White Hands

Trump continues to disappoint.

Among President Trump’s worrisome nominees to the judiciary, perhaps none is as alarming as Thomas Alvin Farr, a protégé of Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator, and a product of the modern white supremacist machine that Helms pioneered.

Farr, nominated to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, began his career as counsel for Helms’ Senate campaigns, where he participated in racist tactics to intimidate African-American voters. This alone is reason to reject his nomination, as is his apparent lying on the topic to the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Farr’s connections to Helms’ white supremacist causes and political network go much deeper.

Farr’s former law partner, Thomas Ellis, was Helms’ top deputy for decades. He also served as a director of the Nazi-inspired, pro-eugenics Pioneer Fund and used funding from that organization to create and bankroll a network of interlocking organizations to support Helms and other political candidates who espoused the notion of a superior white race and opposed civil rights.

Together, Helms, Ellis, and their protégé Farr unleashed a huge propaganda machine that incited hostility toward African-Americans. Farr served as a lead counsel to Helms’ 1990 Senate campaign, which ran the now-infamous “White Hands” television ad, designed to inflame white voter anxiety over Helms’ black opponent, Harvey Gantt. It showed a pair of white hands balling up a rejection letter while a voice said: “You needed that job and you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.” The same campaign also sent more than 100,000 intimidating postcards to North Carolinians, most of whom were blacks eligible to vote.

Farr represented the Helms campaign in 1984, when it circulated photos of his opponent, Gov. Jim Hunt, with African-American leaders in an attempt to foster white resentment. The racist nature of that campaign was so pronounced that a federal court cited it as an example of how bigotry in elections continued to flourish in North Carolina politics.

When Farr graduated from law school, Helms and Ellis brought him into their fold. Farr joined the small law firm of Maupin, Taylor & Ellis, where all of the named partners were openly hostile to civil rights.

Most recently, Farr has carried on Helms’ legacy by helping North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature create and defend in court discriminatory voting restrictions and electoral districts, which were eventually struck down by numerous federal courts that found them to be motivated by intentional racism. In fact, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that the state’s 2013 voter suppression law was aimed at blacks with “almost surgical precision.”

I couldn’t find this many white-supremacist assholes if I wanted to, but Trump seems to have no problem digging them up.