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  Center Report Exposes Links Between Hate Group, Lawmakers

Sen. Trent Lott
(AP/Wide World Photos)
In 1998, an Intelligence Project expos´┐Ż uncovered the white supremacist views of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a hate group with 15,000 members that routinely denigrated blacks as "genetically inferior," complained about "Jewish power brokers," and accused immigrants of turning America into a "slimy brown mass of glop."

The investigation revealed that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi had spoken to the group five times, once telling its members they "stand for the right principles and the right philosophy."

Embarrassed conservatives immediately denounced the group. Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan's former speechwriter, said that anyone associated with a group like the CCC "doesn't belong in a leadership position in America." As evidence of widespread association between Southern GOP officeholders and the CCC mounted, Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson took the unusual step of asking party members to resign from the group because of its "racist views."

Scores of Southern lawmakers have ignored Nicholson's advice to distance themselves from the racist CCC, according to a new Intelligence Project report.

Since 2000, no fewer than 38 federal, state and local elected officials who are still in office today have attended CCC events, most of them giving speeches to local chapters of the hate group. Another 38 former elected officials and candidates for office have addressed CCC chapters during the past four years.

Of the current 38 office-holders who've attended CCC events, 26 are state lawmakers — most of them, 23, from Lott's home state of Mississippi.

No lawmakers reprimanded
Though the vast majority of these politicians are Republicans — 23 of the 26 current state lawmakers — the Republican National Committee, so forthright five years ago, now declines to condemn the CCC.

But Jim Herring, state Republican chairman for Mississippi, is eager to put some distance between the party and the hate group. Without mentioning the CCC by name, Herring said that the Mississippi GOP would "denounce any group that holds racist views." No member of either party has been sanctioned or reprimanded for maintaining ties to the Council.

The CCC still wields a big political stick in Mississippi, where it claims some 5,000 members. Such leaders as Mississippi's governor, Haley Barbour, and the presiding justice of the state Supreme Court, Kay Cobb, have spoken at CCC events.

During the 2003 Mississippi gubernatorial campaign, the CCC website ran a photograph of Republican candidate Barbour posing with Council luminaries at the Black Hawk Barbecue, a CCC fundraiser for private school buses.

When the photo caused a stir, Barbour was quick to call the CCC's segregationist views "indefensible." But he refused to ask that his picture be taken down from the website. It was a matter of principle, Barbour, who went on to win, explained.

"Once you start down the slippery slope of saying, 'That person can't be for me,' then where do you stop?" he asked. "Old segregationists? Former Ku Klux Klan?"

That politicians would consider consorting with the CCC today is particularly worrying as the group is even more extreme than it was five years ago.

This spring, national officer Sam Dickson, an attorney, represented the Council at neo-Nazi David Duke's prison-release party in New Orleans. Along with leaders of America's neo-Nazi and Holocaust-denial movements, Dickson signed Duke's "New Orleans Protocol," pledging to work with other hate groups to achieve their collective dream of a white America.

  September 2004
Volume 34, Number 3
Youth Hate Spreads
Mix It Up Encourages Activism
Racist Changed by Lawsuit
College Outreach Produces Results
Lawmakers' CCC Links Exposed
Intelligence Briefs
Inmates Guaranteed Health Care
Law Students Motivated by Center Work
Kit's Songs Inspire Hope
Civil Rights Kit Updated
Friends of the Center Provide Reliable Support
Exhibit Includes Center
Grant Helps Students Respect Differences
In Memoriam