On Sept. 15, 1965, Cartha “Deke” DeLoach, a top deputy in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, sat down to detail his strange day. DeLoach had just attended a planned meeting in the office of Sen. Strom Thurmond, a staunch segregationist who left the Dixiecrat Party to become a Republican exactly a year prior to summoning DeLoach to his office. But when the FBI agent arrived, for some reason, Thurmond was not there.
Instead, Thurmond’s aides attended the meeting and delivered the senator’s message to DeLoach. Thurmond wanted the FBI to start a smear campaign against a preacher who was spreading a very anti-American message to his Atlanta congregation. FBI documents show that Thurmond’s aide told DeLoach that it was “widely understood” that the minister was “controlled by communists in this country.”
Because he was not speaking to Thurmond face-to-face, DeLoach knew he had to be careful what he said. When the aides asked, “If there was a concerted effort on the part of the FBI to discredit” the Georgia clergyman, DeLoach would only say: “[S]uch matters were beyond our jurisdiction.”
After DeLoach left Thurmond’s Senate office, he quickly typed out the memo and put it in a secret folder. Unbeknownst to Thurmond or his Senate aides, that folder contained documents showing that this smear campaign Thurmond had begun years earlier. A few weeks after Thurmond joined the GOP—a year before that meeting—DeLoach’s right-hand man, William Sullivan, wrote a letter to that same minister demanding that he commit suicide before his “filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
That minister was Martin Luther King Jr.
DeLoach, Thurmond, the FBI and most white people hated that “communist agitator” down in Georgia. But this was after the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act had both passed. Thurmond’s aides never even mentioned the civil rights movement during their meeting. So why was Thurmond so concerned with King?
Well, this was about the time when King began preaching about the military and the war. King had started talking about income inequality and economic policy. He was “injecting himself into matters of foreign policy at the United Nations,” Thurmond said, spreading his truth to the world.
No, that powerful cabal of white supremacists did not fear equality...
Their greatest enemy was truth.
On Sundays, you can find Georgia Senate candidate Raphael Warnock preaching from the same pulpit at the same church that King co-pastored when the FBI implored him to kill himself. As the current pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Warnock preaches the same message. And, like King, Rev. Warnock scares white people.
Well...now he does.
That’s why—like they once did to King, conservatives, Republicans and other synonyms for “white supremacists” are starting to ramp up a campaign to discredit Warnock by branding him a “radical.” Warnock is now as “anti-American” as Thurmond said King was. Warnock is now a scoundrel.
Congratulations, Warnock, racists hate you now.
Warnock’s opponent in the Georgia Senate race, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), recently called Warnock “despicable, disgusting, and wrong” for telling his parishioners that “nobody can serve God and the military. You can’t serve God and money. You cannot serve God and mammon at the same time.”
That’s right, Loeffler’s calling a preacher out for explaining a Bible verse. To be fair, it is also possible that Loeffler never read Matthew 6:24 or even heard of the Ten Commandments because “Thou shall have no other gods before me” is like the first one!
Apparently, Loeffler doesn’t believe in repenting for sins because we know that, for at least a little while, America was kinda racist. Again, while I’d like to credit Warnock with saying something groundbreaking, every single person in the audience is probably waiting for him to tell them something new.
And Tuesday, the National Review, the official newsletter for white supremacy, characterized Warnock as a “radical” because he once signed a letter from Black ministers calling on Israel to treat Palestinians like human beings. Comparing Warnock to another “radical” minister, the National Review writes:
But in 2014, Warnock was still defending [Rev. Jeremiah Wright] and praising Wright’s “God Damn America” sermon. “You ought to go back and see if you can find and read, as I have, the entire sermon. It was a very fine sermon,” Warnock said in a 2014 speech.
Very fine? The sermon in question was chock-full of anti-American rhetoric and conspiracy theories.
In the 2003 “God Damn America” sermon that Warnock called “very fine,” Wright likened America to al-Qaeda: “We cannot see how what we are doing is the same thing that al-Qaeda is doing under a different color flag — calling on the name of a different God to sanction and approve our murder and our mayhem!”
In the sermon that Warnock called “very fine,” Wright suggested the U.S. government distributed illegal drugs in America’s cities: “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ Naw, naw, naw. Not God Bless America. God Damn America!”
Where is the lie?
Most Black people would argue that Wright’s sermon didn’t even contain “rhetoric.” He’s just saying stuff that happened. Republicans constantly argue that America is a Christian nation and use God as their excuse for stripping women of reproductive rights, sending Black people to the electric chair and forcing the country to pray away the coronavirus. Didn’t we just confirm a handmaid to the Supreme Court under that very argument? Haven’t we specifically proven that the government pushed crack cocaine into Black neighborhoods?
Where is the “theory” part of Wright’s conspiracy theories?
This is why the majority of white America disliked Martin Luther King Jr. before he died. Loeffler would have probably despised him the same way Thurmond did. It’s why they hate Nikole Hannah-Jones for terrorizing the country with history. It’s why the Trump administration ignores facts, science and is now waging a multistate war against election officials who count in sequential order.
Loeffler and the rest of her ilk know what they are doing. Demonizing Warnock is the only way to keep control of the Senate, and keeping control of the upper chamber is the only way Republicans can stop the next administration from doing scary things like reforming the courts, making the criminal justice system fair and eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy. It is interesting that Rev. Warnock’s words are more “disgusting and offensive” to these people than an actual white supremacist.
Here’s a complete list of all the times Loeffler has condemned Donald Trump’s lies, racist statements and attacks on America:
- Never ever
- Not one damn time.
Warnock didn’t use to be like this. Before he transformed himself into an evil Democratic candidate, white people loved Rev. Warnock—even though he has always fought for criminal justice reform and voting rights. He was soft and cuddly back when the public had to go to church to hear him speak the truth.
In fact, if you want to see how “offensive” Warnock was back then, here is a clip of him with Sen. Johnny Isakson, the Georgia Republican whose seat Loeffler won by appointment. Isakson’s last appearance was at Ebenezer Baptist Church. And what was he there to talk to his “friend” Warnock about?
Supporting the military.
Radical, isn’t it?
To be fair, I once thought Warnock was a “radical,” too. I thought it was radical that J.B. Smoove would give up a coveted role on Curb Your Enthusiasm to become a politician.
But if Rev. Raphael Warnock is a left-wing extremist, perhaps all Black people are radicals. Perhaps it is radical to believe that our lives matter or that America should stop being so goddamned racist. Maybe the idea that the Christian God would even condemn racism is crazy.
But, if that were true, Kelly Loeffler and the entire Republican Party would be in deep trouble, Donald Trump would be in jail and Raphael Warnock would already be Georgia’s senator-elect. Until then, Warnock should continue being an enemy of white supremacy.
Or, as Black people always say: “Tell the truth and shame Kelly Loeffler.”
And, Lord willing, may God damn her soul.