Posts Tagged ‘Race’

Thompson’s animus attack on Barbour

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Congressman Bennie Thompson criticized former Governor Haley Barbour’s recent opinion piece in USA Today. Barbour wrote about racial changes in the South and Mississippi and bragged on Mississippi.

In Thompson’s response in today’s Clarion Ledger, he took several shots at Barbour. I thought I’d mention a few of them.

Thompson wrote:

Even after the [Voting Rights Act] was approved in 1965, white politicians in our state have used redistricting to deny blacks the opportunity to hold office.

I’m sure in the past fifty years that has been true. Most of that time, those “white politicians” were Democrats. But if we’re talking about how things have changed, we can look at last year when under Republican leadership, redistricting was used to increase the number of majority black Senate districts from 12 seats to 15 seats.

Thompson wrote:

In addition, not one of the black elected officials he raves about is a Republican, nor did he endorse any of them for municipal, county, state or federal office.

Yvonne Brown, the former black Republican mayor of Tchula, ran against Bennie Thompson. He might not want to remember her. Haley Barbour supported her. In Mississippi, Barbour supported a black Republican in a primary against a white Republican. I could make a list of black Republicans supported by Barbour for office in Mississippi (some others beside Brown who have run against Thompson).

Part of Thompson’s point is well taken. Speaking as a Republican, we need more black Republicans elected in Mississippi. And if Thompson’s claim is true, that no currently elected blacks in Mississippi are Republican (and I think he is right), then likely that is the reason Barbour did not endorse them. Not because they’re black; but because they’re not Republicans. I wouldn’t expect Congressman Thompson to go around endorsing white Republicans either. Heck, just this year in Canton and Jackson, Thompson attacked black Democrats because he thought Republicans were supporting them. So following Thompson’s political moves, if Barbour had endorsed a black Democrat for office, Thompson likely would have used that to attack that black Democrat.

Thompson wrote:

I do, however, recall the then-governor’s support for Judge Charles Pickering’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit — a move opposed by every major civil rights organization and ultimately rejected by the U.S. Senate.

Actually, the “then-governor” who supported Pickering’s nomination was Democrat Ronnie Musgrove. Barbour had not yet been elected.  I also recall that civil rights activist Charles Evers, brother of slain NAACP leader Medgar Evers, also supported Judge Charles Pickering’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit (Evers challenged Thompson to discuss which of them had been involved in civil rights work longer). Others, including then chairman of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus Philip West (later mayor of Natchez) also came out to support Pickering. I won’t go into a list of Pickering supporters, or the behind the scenes intrigue involving Thompson (it is in Pickering’s book: A Price Too High) who at one point, according to the book, said he could support Pickering but “he needed something.” Also, the U.S. Senate never rejected the nomination; it refused to vote on it despite Pickering’s majority support (Democrats filibustered consideration).

Thompson closed his response writing:

There is a public record that does not lend itself to revisionism.

Truth. Thompson also has a public record which includes radio commercials in Democratic Primaries saying things like, “Now the Republicans have hand-picked candidates in every race. They can’t win out-right, so they picked people who look like US to run” and “When I see Republicans from Rankin and Madison County supporting the other so-called Democrat in this race, I know that something is fishy.”

Barbour closed his piece by writing:

Political change in Mississippi and the South has been ubiquitous, and everyone is better off for it. Yet we must admit that that doesn’t mean there are no racial problems or no racism. To expect there will never be any racial discrimination in the South or anywhere else is unrealistic. And racial animus can cut both ways.


Mike Wallace’s interview with Judge Charles Pickering

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

When I heard Mike Wallace passed away last weekend, I thought back to the pleasure I had to meet and work with him in 2004. He did a segment with Judge Charles Pickering, Sr. for 60 Minutes and I was working for Pickering’s son, then Congressman Chip Pickering. Working with Wallace was personally and professionally a rewarding experience. I wrote about Wallace and his interview with Pickering in this week’s column in the Madison County Journal: Perry / Mike Wallace’s Mississippi story

Judge Pickering dedicated a chapter to the Mike Wallace interview in his 2007 book, “A Price Too High: The Judiciary in Jeopardy.”

