The twisted tale of Ben Carson’s increasingly bizarre presidential campaign just keeps getting weirder. Last night, Donald Trump embarked on a ninety minute rant in which he acted out the “stabbing story” which Carson insists on telling in order to give credence to the “anguished youth who found redemption through the love of Jesus Christ” narrative and compared Carson to a “child molester.” The very next day, it was announced that Ben Carson had appointed a known racist and segregationist to be his Mississippi state chair – former judge Charles W. Pickering.
Pickering abandoned the Democratic Party in 1964 when they began pushing for an end to segregation, declaring that the Democratic Party’s decision to fight for the Civil Rights Act an insult to the people of Mississippi, who “were heaped with humiliation and embarrassment at the Democratic Convention. And this has convinced [him] beyond a doubt that Mississippians do not now and will not in the future have any useful place in the National Democratic Party.”
He actively worked to undermine desegregation efforts and used investigation commissions into the Ku Klux Klan to investigate civil rights activists instead. His former law partner was J. Carroll Gartin, who later became lieutenant governor and was a “devoted segregationist.” Salon reports that in a 1967 statement, Pickering wrote that he “wanted to preserve ‘our southern way of life,’ and he bitterly blamed civil rights workers for stirring up ‘turmoil and racial hatred’ in the South.” Pickering’s most notable case involved a trial of three KKK cross-burners, during which he pressured the prosecutors to drop the charges of hate crime and reduce the sentences of those involved, successfully trimming their sentences from the Congress-mandated five years to two and a half.
So it is very perplexing that Carson would appoint such a man to run his Mississippi state chair. It is a clear sign that Ben Carson has no intention of fighting for the rights of African-Americans and joins the chorus of FOX News and other purveyors of institutionalized racism decrying the Black Lives Matter movement as “sickening.” Perhaps, in his efforts to trivialize the modern’s day civil rights movement, Carson wanted someone with extensive experience fighting against it the first time.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.