By Christopher Zoukis

At the second trial, the former governor of Mississippi – Ross Barnett – interrupted a witness’s testimony.  The witness was Myrlie Evers, the wife of Medgar Evers.  Governor Barnett walked into the courtroom, looked around, and then walked over to Delay and shook his hand. 

The implication of the governor’s act was clear to everyone:  White people in the state of Mississippi were rooting for Delay.  Sam Bowers / Image courtesy kukluxklan.net

In both trials, the all-white juries refused to convict a white man for the murder of a black man.  Delay’s alibi – that police officers had seen him at a gas station back home in Greenwood right after the ambush of Evers – gave the juries the excuse they needed.  Sufficient doubt, which resulted in deadlock.  Because there was no verdict in either trial, both trials ended in mistrials. 

After the second mistrial, Delay felt doubly confident, even arrogant.  He officially joined the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which was the most violent cadre of the Klan.  The mission of the White Knights was to stop talking and start doing.  Delay became good friends with Sam Bowers, who was the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights.  Bowers wasn’t like most Klansmen, who were pretty much the missing link, ignorant, brutal Neanderthals who didn’t know shit and hated anyone who wasn’t exactly like them.  Bowers came from Southern aristocracy and had attended the University of Southern California and Tulane University.  In other words, he was educated. 

Described as thin, smart and charismatic, Bowers was also looney-tunes.  A neo-Nazi, he had a thing for swastikas.  Bowers had never been romantically connected to a woman.  He lived with his business partner.  They owned a vending machine company called Sambo Amusements.  The company’s name was indicative of their narrow-minded viewpoint.

Sam Bowers was a religious zealot – a “Swiftian,” which meant he embraced the teachings of Wesley Swift.  Swift was the founder of the Church of Jesus-Christ, Christian, which was just another brand of Christian Identity.  Swift’s church eventually became the Aryan Nations. 

Wesley Swift taught that the Bible commanded white people to protect the Honor of God.  In simpler terms, this meant killing the “enemies of God,” who were easy to spot because they didn’t have white skin.  Swift particularly despised Jews.  Since Bowers was an ardent Swiftian, he influenced the White Knights to focus their efforts against the Jews rather than the blacks. 

Bowers brought Delay into the fold of Christian Identity.  Delay loved it.  For it was just his kind of church.  A mixture of sick hate and vicious racism.

Both the KKK and especially Christian Identity couched their teachings in the garments of propaganda.  The propaganda consisted of deliberately biased information.  Information that appealed to the emotions.  Meaningless information about how Jews and other non-white races were taking over the white man’s world.  The inescapable conclusion was that white men – white warriors – needed to do something to halt this insidious onslaught of “mud people.”  The enemies of God had to be destroyed.

In this sense, KKK and Christian Identity propaganda exerted emotional pressure on members.  It was a push to action.  In other words, the KKK and Christian Identity were using their disciples as dupes.  For both organizations had agendas.  To fulfill those agendas, they had to motivate their members to embrace violent means.  Death and destruction were the means to the end.

Essentially, in one sense, Byron de la Beckwith was a pawn and a dupe.  His lack of education, his upbringing, his insular culture and his psychological make-up conspired against him.  He, along with others, responded to the emotional pressure as expected.  They became dupes, who were indirectly used by men like Wesley Swift.