SHOULD CONGRESS CONDEMN THE COUNCIL OF
March 15, 1999
On February 2, 1999, Reps. James E. Clyburn of
South Carolina and Robert Wexler of Florida introduced House Resolution
35, "condemning the racism and bigotry of the Council of Conservative
Citizens." To date, more than 100 congressmen have joined Reps.
Clyburn and Wexler in cosponsoring H. Res. 35. Almost all of the
cosponsors are Democrats, as are Reps. Clyburn and Wexler themselves.
The resolution is currently in the Judiciary Committee and has
been referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution.
H. Res. 35 is an extremely flawed piece of legislation.
Not only are many of the accusations it launches against the Council
of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) factually untrue but also the
very concept of the measure is inappropriate to the Congress of
the United States and repugnant to a free society. It appears
to be unprecedented for the U.S. Congress to "condemn" an entire
organization of some 15,000 members that has broken no law, advocated
no violent or illegal act, and expressed no disloyalty to the
H. RES. 35 IS INAPPROPRIATE LEGISLATION FOR CONGRESS
A press release issued by Mr. Clyburn when the resolution
was introduced stated that H. Res. 35 is "modeled on the 1994 resolution
condemning the 'Racist, anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic speech given
by Khalid Abdul Muhammed of the Nation of Islam at Kean College'
in 1993." In that speech, however, Khalid Muhammed, at that time
a spokesman for the Nation of Islam, called for the mass murder
of white people by blacks in South Africa. Speaking at Kean College
in Union, New Jersey, on November 29, 1993, Mr. Muhammed stated:
We kill the women. We kill the babies. We kill
the blind. We kill the cripples. We kill them all.... When you
get through killing them all, go to the godddamn graveyard and
dig up the grave and kill them a-goddamn-gain because they didn't
die hard enough.
No one has ever claimed that anyone associated
with the CofCC has ever made a statement of such brutality and
violence as that of Khalid Muhammed. However "offensive" and however
"eccentric" some ideas expressed by some members of the CofCC
may seem to some people, there is no similarity whatsoever between
them and the call to commit genocide that Mr. Muhammed issued.
Even so, as brutal and violent as the remarks
of Khalid Muhammed are, it is not the business of the U.S. Congress
to condemn him for uttering them. If Khalid Muhammed violated
a law by making his speech, he should be prosecuted by the appropriate
authorities. If he did not violate a law, there is every reason
for individual congressmen and public opinion to condemn him.
But when the U.S. Congress officially condemns an individual or
an organization for the legal expression of political, religious,
racial, or other views it holds, the result can only be a chilling
effect on freedom of expression and freedom of political activity
for everyone and the establishment of a precedent for future legislation
that may reach well beyond mere verbal "condemnation."
If the Congress can move from condemning Khalid
Muhammed for expressing "racist, anti-Catholic, and anti-Semitic"
sentiments to condemning the CofCC for espousing "racism and bigotry,"
whom will it condemn next? Pro-lifers whose rhetoric is said by
some (including some many who condemn the CofCC) to encourage
the bombing of abortion clinics and the murder of abortionists?
Opponents of homosexuality whose rhetoric is said by some (including
some who condemn the CofCC) to encourage the murder of homosexuals?
Opponents of U.S. involvement in foreign wars whose ideas are
said by some to extend to sympathy for foreign tyrannical regimes?
In contemporary America there is an almost endless
list of groups, causes, and individuals who give voice to ideas
and views that are "eccentric," "extreme," "insensitive," "offensive,"
unpopular, or merely unusual in the culture created by the political
and media establishment. When in the whole of American history
has the United States Congress taken upon itself the responsibility
of "condemning" such groups? Where, if the Congress starts condemning
them now, will such action end? And why, if it is proper for Congress
to police the ideas and opinions of private groups and organizations,
has it not long since voted to condemn the views expressed by
such organizations as the Communist Party, the Ku Klux Klan, the
Nation of Islam itself, or any number of other extremist causes?
