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The Corner

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Bush and King



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President Bush’s attendance at Coretta Scott King’s funeral today has prompted both DeWayne Wickham and Jesse Jackson to write “yes, but” columns: Yes, it’s nice that Bush is going, but too bad he’s been so opposed in the past to King’s ideals. Both repeat the oft-cited factoid that Bush announced he was filing a brief opposing racial preferences in university admissions on Martin Luther King’s birthday (predictably, though, Jesse gets the year wrong); I say “factoid” since the timing was simply a result of a Supreme Court filing deadline and, for that matter, what better day to announce that content of character should trump color of skin? And both complain that a year later, Bush recess-appointed Charles Pickering to the court of appeals, and Pickering, Jesse tells us, was “a right-wing judge opposed to equal protection.” Nonsense. To quote just one item in a bill of contrary particulars collected by Nat Hentoff:

“In 1966, after civil-rights leader Vernon Dahmer was killed by a firebomb, Ku Klux Klan commander Sam Bowers was charged with the murder. As a county prosecutor, Judge Pickering, at considerable peril to his life, testified that Bowers had a history of violence. When Judge Pickering was subsequently defeated in a re-election bid for the state legislature, the Klan bragged it had caused his defeat.”


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