You can find some excerpts from the interview here.

Below are a few pictures from the interview day.

Mike Wallace with Margaret Ann Pickering & Charles Pickering

Mike Wallace with Margaret Ann Pickering & Charles Pickering

Mike Wallace and Charles Pickering by the pond on Pickering\'s Jones County farm

Mike Wallace and Charles Pickering by the pond on Pickering's Jones County farm

Mike Wallace in full enjoyment of making \"good tv\" while reporting the news

Mike Wallace in full enjoyment of making good tv while reporting the news

Mike Wallace interviews Congressman Chip Pickering

Mike Wallace interviews Congressman Chip Pickering

Mike Wallace begins his interview with Judge Charles W. Pickering, Sr.

Mike Wallace begins his interview with Judge Charles W. Pickering, Sr.

1967 Klan Bombing in Belhaven

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

In politics you don’t get much idle reading time, but the past few nights before going to bed I’ve been reading “Terror in the Night: The Klan’s Campaign Against the Jews” (1993) by Jack Nelson, a Pulitzer winning journalist for The Los Angeles Times. The book follows the efforts of the FBI and Mississippi law enforcement in finding and stopping - by any means necessary - a Klan cell directed by Sam Bowers engaged in bombing a Jackson and a Meridian synagogue, as well as the home of a Jackson rabbi (among other dastardly deeds). I picked it up at the recommendation of my friend Jeff Perkins.

If you read about the fight against racial terrorism in the Mississippi 1960s, you begin to get familiar with certain areas: Laurel, McComb, Philadelphia, Meridian; but I had not before read about the bombing in my own neighborhood…just a few blocks down the street at a house I’ve driven by hundreds of times.

From the book:

A layman engaged in religious work with poor people in Jackson, Robert Kochtitzky was active in civil rights. He had worked with Nussbaum and Reverend Johnson on the Committee of Concern. He had urged his minister, Reverend Warren Hamby of the Galloway Memorial Methodist Church, to speak out against racial violence. And he had been credited in news accounts with originating the idea of the “walk of penance” after the Temple Beth Israel bombing. His wife, Kay, worked with Ken Dean at the Council on Human Relations. The Kochtitzkys had occasionally had blacks as houseguests. There had also been a report, unfounded but widely disseminated in a White Citizens Council publication, that the Kochtitzky house on Poplar Street had been the site of a meeting between Stokely Carmichael, the civil rights leader, and Robert Kennedy when Kennedy was attorney general of the United States.

In hindsight, Kochtitzky also concluded that because of his name the Klan may have concluded, mistakenly, that he was Jewish.

On the night of November 19, Kochtitzky and Reverend John Adams, a Methodist minister from Washington who was staying with him, returned home after a meeting and sat in the living room talking until about 11:00 P.M. Mrs. Kochtitzky and her six-month-old son were also in the house.

Minutes after the two men went to bed, a powerful bomb exploded on the front porch of the two-story house. It tore away the porch, ripped through the front wall, shredded the couch on which they had been sitting. The blast shattered windows in the baby’s room, showering his crib with shards of glass; miraculously, the child was unhurt, as were the three adults.

The bombing at 1704 Poplar Boulevard was on November 19, 1967.

On November 20, The Clarion Ledger reported, “Bombing Here Puzzle To Enforcement Men.” [I have corrected some of the typos from the newspaper.]