H. RES. 35 MAKES FALSE AND IRRESPONSIBLE ACCUSATIONS
But not only is the very concept of H. Res. 35 flawed
from the perspective of the constitutional ideals of American society.
Many of the charges the resolution hurls against the CofCC are simply
false, the result of careless examination of what the CofCC actually
advocates and supports and of a politically driven desire to attack
and discredit all conservative causes in general and the Republican
Party in particular.
(1) The resolution states, "Whereas the Council
of Conservative Citizens is an outgrowth of the segregationalist
[sic] 'White Citizens Council', commonly known as the White-Collar
Klan, which helped to enforce segregation in the 1950s and 1960s...."
The accurate name of the organization mentioned
was not the "White Citizens Council" but simply the "Citizens
Councils of America," nor was it "commonly known" as the "White
Collar Klan." It was perhaps called that by its enemies, but neither
it nor the present CofCC had or has any connection with the Ku
Klux Klan. While we cannot speak for the old Citizens Councils
of America, we can confidently state that no members of the CofCC
are members of the Ku Klux Klan.
In any case, the CofCC is not "an outgrowth"
of the Citizens Councils of America. The Citizens Councils of
America continued to exist as an organization well after the CofCC
was founded in 1985. Both organizations were or are conservative
organizations based mainly in the Southern states, and therefore
there is to some extent an overlap of members and beliefs shared
by them, just as there is between membership of the old Council
and the present-day Republican Party in the South. The old Citizens
Councils of America contained perhaps millions of members during
the course of its existence, and it is hardly remarkable if some
(perhaps 10 percent to 15 percent) of the membership of the present
CofCC is composed of former members of the old Citizens Councils.
Both the old Citizens Councils of America and
the present CofCC endorsed and continue to endorse states rights
as defined in the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Both organizations opposed and continue to oppose forced racial
integration, whether in the form of government-designed and imposed
"desegregation," court-ordered busing, or present-day affirmative
action, racial quotas, and "race-norming."
(2) The resolution states "Whereas the Council
of Conservative Citizens promotes racism, divisiveness, and intolerance
through its newsletter, World Wide Web site, and public discourse...."
This language is apparently based on biased reports
in liberal newspapers hostile to the CofCC and to all conservative
causes and on accounts by such politically hostile sources as
the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL) and the Southern
Poverty Law Center (SPLC). It is the purpose of such sources to
discredit all conservative organizations, personalities, and ideas,
and they have regularly made use of guilt by association and out-of-context
quotations to try to discredit the CofCC.
It is entirely true that the CofCC does indeed
speak out on many issues for white European Americans, their civilization,
faith, and form of government, but it does not advocate or support
the oppression or exploitation of other races or ethnic groups.
It also addresses many other issues that have nothing to do with
race but with such matters as constitutional government, national
sovereignty, a foreign policy that reflects the national interests
of the United States, a strong national defense policy, traditional
morality and culture, the right to keep and bear arms, education,
immigration control, a trade policy that protects American workers
and national economic interests, and a free market economy.
Most of what has been alleged about the CofCC
with regard to its newspaper (the Citizens Informer) and web site
(http://www.cofcc.org) has to do with opinions expressed in the
newsletter by a private member of the CofCC and by a columnist
on the website who is not a member of the CofCC concerning interracial
marriage. The CofCC as an organization does not have a position
on interracial marriage, which is hardly a major issue of American
politics or of public discussion; like most Americans, some members
oppose it, while others are indifferent. Those who are opposed
to interracial marriage are hardly unique to the CofCC or to the
right side of the political spectrum. Professor Alan Dershowitz
of Harvard, one of the leading enemies of the CofCC, has expressed
his own strong opposition to the marriage of members of his own
Jewish identity with non-Jews. Many black leaders have also expressed
their opposition to the marriage of blacks and whites. Most Americans
continue to marry within their own racial groups, and whatever
one thinks of interracial marriage, it is clear that if it were
to become the general pattern of behavior, the "diversity" the
resolution condemns the CofCC for rejecting would cease to exist.
