It takes a big man to admit he was wrong.
Last night, that big man was five-foot funnyman and Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who had a little fun at Mississippi's expense last week when the news broke the state never officially ratified the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
In the bit, Stewart does what people who've never stepped a toe in Mississippi tend to do when talking about Mississippi, and lampooned the entire lot of state officials who were in charge when the Legislature ratified the amendment in 1995 -- I know, I know; we probably deserve that one -- as slavery-loving racists.
Among those officials was then-Secretary of State Dick Molpus, whose office was to oversee the handling of the official ratification paperwork. For reasons that remain unknown, the paperwork never made it to the federal archivist in Washington, D.C.
Stewart (or, more precisely, his comedy writers) implied that Molpus likely destroyed the documents -- you know, being the scheming white xenophobe that too many folks ignorantly presume every Mississippi politician to be.
But after getting a flurry of pushback from people who know Molpus, Stewart admitted last night that the show erred in using "Dick Molpus...as an avatar for racial bigotry, forgetting, perhaps that Dick Molpus is a real person with a real record on civil rights."
That record, as Stewart notes, includes apologizing in 1989 to the families of the murdered civil-rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Despite the threats he received against his life, Molpus counts the apology as among his proudest moments.
In doing so, Stewart proved himself to be a class act (it was, after all, a bad week for satirists. See: The Onion debacle). And if any good came out of the whole thing, it's that the rest of America learned a little bit about the classy Dick Molpus and about Mississippi.