The latest victim is Robert B. Kochtitzky, whose two-story frame house on a tree-shaded Jackson street was heavily damaged by a dynamite blast late Saturday night…. Kochtitzky said Sunday he had received “no threats, no letters, no phone calls” to alert him that an attack might be planned, but had noticed some suspicious men sitting across the street in a car several times during the summer. Kochtitzky, in an interview, attributed the bombing to “the attitude my wife and I have on race - our attitude toward Negroes as human beings is basically the issue.” His wife, the former Kay Hagerty, is a former reporter for the Jackson Daily News. He said, however, that he had not been active in civil rights work, although he did take part in interracial religious affairs. “At the time of all the (civil rights) activity a few years ago I was either chicken or decided it was discreet not to be involved,” he said. He has lived in Jackson since 1940….Sunday, Kochtitzky found a sign that said, “Keep The Faith, Baby.” The Rev. Mr. Adams posted it over a board covering part of the damage.

As the Kochtitzky family picked through the damage that Sunday morning, their pastor, the Rev. Warren C. Hamby, senior minister of Galloway Memorial Methodist Church visited with them. Later that day he addressed the situation from the pulpit and the message was printed in the Clarion Ledger on Tuesday, “Minister Calls For Justice in Bombing.” Here is the message:

In the early hours of this morning I stood at the corner of St. Mary Street and Poplar Boulevard in this city in front of the residence of Bob and Kay Kochtitzky and their infant son, John, horrified and incensed as I viewed the destruction of this dwelling and the apparent danger to their lives wrought by the explosion of a large bomb planted there earlier in the night.

I was approached by a news reporter from a local television station, who learning who I was and sensing my agitation by what had happened, invited me to make a statement. I declined on the judgment that an unprepared statement in the white heat of emotion would not likely serve any constructive end.

I should now like to make my statement. I do not propose to speak for anyone else on the staff of this church, I do not propose to speak for the Official Board, I do not propose to speak for the congregation. I speak for Warren Hamby. I speak with an awareness of the hypocrisy of thinking that to issue a statement is the adequate discharge of responsibility. I speak from the pulpit that has been entrusted to me with the sacred obligation of maintaining its integrity in the proclamation of the Christian gospel. I speak with the full awareness that many of you will perhaps be disturbed that I elect to do so. I speak because of the greater disturbance of my own conscience should I fail to do so. I speak in the hope that so speaking I will contribute to some constructive action on the part of this congregation, its official leadership and its professional staff. Action that will redeem such a statement from the hypocrisy of assuming that in so speaking we have fulfilled our responsibilities. I offer this statement in an awareness of the truth once spoken by the great emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, when he said: “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

The news reporter asked me, what Mr. Kochtitzky done to prompt this kind of violence? It was a fair question, but at the time I declined to answer. I now attempt to answer. What had he done? He had kept the integrity of Christian witness as a sensitive Christian in a society not yet willing to such a witness. He had taken seriously the convictions that were imparted to him by the teachings of the church school and the witness of the pulpit of this church. He had dared go beyond the respectable acquiescence of the polite forms of Christianity that so often characterize the poor witness of most of us.

The truth of this is so profound that it turns the question around so that it becomes, not what has he done, but what have we done to prompt this kind of violence? The act was perpetrated by paranoiac cowards who would by their dastardly deeds of violence keep alive the fear that has spawned their breed and offered them not only silence and sanctuary for their deeds but a mandate to continue them under the illusion of public approbation.

Let us not, however, draw a small circle of guilt, for we are all indicted. The so called decent and responsible people of our city, state and section are the Sauls at whose feet lie the clothes of the whole affair (along with numerous repetitions of it in recent weeks.) Upon our consciences the whole matter must rest. Justice Brandeis once said: “The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.”

Who is to blame? Every pulpit where justice and mercy and goodwill have not been enough proclaimed; every alleged Christian who has thought more of his or her prejudices than of seeking the will of God and the spirit of Jesus Christ in attitude and behavior; every newspaper that has defended indefensible positions and voiced its own prejudices; the responsible elected officials of city and state who have been more concerned with expediency than integrity- here, my friends, is the accumulated and collective guilt that is ours.

I have said this poorly and inadequately. I have no desire to be dramatic or controversial. I wish only to defy the cowards who will otherwise rule us by the fear of a return to barbarism. I wish only to vicariously and publicly identify with the principle which they would destroy.