It is not clear why objecting to interracial marriage merits condemnation.
(3) The resolution states that "Whereas the Council
of Conservative Citizens promulgates dogma that supports white
supremacy and anti-Semitism and maliciously denigrates great American
leaders including Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King,
It is totally untrue that the CofCC supports
"white supremacy" or "anti-Semitism." "White supremacy" can only
mean a system of entrenched political domination of a non-white
race by whites. Such a system existed in South Africa under apartheid
and in the Southern United States under ante-bellum slavery. It
no longer exists in the United States.
As for "anti-Semitism," not one newspaper story
or report has documented a single instance of an anti-Semitic
statement, position, publication, or action on the part of the
CofCC. If this charge is true, let those who make it produce some
evidence in support of it.
As for Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King,
Jr., these are major figures of American history, and they and
their names continue to be invoked to advance partisan political
causes or to legitimize political, cultural, and racial agendas.
As long as their names are so invoked, those who invoke them must
expect opponents of such agendas to criticize them. There is absolutely
nothing wrong with criticizing, even with "denigrating," such
figures. Responsible (and some not so responsible) historians
have expressed criticisms of both Lincoln and King, as well as
of other major figures in our history, including George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight D.
Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan. Not all the criticisms of these
figures are valid, nor are all the criticisms of Lincoln and King
that have appeared in CofCC publications or on its web site valid;
but there is no harm done by the free expression and discussion
of such criticisms, and there is no legitimate reason whatsoever
for the U.S. Congress to try to intimidate such discussion by
condemning those who engage in it.
(4) The resolution states, "Whereas the Council
of Conservative Citizens provides access to, and opportunities
for the promotion of, extremist neo-Nazi ideology and propaganda
that incite hate crimes and violence...."
Once again, there is simply no truth to these
charges. The CofCC is in no sense whatsoever a "neo-Nazi" (or
any kind of Nazi) organization, has no sympathy with Naziism,
and has nothing to do with Nazi ideology or propaganda. The CofCC
is a mainly Christian organization, with several mainstream Christian
clergymen on its National Board of Directors, and the CofCC also
contains black, Asian, and Jewish members. It is simply preposterous
to claim that any of these people would join or participate in
or remain members of a group that promoted neo-Nazi ideology or
It has also been reported that the CofCC sells
or distributes "Holocaust Revisionist" or "Holocaust Denial" materials,
that its members give a "stiff-armed salute" at meetings, and
that it follows a strategy of imitating the Nazis but never using
the word. Every one of these charges, each of which has appeared
in supposedly responsible newspapers, is totally false.
Nor is it true that any action or statement issued
by the CofCC "incites hate crimes and violence." The CofCC categorically
rejects and condemns the use of violence and is committed to the
legal, peaceful, democratic, and constitutional political processes
of the American Republic.
Indeed, through its publications the CofCC has
actually helped publicize racially motivated criminal violence
committed against white Americans -- crimes that other news media
tend to ignore or downplay. The CofCC has also sponsored commemorative
ceremonies in honor of Michael Westerman, a young white man murdered
by blacks in rural Kentucky on January 14, 1995 because he displayed
the Confederate Battle Flag on his truck. While the enemies of
the CofCC claim that it "incites hate crimes and violence," the
truth is that it has brought racially motivated hatred and violence
to public attention, condemned it, and commemorated its victims.
Those who make these accusations are the ones who ignore or conceal
the truth about racial hate and violence directed against whites
and hurl irresponsible charges that harm the reputations of the
innocent and exacerbate racial tensions.
If a private individual rather than a congressman
stated that the CofCC "incites" crimes and violence, he could
quickly find himself the object of a legal action. Unfortunately,
the U.S. Congress can hide behind its privileged position to lob
baseless and libelous accusations against innocent parties, and
there is nothing the law can do to protect the innocent.
