Let's Be Honest About Lott and Barr

By Stanley Crouch
New York Daily News
From: News and Views | Opinion |
Sunday, December 27, 1998

I continue to write about the racist connections of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi and Georgia Rep. Bob Barr because it would be irresponsible to do otherwise.

At present, Brother Lott and Brother Barr are trying to unstick themselves from the vanilla tar baby of the Council of Conservative Citizens, which has embraced David Duke and includes members who founded the racist White Citizens Councils during the civil rights era. They have pretended to have very light involvement or to have never known what this organization truly stands for.

Only a fool would swallow that, especially since Brother Lott's uncle has been a long-time member of the CCC.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia says that those who live in the South are absolutely sure the CCC is nothing but a bunch of neo-Confederates. Yet the media, still at the collective bedroom keyhole, seem more interested in soiled sheets than worn sheets.

Even so, the lowdown on Brother Lott and Brother Barr first surfaced in the mass media through the New York efforts of WEVD's radio talk show host Jay Diamond and his producer, Scott Pellegrino. Who Lott and Barr are became clearer when Alan Dershowitz and Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center appeared on the air with Diamond to discuss Brother Barr. Dershowitz is the most interviewed lawyer in America, and Potok is quite familiar with racist and militia groups.

During the radio program, it was revealed that both the congressman and senator supported the CCC, and that the CCC supported them, presenting both as speakers.

Steve Rendall of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting heard that show and became interested in digging up more information. Rendall found that the senator had praised the CCC for its philosophy and written columns for its periodical, the Citizens Informer, which features white supremacists. Rendall also discovered that there had been a number of articles written in small periodicals about Lott and Barr and that both of them had lied about their relationship to the CCC.

Still, a great deal of media quiet. Writer Christopher Hitchens told me in a phone interview that he was at a dinner party in Washington last week and found that Republicans refused to discuss this side of Brother Lott and Brother Barr.

Hitchens also said, "The spin business is now so out of hand that journalists second-guess themselves. If they were to write critical pieces about Lott and Barr, they are afraid that they'd be seen as working for the White House."

But this matter is so serious that people on opposing sides of the political fence take very similar positions.

Peggy Noonan, who wrote speeches for President Ronald Reagan and has praised the Republicans for moving to impeach Mr. Bill, was very clear about this issue and the tone that should be set by the Republican Party whenever hard facts reveal racists in its midst.

"Any man or woman," Noonan said, "who is supportive of and helpful to a blatantly racist organization doesn't belong in a leadership position in America, no matter what group the racists have put their focus on. We have to get all of this behind us. We cannot put up with this from any persuasion or from any quarter."

Julian Bond of the NAACP might battle Noonan on many other issues, but he agrees with her on this one.

"I think," he says, "that this disqualifies Lott as Senate majority leader. That his party, if they know what the CCC is, would elect him says all there is to say and makes a mockery of the Republican claim that it now wants to be seen as a party that represents all of America."

Bond also believes that the reason why the vanilla tar baby that connects Brother Lott and Brother Barr is not discussed is because racism against black people is not taken seriously by the media.

One way that can be changed is if the Republican leadership steps forward and becomes as clear and as resolute on this issue as Peggy Noonan. Then we would see some actual courage of the sort that always betters the nation.

© Copyright 1998 Daily News, L.P.