Things Change

By Christopher Zoukis

In his book, Hoskins introduced the concept of the Phineas Priesthood, which was that “lone warriors” or vigilantes would appear in history every so often.  These warrior-priests were sent by God to punish “race traitors.”  This punishment was necessary to protect the honor of God and His chosen people, who were, of course, white.  

As Hoskins made very clear in his book, the Phineas Priesthood was an exclusive clergy.  The only way in was by annihilating the enemies of God.  God’s enemies were defined as blacks, race-mixers, Jews, homosexuals, and abortionists.  Any white supremacist who destroyed these enemies was automatically ordained into the Phineas Priesthood.

The book went on to provide historical examples of such lone-warriors:  John Wilkes Booth, the Waffen SS, the Ku Klux Klan and The Order, which was also known as The Silent Brotherhood.  According to Hoskins, the common dominant trait of these men was a passion to excel – to protect the Honor of God.  And in doing so, they had espoused the doctrine of the Phineas Priesthood.  A doctrine understood by a chosen few.  Image courtesy amazon.com

Obviously, Delay had read Hoskins’ book, because he now claimed – after the fact – that in murdering Medgar Evers, he had been functioning as a Phineas Priest.  In other words, Medgar Evers' death was God’s Will. And when Delay – acting as a Phineas Priest – killed Evers, he was removing one of God’s enemies.  Anyway, that’s what Delay wanted people to think.  In reality, it was nothing more than a lame and abject attempt to justify murder. 

Delay and Hoskins were kindred souls and began corresponding with each other.             

Hoskins published a regular newsletter called “The Hoskins Report.”  Supposedly, the newsletter provided financial and investment advice.  In reality, it trumpeted racist propaganda.  In a 1991 issue of the newsletter, Hoskins printed a letter he had received from Delay, who was still famous in white supremacist circles.  At the end of the letter, Delay had written “Phineas for president!”

The letter would come back to haunt Delay.

Mississippi had changed since 1963.  Things were different.  African-Americans no longer sat in the back of the bus or drank from separate drinking fountains.  Segregation was a relic of the past.  There were no more all-white juries that looked the other way.  A new generation of prosecutors with new attitudes began reviewing old cases in which there had been a miscarriage of justice.  One of those cases was the murder of Medgar Evers.

The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi, published a series of articles detailing how the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission – which no longer existed – had helped in screening potential jurors in the 1964 trials of Byron de la Beckwith.  Back in 1964, the Sovereignty Commission was rabidly pro-segregation and believed in the Great White Way, which meant no white man should ever be put on trial for the murder of a black man.

The articles caused a scandal.  Most of Southern society was outraged.  And public opinion demanded justice.  The case was reopened and an investigation was begun.  Some whites didn’t want to open that can of worms again.  They didn’t want to air once again Mississippi’s dirty laundry to the national media.  Delay told a reporter, “Country-club Mississippi is tired of this crap the Jews, n******, and Orientals are stirring up.”   

Delay was arrested and – for a third time – charged with the murder of Medgar Evers.  His bail was set at $100,000.  A “stranger” gave him $12,000 so he could get out of jail.  It later came out that the stranger was a Jewish lawyer named Harry Rosenthal.  As Maryanne Vollers wrote in Ghosts of Mississippi, Rosenthal “said he couldn’t stand to see Beckwith’s rights violated.”  Even though he hated Jews, Delay took the money.

Rosenthal – and a lot of other legal experts – believed Delay’s right to a speedy trial was being violated.  And, that since Delay’s indictment had been open and on the books from 1964 to 1969, he could have been retried during that period, while his previous lawyers were alive and well, memories were fresh, and witnesses were at hand.  But the state had failed to do so. 

In essence, the issue was whether Delay could be tried again or not.  The matter was placed before the Mississippi Supreme Court.  Most of the legal experts and most of the media felt the case against Delay would be dismissed.  Delay would get off scot-free again.

Delay’s luck finally ran out.