Sunday, February 17, 2002
In further researching the Pickering nomination, I came across an article by the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page. Page is urging the Senate to vote down Pickering's nomination, apparently because, once again, he's a racist. But if Pickering is a racist, then he has to address one big incident in Pickering's history that would tend to prove that he isn't a racist.
With that in mind, Pickering deserves praise for courageously testifying in 1967 against Sam Bowers, a Ku Klux Klan leader who was being tried for the firebombing death of Vernon Dahmer Sr., a civil rights leader who was helping blacks register to vote.
Pickering's testimony against Bowers cost Pickering his re-election as the local prosecutor, Medgar Evers' brother Charles Evers wrote in a Wall Street Journal piece in support of Pickering.
On the other hand, William Taylor, a Washington lawyer who served on the Washington, D-C.-based Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights at that time, pointed out that, by that time, even the white establishment of Mississippi had begun to decide that Klan violence was bad for business.
Wait a second Clarence. If the Klan was bad for business, then why was Pickering defeated in his re-election campaign? If the citizens of Mississippi were so opposed to the Klan, then he would have been re-elected. And if the Klan was losing its popularity at that time, then why are you characterizing Pickering's testimony as courageous? Certianly by your logic, Pickering's decision to testify would have been purely in his own self-interest. Nice try Clarence, but to quote a former president: "That dog won't hunt."