Republicans run away from the Council of Conservative Citizens (again)

Oh noes! The “big story” today in the media is that a White Supremacist Donated to 2016 G.O.P. Campaigns. I’m not sure exactly how this is news. White supremacists have been donating to Republican candidates for decades. The organization in question used to be a big effin’ deal back in the day, and conservative candidates openly sought its endorsement. Reporters act surprised, like a baby when it first discovers its navel. Doesn’t anyone know their American history?

From the New York Times:

dylann-roof1-1The leader of a white supremacist group [Earl Holt III, president of the Council of Conservative Citizens] that apparently influenced Dylann Roof, the suspect in the killing of nine African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church last week, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns, including those of 2016 presidential contenders such as Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Rand Paul, records show.

Mr. Cruz, a Texas senator, said Sunday night that he would be returning about $8,500 in donations that he had received from the Texas donor, Earl Holt III, who lists himself as president of the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Mr. Paul’s campaign said it planned to send $2,250 received from Mr. Holt to a victims’ fund set up in the wake of the shooting.

The Guardian first reported on Mr. Holt’s donations to the Republican contenders.

A manifesto that appeared on a website registered to Mr. Roof said that the manifesto’s author had first learned of “brutal black-on-white murders” from the Council of Conservative Citizens’ website.

* * *

The group is regarded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a leading authority on hate crimes, as a white supremacist extremist organization that opposes “race mixing” as a religious affront and that vilifies blacks as an inferior race.

* * *

Mr. Holt, who identified himself in some donation records as a Texas “slumlord,” has also given money to a number of other current and former Republican members of Congress, including Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, former Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Representative Steve King of Iowa, and former Representative Todd Akin of Missouri.

Flake’s press secretary said Monday the senator is donating his $1,000 to the fund set up in Charleston to help the shooting victims’ families. Flake among GOP recipients of donations from white supremacist.

For those of you who are old enough and/or are veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, you know who these guys are.

Following the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson, and ordering the desegregation of public schools “with all deliberate speed,” Southern segregationists formed  White Citizens’ Councils known as  the Citizens’ Councils of America. Unlike the Ku Klux Klan, the WCC met openly and was seen as “pursuing the agenda of the Klan with the demeanor of the Rotary Club.” Many leading state and local politicians were members of the Councils:

[T]he groups were founded primarily to oppose racial integration of schools, but they also supported segregation of public facilities during the 1950s and 1960s. Members used severe intimidation tactics including economic boycotts, firing people from jobs, propaganda, and occasionally violence against civil-rights activists.

By the 1970s, following passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s and enforcement of constitutional rights by the federal government, the influence of the Councils had waned considerably. The successor organization to the White Citizens’ Councils is the Council of Conservative Citizens, founded in 1985.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has the history of the Council of Conservative Citizens (snippet):

Most Americans learned of the CCC in late 1998, when a scandal erupted over prominent Southern politicians’ ties to the brazenly racist group. After it was revealed that former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.) gave the keynote speech at the CCC’s 1998 national convention and that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had spoken to the group five times, both claimed they knew nothing about the CCC. However, an Intelligence Report investigation, publicized by national television and newspaper reports, made clear what the CCC really was: a hate group that routinely denigrated blacks as “genetically inferior,” complained about “Jewish power brokers,” called LGBT people “perverted sodomites,” accused immigrants of turning America into a “slimy brown mass of glop,” and named Lester Maddox, the now-deceased, ax handle-wielding, arch-segregationist former governor of Georgia, “Patriot of the Century.”

As evidence of widespread association between Southern GOP officeholders and the CCC mounted, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson took the unusual step in 1998 of asking party members to resign from the group because of its racist views. A resolution moved through the U.S. Congress “condemning the racism and bigotry espoused by the Council of Conservative Citizens,” although it ultimately failed. (Congress had earlier condemned the black supremacist Nation of Islam in a similar manner, but failed to do the same with the CCC. Republican Party leaders, likely embarrassed by Lott’s very public connection to the CCC, managed to defeat the censure effort.)

But six years later, many Southern lawmakers were still pandering to and meeting with the CCC — and still pleading ignorance. According to a 2004 Intelligence Report review of the Citizens Informer, no fewer than 38 federal, state and local elected officials had attended CCC events between 2000 and 2004, most of them giving speeches to local chapters of the hate group. 

Since the 1998/1999 scandal stripped much of the remaining varnish off the CCC’s mainstream pretensions, the extremist views expressed on its website and in its newspaper have become increasingly crude.

* * *

CCC meetings have rarely featured politicians as speakers since the 2004 Intelligence Report exposé that exposed the fact that dozens of GOP politicians (and one Democrat) had been speaking at the group’s events despite GOP chief Jim Nicholson’s warnings in 1998. But a few have continued to associate with the CCC. In 2005, George Wallace Jr., the son of the late segregationist Alabama governor who was then an Alabama Public Service commissioner, spoke at the group’s summer conference. In June 2008, another Alabama politician, state Sen. Charles Bishop (R-Jasper), addressed the group. Bishop’s speech appealed to the assembled CCC crowd, particularly when he denounced the idea that Southern states should apologize for having sanctioned slavery. Bishop said that “atonement equals reparations” — meaning that apologies would surely be greeted by demands for financial payback by black Americans. Bishop received a standing ovation from the audience and he and his wife posed for pictures with members afterwards.

And in 2009 Republican Mississippi State Sen. Lydia Chassaniol spoke to the group. She gave a rabble-rousing speech on “Cultural Heritage in Mississippi.” In a brief history of the state since 1540, Chassaniol complained that the U.S. was in decline, as evidenced by tributes to Michael Jackson, a “pedophile who’s being celebrated.” She indicated that the government wants to “take from those who have and give to those who don’t want to work for it.” And she worried that the 2010 national census might hand over government “to the radical left.” Chassaniol confirmed to the Southern Poverty Law Center that she is a member of the CCC, which she described as a “conservative organization.”

This is recent history. It’s not like Republican candidates — or reporters for that matter — should not know who the Council of Conservative Citizens is and know its histroy of racism.

2 responses to “Republicans run away from the Council of Conservative Citizens (again)

  1. captain*arizona

    sounds like a main stream republican to me! I want to know the republican partys position on removing the confederate flag. Also each republican candidates position.