Nearly six decades ago, as a student at the University of Mississippi, I was an eyewitness to an insurrection somewhat similar to what we saw on January 6 at the US Capitol. In 1962, hundreds of racists and segregationists in the Deep South were incited by Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett – aided by the incendiary exhortations of a cashiered right-wing Army general, Edwin Walker – to come to our campus and defend the institution against integration by one black man, James Meredith.
The riot was started by a handful of students taunting and throwing rocks at a force of US marshals, but the disorder was quickly taken over by several thousand adult outsiders, a devil’s brew of Ku Klux Klansmen, political extremists and “good ole boys” seeking a bit of excitement. They never penetrated their goal – the Lyceum, the school’s antebellum administration building – but they had it under siege for hours.
After being finally driven off campus by thousands of US troops sent by President Kennedy the mob left behind two dead, hundreds injured and a couple of hundred under arrest. The incident branded my alma mater with a stigma that the school spent years trying to erase.
For his role in stoking his rowdy followers into another ugly insurrection on January 6, Donald Trump deserves to be saddled with a lasting stigma, a recognition by history that he was another dangerous demagogue who somehow claimed the nation’s highest office and spent four years disgracing the nation with his moral corruption and ending his term in utter madness.