The NAACP has blasted Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is under fire for a joke she made about being invited to a public hanging.
Hyde-Smith, who faces a runoff election later this month against African-American Democratic candidate Mike Espy for her Senate seat, made the comment days before the general election during a Nov. 2 campaign event.
“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,” Hyde-Smith said of cattle rancher and campaign supporter Colin Hutchinson while addressing a small group of supporters in Tupelo.
A video of the moment, posted Sunday on Twitter by Lamar White Jr., publisher of The Bayou Brief in Louisiana, quickly went viral and drew the scorn of many for the senator.
“Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s shameful remarks prove once again how Trump has created a social and political climate that normalizes hateful and racist rhetoric,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. “We’ve seen this in Florida from Ron DeSantis and others during this election season and denounce it.
“Hyde-Smith’s decision to joke about ‘hanging,’ in a state known for its violent and terroristic history toward African Americans is sick,” Johnson said. “To envision this brutal and degenerate type of frame during a time when Black people, Jewish People and immigrants are still being targeted for violence by White nationalists and racists is hateful and hurtful. Any politician seeking to serve as the national voice of the people of Mississippi should know better. Her choice of words serves as an indictment of not only her lack of judgement, but her lack of empathy, and most of all lack of character.”
Hyde-Smith, appointed to replace fellow Republican Thad Cochran, who retired in April, downplayed the uproar.
“In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous,” she said in an email, USA Today reported.