While much of the American public’s attention has been focused on the evils of
Milosovich and his efforts at ethnic cleansing, America’s home grown fascists and
their enablers have gotten a free ride. To their ever-increasing discredit, congressional
Republicans have used every scheme and manipulation they can muster to deter a
congressional condemnation of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC).
You remember them. The CCC, formed in 1985, is the heir of the 1950’s Citizens
Councils of America — popularly known as the White Citizens Councils — that were
created to resist the civil rights revolution in the South. The CCC opposes
“race-mixing,” thinks the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts should be
repealed, and advocates eugenics-based solutions to the “race problem.” More
important than their racist rhetoric are the direct ties of Council members to groups such
as the Invisible Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the National Association for the Advancement
of White People, the neo-Nazi National Alliance, and other right-wing extremist groups.
The CCC has international ties to racist and fascist groups as well as local ones. Mark
Cotterill, the head of their youth division, is originally from Britain and was active
with the neo-fascists British National Front. Last Fall, the CCC sent a delegation of its
leadership to a meeting in France sponsored by Jean Marie Le Pen and his National Front.
During the impeachment hearings, it was revealed that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott
and Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA), as well as other elected Republicans, such as Mississippi Gov.
Kirk Fordice, had spoken before gatherings of the CCC. The Washington Post reported that
that Lott contributes a regular column to Citizen Informer, the racist-sprouting newspaper
of the Council. After a wave of negative media, the Republicans fell all over themselves
publicly to distance themselves from the CCC.
It should be mentioned that the Democratic Party was also embarrassed when it was
revealed that a number of state and locally-elected Democrats were active members of the
Apologies from Republican leaders were pretty tepid, however, and lack sincerity. In
response, Reps. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and James Clyburn (D-SC) fashioned a resolution
calling for the condemnation of the CCC. The resolution was driven by the fact that the
CCC went from obscurity to national attention because of its high-profile and strategic
links to Republican leaders. As Wexler and Clyburn recognized, high-profile exposure
deserves a high-profile rebuke. Congress itself had already set a precedent when it
condemned the bigoted remarks of then-Nation of Islam leader Khalid Muhammad in 1994. The
vote against Muhammad was 97-0 in the Senate and 361-34 in the House.
Given the repugnance of the Council’s views, Lott and company should want to do
everything possible to discredit the CCC and all that it stands for, and rescind the
legitimacy of conservatism that their presence gave. In fact, the truth is that there is a
confluence of ideas between Lott, Barr, Pat Buchanan, and other Republicans leaders with
the views of the Council.
Republicans got cold feet, claimed that the Democrats were seeking to further embarrass
Lott and others, and blocked a vote on the resolution. This, of course, led to the
Republicans embarrassing themselves. Then, they cynically put forth a resolution decrying
“all those who practice or promote racism,” a declaration that failed to get the
three-fourths votes needed to pass.
The Council has never been shy about its history or the promotion of its white
supremacist views. Either Lott, who spoke on a number of occasions before the group, and
others are extremely dim-witted or extremely dishonest, or both. The Southern Poverty Law
Center documents more than 500 hate groups in the United States, an increase from 474 in
1997. While many of these groups wear hoods and sport swatiskas, others enjoy photo ops
with national policy-makers.
Clarence Lusane, Ph.D. "Chance Favors the Prepared" American University
School of International Service (202) 885-1674