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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

The only thing rigged is Dan Bishop's interpretation of history

Dan Bishop, the Republican candidate for North Carolina attorney general, says the trial of former President Donald Trump was rigged. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson, in his "On My Mind" commentary, calls the comparison Bishop made a new low.

I try not to think about Dan Bishop, in the same way I try not to think about how, being over 50, I have a good chance of getting shingles.

At least there’s a vaccine for shingles. There appears to be no vaccine for Dan Bishop.

As WFAE’s Steve Harrison reported, Bishop — Mecklenburg County’s own — was on WBT radio the other day, talking about the recent conviction of Donald Trump on 34 felony counts related to hush money he paid a porn star. Bishop said Trump’s prosecution was politically motivated and the trial, where 12 jurors accepted by both sides rendered a unanimous verdict, was unfair. Rigged, even.

Remember, Bishop is campaigning to be North Carolina’s attorney general.

But for Bishop, just saying the trial was unfair wasn’t enough. He then said this:

“It’s as bad as it was in Alabama in 1950 if a person happened to be Black in order to get justice. That’s what they did in New York. It was fundamentally rigged. And the people who attack me for saying so can attack all they want.”

Dan, buddy, I’m gonna take you up on that.

Even for somebody who has spent his political career limboing under the bar of decency, this is a new low.

Let’s just briefly take a look at what justice was really like for a Black person in Alabama in 1950.

There were no Black judges in Alabama in 1950 — hadn’t been any since Reconstruction. No Black police chiefs or sheriffs, either. Jim Crow laws made it nearly impossible for a Black person to serve on a jury.

And remember: This was five years before Rosa Parks was arrested on a Montgomery bus for not giving up her seat to a white passenger. It was 11 years before attackers burned a Freedom Riders bus in Anniston. It was 13 years before the Klan bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and killed four little girls inside.

Maybe the arc of the moral universe does bend toward justice. But white people in Alabama — and the rest of the South — did their damnedest in the 1950s and beyond to bend it back the other way.

This is the experience that Dan Bishop does not consider as bad as what happened to the millionaire ex-president with expensive lawyers and a judge who bent backward to keep from throwing Trump in jail for contempt.

Dan Bishop is guilty of contempt, too. His crime is not legal, but moral. His words show contempt not only for our legal system but for the millions of Black Southerners of the ‘50s who suffered in ways people like him can’t imagine.

Let’s close with a thought experiment: Assume Dan Bishop could either have the life of Donald Trump right now, or have the life of a random Black citizen of Alabama, awaiting trial in 1950.

Which one do you think he’d pick?

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.