Magnolia state: Sorry we made you feel like dogwood

On behalf of the citizens of North Carolina, I offer a humble apology to the people of Mississippi.

Our governor, Bev Perdue, did not intend to incite border passions when, in a flash of anger, she insulted your whole state and the many good people contained therein.

She was actually scolding us for passing the marriage amendment, which she opposed, when she spat out the words, “It makes us look like Mississippi.”

As you know, we look nothing like Mississippi.

Our unemployment rate is higher by nearly a point. At 57 cents a gallon, our gas tax is 20 cents higher than yours. Mississippi comes in at No. 17 on the Tax Foundation’s ranking for favorable state business taxes. We’re No. 44.

You have the river known as the Mighty Mississippi; we’ve got the Pee Dee.

What our governor meant to say was that North Carolina has long tried to be a progressive, enlightened force among our Southern neighbors, with whom we would like to dwell in perpetual harmony (except, of course, the villainous South Carolina, which keeps stealing our tire plants with tax perks and other sultry seductions, and the barbarous Georgia, which keeps pilfering movie projects from us by offering even bigger boatloads of incentives than we do).

Gov. Perdue is proud of her state (and by “proud,” we don’t mean “snobby” like Virginia). We have always made sacrifices to ensure a leading statewide educational system with respected public universities, at least until recently when support was slashed to the point that it makes us look like California.

Please understand that we are thinking hard about our image these days because of world-wide attention we’re getting for the big Democratic political thing. Of course, we know the John Edwards trial won’t last forever.

Mississippi has every right to feel indignant about slurs from elsewhere. We are sorry it was said. That’s not the way we operate here. We know better than to make fun of others when they don’t deserve it.

Anyway, please cut her a break and forgive her in your hearts. You have to remember, she’s from Raleigh.

Washburn: 704-358-5007 mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com

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