Gov. reacts to SNL skit

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BENNINGTON — Vermont's status as the second whitest state in the union made it the target of a Saturday Night Live skit about a neo-Confederate group looking for a new home — a bit of comedy that's drawn a more serious response from Gov. Phil Scott.

In the skit, "Jim," one of the leaders of a group called the "League of the South," played by SNL cast member Beck Bennett, argues that the time has come for the group to leave the South. "It's been over a year since we neo-Confederates marched on Charlottesville, and things haven't gotten better," he says. "More foreigners coming in, more strangers who don't respect our way of life. We're losing our culture, and I will not sit quietly."

"I have a plan, a grand vision," he says. "If they're going to keep coming here, then we're going to go someplace else. Our own place. For our own people! No immigrants, no minorities, An agrarian community where everyone lives in harmony. Because every single person is white."

A group member, played by episode host Adam Driver, raises his hand. "Yeah, I know that place. That sounds like Vermont," he says, to laughter from the studio audience.

"Vermont? No, sir. What I'm talking about is a place purely for Caucasians. Where even the folks who wash the dishes and pick the fruit are white," Jim responds.

"Oh, yeah, that's Vermont," Driver says.

He goes on to describe Vermont as a place with covered bridges, country stores and farmers' markets. At one point, another cast member, Aidy Bryant, exclaims that Vermont sounds like "a Caucasian paradise."

Near the end of the skit, a black security guard named William, played by Chris Redd, enters to tell the group that they need to end their "little Confederate pity party" and make way for an AA meeting. Asked if he's ever been to Vermont, William replies, "Vermont? Why would I want to go there? There's no hip hop on the radio, people paying to run around in corn mazes, not a black face for miles hell, no."

Once William has left the room, Jim shouts, "Ok, well, it's settled — we're going to Vermont!"

Scott offered his perspective on the skit to the Banner. "While I believe and respect the skit was meant in jest, I know this topic hits home - particularly in Bennington at this particular moment," he said, in an apparent reference to the resignation of former state Rep. Kiah Morris, who has been the target of racial harassment.

"It's incumbent upon us, as Vermonters, to continue to tout all Vermont has to offer, and continue to be a leader in inclusivity and tolerance, even as we recognize the need to increase diversity within the state," Scott said. "We want people to know Vermont is a welcoming place, it's the safest, healthiest state in the nation and a great place to live.

"We're actively working to attract more people of all backgrounds to our great state, and I believe we'll continue to see more diversity in our communities."

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