To Bob and Kay Kochtitzky (and the many others who in recent weeks have been victims of similar acts - among them a Jewish rabbi and his congregation in this city, and a Methodist minister and his family in the city of Laurel) I offer my personal support and prayers. I offer thanks to God that no personal physical injury has been the result of any of these acts. I call upon the people of this congregation, the citizens of this city and state to rise up in determined resolution that the perpetrators of these crimes be sought out and brought to justice. I do so ‘in meekness and fear’ but with all the responsibility of my office.”

That message was printed in Tuesday’s paper. Tuesday night the bombers struck again, destroying much of Dr. Perry Nussbaum’s home at 3410 Old Canton Road. And the violence by that Klan cell continued.

I thought it appropriate that I finished this book Sunday night, the same night we learned of the death of Osama Bin Laden. I recalled the words of Governor Haley Barbour when he spoke at the 40th anniversary commemoration of the civil rights murders in Neshoba County on June 20, 2004.

Barbour compared the sacrifice of our soldiers fighting terrorism overseas to the sacrifice made by the slain civil rights workers in Philadelphia; and he compared the “extreme hateful intolerance” during those days of segregation to “today’s evil of fanatical Islamic terrorism.”

He said:

History taught us that sin and evil must be recognized, confronted and confessed before redemption can be achieved. We know that when evil is done it is a complicit sin to ignore it, to pretend it didn’t happen even if it happened 40 years ago. You have to face up to your problems before you can solve them.

We must stand for the proposition that intolerance is intolerable. We must not limit ourselves to opposing murder or terrorism or other obvious evil. Let’s commit ourselves today to rooting out the small intolerances too. Especially those in our own mind, words and deeds. When we disagree, let it be agreeably. Let us learn to tolerate opposing views even if we work to uphold in our own lives the values and standards we claim to cherish. For those of us that are Christians, let us try to obey Jesus’ commandment that we should love our neighbors even as he loved us. If we do that evil will find this a very poor place to take root and to do its damage.

The lessons from the civil rights struggle in Mississippi can teach us not only about our past - sometimes in our own neighborhood - but also perspective on the current fight against terrorists and murderers around the world. I recommend the book and without spoiling the ending, I’ll share that in the midst of shootings and bombings, there are many stories of redemption including one you might not expect.

RR: Ike Brown violates Voting Rights Act

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Ike Brown is a political boss in Noxubee County who violated the Voting Rights Act, a ruling affirmed by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The irony is, he is black and violated the voting rights of white Democrats. You can read the details in my column this week, but here are some excerpts that describe his activities.

The Fifth Circuit decision provides entertaining reading into the mechanics of a Mississippi political boss, including his control over precinct operations. At the West Macon precinct, the poll manager called Brown to tell him his ballots were being challenged and then announced, “Ain’t no ballots being challenged. I was instructed by Ike not to - can’t no ballots be challenged.”

At the Brooksville precinct, testimony showed that Brown “inspected the absentee ballots the night before the runoff and placed yellow post-it notes on select ballots that he wished to be rejected…The next day, Brown told the poll managers ‘I’ve already went through these absentee ballots and I put y’all’s stick-on stickers on the ballots that I want rejected and the rest of them is all right to count.” The ballots of white voters were rejected as deficient, while ballots of black voters meeting the same criteria were counted.

The Court noted Brown published a list of 174 white Democratic voters he intended to challenge if they attempted to vote in the Democratic Primary. And in 1995 Brown “urged voters to ‘Keep Hope Alive [and] Vote Black in ‘95′ in an open letter to Noxubee County voters.” As Chairman of the Noxubee Democratic Executive Committee, he “voiced the opinion that all of the county’s elected officials should be black” and accused whites of racism (without evidence) to drum up support of his candidates.