H. RES. 35 IS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED
The political motivations of the concerted attack
on the CofCC should by now be obvious to all who have followed it
closely. The chronology of the attack alone should make it clear
that what has turned out to be virtually an obsession on the part
of the liberal news media originated as a carefully orchestrated
effort to destroy an organization of innocent, law-abiding citizens
exercising their rights of expression and assembly:
CHRONOLOGY OF ATTACK ON THE CofCC
Dec. 9, 1998 -- Alan Dershowitz publishes attack
on CofCC in the Harvard Crimson.
Dec. 11, 1998 -- FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy
in Reporting), a left-wing "media watchdog" organization, issues
a "report" on the CofCC.
Dec. 11, 1998 -- Washington Post publishes first
news story about CofCC, followed over the next two months by several
more stories alleging extremist views and connections of the CofCC.
Dec. 18, 1998 -- Southern Poverty Law Center
(SPLC), a left-wing witch hunter organization based in Alabama,
issues "report" on the CofCC.
Dec. 21, 1998 -- Anti-Defamation League issues
"report" on CofCC.
December, 1998 through February, 1999 -- News
and opinion articles on CofCC, mostly negative and largely based
on errors and misinterpretations in the above sources, appear
in more than 200 newspapers and magazines nationwide.
The appearance of the orchestrated attacks on
the CofCC in December, 1998 within ten days of the vote in the
House of Representatives to impeach President Clinton on December
19 is not an accident. One congressman who played a major role
in pressing for the impeachment of the president was Rep. Bob
Barr (R-Ga.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee who had
addressed a national meeting of the CofCC in Charleston, S.C.,
on June 6, 1998. Another key Republican member of Congress who
was expected to play a major role in the forthcoming trial of
President Clinton in the Senate and who also had addressed a CofCC
national meeting in 1992 was Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott
of Mississippi. Just as the partisans of President Clinton in
and out of Congress sought to distract public attention from the
charges against the president and to discredit the president's
Republican critics by exposing sexual misconduct by some Republican
congressmen, so they also sought to achieve the same ends by claiming
that these two key leaders of the impeachment and trial of the
president were closely tied to a "racist" organization. Almost
all of the liberal and left-wing commentary attacking the CofCC
and the supposed "ties" of Rep. Barr and Sen. Lott to it dwell
on the relationship of those "ties" to the impeachment issue.
It is of considerable interest that other major
Republican office holders alleged to have close "ties" to the
CofCC or to have addressed it in the past (for example, Gov. Kirk
Fordice of Mississippi and Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina)
were never subjected to the same degree of criticism as Rep. Barr
and Sen. Lott. The reason for this was that Gov. Fordice and Sen.
Helms had little or nothing to do with the impeachment and trial
of the president, and smearing their reputations served no useful
political purpose. The fact is that, despite news reports to the
contrary, few of these office holders have ever had any substantial
ties to the CofCC. Sen. Helms has never addressed it at all; Gov.
Fordice has addressed it twice; Rep. Barr has done so only once;
and all have stated that they are not members of the CofCC.
It is also of considerable interest that the
vast majority of the press attacks on the CofCC were published
between the time the House voted to impeach the president and
the failure of the Senate to vote for the president's conviction
(February 12, 1999). Once the impeachment crisis was over and
President Clinton was no longer threatened with removal from office,
the press attacks on the CofCC served no further useful political
purpose and virtually ceased.
