Mississippi Tea Party candidate decries hip-hop and defends torture

A new report sheds some light on the extreme views of GOP Sen. Thad Cochran's Tea Party challenger

Published January 7, 2014 9:15PM (EST)

Chris McDaniel             (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)
Chris McDaniel (AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

According to a new report from Mother Jones, state Sen. Chris McDaniel — who is currently mounting a primary challenge to GOP incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran — previously said that increased gun crime in Canada was a consequence of the "culture" of hip-hop, and that waterboarding was effective and "fairly humane."

McDaniel's startling comments came in the service of his right-wing radio show, "Right Side Radio," which he hosted from 2004 to 2007. Mother Jones got its hand on a promotional audio clip for McDaniel's show, in which McDaniel can be heard waxing philosophic on gun crime and torture.

"The reason Canada is breaking out with brand new gun violence has nothing to do with the United States and guns," McDaniel states in the clip. "It has everything to do with a culture that is morally bankrupt. What kind of culture is that? It's called hip-hop."

McDaniel continued:

Name a redeeming quality of hip-hop. I want to know anything about hip-hop that has been good for this country. And it's not—before you get carried away—this has nothing to do with race. Because there are just as many hip-hopping White kids and Asian kids as there are hip-hopping Black kids. It's a problem of a culture that values prison more than college; a culture that values rap and destruction of community values more than it does poetry; a culture that can't stand education. It's that culture that can't get control of itself.

Beyond criticizing — in a totally non-racist way! — hip-hop, McDaniel can also be heard in the clip extolling the virtues of torture. Speaking of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (KSM), the alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States, McDaniel claimed that it was torture that got KSM to share valuable information:

He wasn't gonna talk, was he? Unless something happened. That's right, something did occur: It's called waterboarding. Waterboarding is something they do to people to make them talk. It is torture, to the liberals. It is a fairly humane form of torture, if you could classify it as such. Here's what happens: You make the guy believe he's going to drown. And as you know it's a pretty strong fear—drowning. Well this guy, Muhammad, he spoke all day. He spoke all night. Anything and everything; just let me avoid the waterboard. Because, you see, Mr. Muhammad here apparently had a problem with drowning. And that worked.

As Tim Murphy of Mother Jones notes, McDaniel is mistaken in some key respects when it comes to the story of KSM's torture. For one thing, despite McDaniel's implication that waterboarding quickly got KSM talking, the terrorist was actually waterboarded 183 times, over a span of 5 sessions. And while there's no question that repeated torture eventually got KSM talking, whether or not what he said was actually useful — or even true — remains a subject of heated (and generally partisan) debate.

Listen to the promotional clip for McDaniel's "Right Side Radio" below, via Mother Jones:

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

MORE FROM Elias Isquith