The Court concluded Brown and his fellow defendants engaged in a “pattern of episodic behavior intended to deny white voters equal participation in the political process.” After an initial ruling, Brown pledged to reform, but the Court discovered he was up to his old tricks. Brown told one federal observer, “I don’t care what the court says. I am still primarily responsible for running this election.”

You can read the full column online at the Neshoba Democrat: Perry / Ike Brown’s racism.

You can read the ruling from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals here, courtesy of Y’all Politics.  Sid Salter discussed Ike Brown today in his column as well: 5th U.S. Circuit Court: Ike Brown violated white voters’ rights.

UPDATE: Here is a piece on this issue from National Review Online by Heritage Foundation visiting legal scholar Hans A. von Spakovsky, a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission and counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice: A Leadership of Cowards? Why is Eric Holder embarrassed about enforcing civil rights in Noxubee County?

RR: Playing the race card

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

At the end of this month, members of the Republican National Committee (the Chairman, National Committeeman, and National Committeewoman from each state), will meet to elect a the chairman of the Republican National Committee. There are several candidates for the seat including the incumbent Mike Duncan, Former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, former Tennessee Republican Chairman Chip Saltsman, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, Katon Dawson of South Carolina, Saul Anuzis of Michigan, and others. I wrote about how the race turned nasty this week in Reasonably Right. Here are a few excerpts:

On March 19, 2007, the Los Angeles Times published a column titled “Obama the ‘Magic Negro’” by David Ehrenstein, a writer on Hollywood and politics, who is black. Ehrenstein wrote, “The Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture…there to assuage white ‘guilt’ (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history…Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help…. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn’t project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him.”

The column wound up in Rush Limbaugh’s “stack of stuff” and conservative satirist Paul Shanklin composed a parody to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Shanklin performed it in the style of Al Sharpton equipped with a bullhorn: “Barack the Magic Negro lives in D.C.; The L.A. Times, they called him that; ‘Cause he’s not authentic like me. Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper; Said he makes guilty whites feel good; They’ll vote for him, and not for me; ‘Cause he’s not from the hood. See, real black men, like Snoop Dog,; Or me, or Farrakhan; Have talked the talk, and walked the walk.; Not come in late and won! Oh, Barack the Magic Negro, lives in D.C.; The L.A. Times, they called him that; ‘Cause he’s black, but not authentically. Some say Barack’s ‘articulate’; And bright and new and ‘clean’; The media sure loves this guy; A white interloper’s dream!”

The song ridiculed blacks who questioned Obama’s “authenticity” and whites who need a black trophy friend to prove their non-racism. He quoted now Vice President Elect Joe Biden for the “articulate” and “clean” remarks, but the rest simply paraphrased Ehrenstein’s column.

Former Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chip Saltsman gets the joke. As part of his campaign for Republican National Chairman, he bought a copy of the CD for every member of the Republican National Committee. Saltsman is a grassroots guy. A Rush Limbaugh Republican. A non-establishment type, he ran Mike Huckabee’s campaign for president and publically opposed his own Republican governor’s tax hikes in Tennessee.

Washington Republicans know how to play the race card against other Republicans. Mike Duncan, a banker from Kentucky who was George W. Bush’s pick to run the Republican National Committee in 2007 is seeking reelection. Under his leadership, Republicans lost the White House, Senate seats, House seats, and gubernatorial seats. Now this CD (and possibly Saltsman’s momentum) has Duncan “shocked and appalled.” He condemned Saltsman and created a national story on Republican racial insensitivity.

Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, one of two candidates for chairman in the race who are black, said his “concerns are minimal” and blamed “hypersensitivity in the press.” He disagreed with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who said this should disqualify Saltsman from contention.

Saltsman buys a CD of political satire promoted on the Rush Limbaugh Show. One track on the CD satirizes a column written by a black man that criticizes whites who demean Barack Obama. For this, RNC Chairman Duncan attacks him, and the press is happy to spread the news.

Saltsman is likely thinking, with Republicans like this, who needs Democrats?

You can read the full column at the Madison County Journal: Perry/Playing the race card

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