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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Ready For Primetime?

I mentioned it in an update below, but this story may be headed for the mainstream. Nathan Newman found it, Atrios is flogging it:

It's become a mantra of the defenders of Charles Pickering that he "courageously" testified against a Klan leader back in the 1960s.

But this involved a town where WHITES were being attacked by the Klan as a series of bombings threatened the white establishment. And it was interlaced with violent labor struggle in the primary employer. See this article:...

OK, the article is from Feb 27, 2002, the last go-round with the Pickering brawl. If it was ignored then, there may be a reason. The final Senate commite vote was not until March 15, so timing was not the issue.

So, here we are. I don't have the impression that the source is totally objective, but it is a great starting point.

UPDATE: Here is the totally non-partisan Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on the same issue. Well, it seems that Republicans are making hay of this.

UPDATE 2: When in doubt, check Byron York on Pickering:

According to a letter written on Pickering's behalf by Charles Evers, brother of murdered civil-rights activist Medgar Evers, "In 1967, many locally elected prosecutors in Mississippi looked the other way when faced with allegations of violence against African-Americans and those who supported our struggle for equal treatment under the law. Judge Pickering was a locally elected prosecutor who took the stand that year and testified in the criminal trial against the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who was accused of firebombing a civil rights activist. Judge Pickering later lost his bid for reelection because he dared to defy the Klan, but he gained my respect and the respect of many others as a man who stands up for what is right."

The Klan case, although 35 years ago, stands out in many memories. "Pickering is not perfect — no one is — but he has courage," Johnny Magee, a black city councilman in Laurel, Mississippi, recently told Legal Times. "He was involved as a county prosecutor in fighting against the Ku Klux Klan and helped put Klansmen behind bars. That was something you just didn't do in Jones County in the 1960s."

UPDATE 3: OK, now I am stuck. How many trials was Bowers of the Klan in back in 1967? From this bio, he was tried in 1967 in the "Mississippi Burning" trial for the murder of three civil rights workers, and surely you remember Gene Hackman. Testifying in that trial would have been a big deal. But York, above, mentions "the criminal trial against the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who was accused of firebombing a civil rights activist".

Hmm. If I were boosting Pickering, I would surely have made a point of the "Mississippi Burning" trial. OTOH, how could one trial be dangerous and polarizing, and the other not? Presumably we should be checking the Dahmer trial, a firebombing-turned-murder which led to four trials in the 60's. Dates don't seem to match, though. Now I need help.

Regardless, the central theme of this criticism of Pickering seems to be "attacking the Klan took no guts". I am unconvinced.

MORE: How do you like this "stream of consciousness" blogging? If we can believe the socialists, Pickering testified in the Dahmer trial.

CHARLES EVERS: OK, I am saving a Charles Evers chat room transcript here. Evers switched to the Republican party in 1989. Interesting. Here, CLARENCE PAGE comments on Pickering.

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