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Racism’s Enablers


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repealed, and advocates eugenics-based solutions to the “race problem.”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

group.

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

 

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