The politically motivated nature of the attack
on the CofCC is also clear from comments made by some of the major
leaders of the attack and the supporters of the resolution condemning
the CofCC. While the language of the resolution itself purports
that the CofCC helps to "incite" hate crimes and violence and
that it is composed of neo-Nazis and "white supremacists," some
of its critics in the media know these claims are false. Thus
Cynthia Tucker, editorial page editor of the Atlanta Constitution,
urges Congress to pass H. Res. 35 but writes (February 14, 1999),
The Council of Conservative Citizens is made
up of upstanding, upright, churchgoing folk -- doctors, dentists,
lawyers, businessmen. And its members -- some Republicans, some
Democrats -- have claimed important political positions. Across
the South, especially Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina,
its members are state legislators, city council members, state
In the first place, can anyone seriously think that
a group composed of the kind of "upstanding, upright, churchgoing
folk" that Miss Tucker accurately describes, an organization of
professionals and elected office-holders, is really an organization
harboring neo-Nazi beliefs, promoting "white supremacy," and inciting
hate crimes and violence? To think so is to embrace the same kind
of nightmarish paranoia about American society that is depicted
in the more sensational productions of Hollywood.
But secondly, Miss Tucker argues that Congress
must "get to the important business of ferreting out and denouncing"
the political views of the CofCC, even though they are not violent
or criminal. Her reason is simply political -- that she dislikes
and disagrees with what she thinks those views are.
Similarly, Mark Potok, Publications and Information
Director of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, has stated
of the CofCC, "They're not going to produce a Timothy McVeigh;
they are much more interested in genuine political power than
in any kind of violence or terrorism. I mean Timothy McVeigh can
kill 168 people, but he is never going to be elected your senator
or president or congressman. So yeah, on a political level, they're
much more dangerous." (quoted in Allen G. Breed, "What is this
group that has embroiled Lott?" Associated Press, February 6,
Mr. Potok, in other words, acknowledges that
the CofCC is not violent and not interested in terrorism or illegal
activities. Why, then, is the group "dangerous"? It is "dangerous"
"on a political level," because the CofCC defends political views
that Mr. Potok dislikes and wishes to drive from the political
arena. In a recent lecture at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in
Washington, D.C. on March 2, 1999, on the subject of the "Hate
Movement in America," Mr. Potok argued that Christian Coalition
founder Pat Robertson and Family Research Council founder Gary
Bauer "provide the moral atmosphere" for the murder of homosexual
Matthew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998 and for the bombings of abortion
clinics and murders of abortionists in recent years. "It all leads
to Wyoming," Mr. Potok stated.
If he and similar-minded persons on the political
left had their way, the Congress would condemn as "dangerous"
any view to the right of the Clinton administration, leaving the
left itself as the dominant or even the sole voice in American
politics and public discourse.
CONGRESS SHOULD REJECT H. RES. 35
In considering how they will vote on H. Res. 35,
Republicans and conservatives in Congress should think about a number
- Will passing this resolution effectively weaken
a real racist, neo-Nazi organization that secretly encourages
racial hatred, violence, and tyranny, or will it merely harm
and libel an innocent and law-abiding group of conservatives
who dissent from the ideas and icons of the liberal establishment
and who have begun to make progress in challenging liberal dominance?
- Are the charges launched by the language of
the resolution factually reliable, or are they politically motivated
propaganda drawn from liberal and left-wing newspapers, media,
and "investigators" designed to smear an effective conservative
- If the resolution is to go forward, does the
Congress possess enough information to make an intelligent and
well-informed decision about the CofCC, or are hearings needed
to determine what the CofCC actually has said and what it actually
- Will passing this resolution help keep American
society a free and open society, or will it discourage dissent
and instill fear into those, on the left or the right, who are
critical of current ideas and policies on race and other major
issues of national concern?
- Will supporting this resolution really help
the cause of tolerance, justice, and freedom in America, or
will it merely play into the hands of the political left, the
same forces that always respond to every challenge or criticism
from the right with denunciations of "racism," "insensitivity,"
and "extremism" and which have just helped cover up and ignore
the lies and crimes of Bill Clinton?
- Is it really the legitimate business of the
U.S. Congress to enact resolutions condemning specific organizations
or individuals for the views they may or may not have expressed?
- If congressmen seriously consider these questions,
they will see that the proper response to House Resolution 35
is either to allow it to die in committee with no further legislative
action, or to defeat it on the floor of the House.