justice and other Republicans are welcome to disagree on politics and policies, this is not the time to make anyone, particularly African Americans, feel unwelcome in our state. With this said, Governor Justice should do the right thing and invite former President Barack Obama to our wonderful state immediately.
This is a perfect opportunity to show that being good to one another – regardless of the color of your skin or your political beliefs – is far more important than anything else. Justice extending an olive branch to Obama would not only be good for our state, it would be a tremendous opportunity to show real leadership during a very difficult time.
Governor Justice, it’s time to be a a real leader, put politics aside and do what’s good for the state of West Virginia and its people.