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News Advisory: National Media Should Cover Racist Links of Prominent Elected Officials Like Rep. Bob Barr and Sen. Trent Lott

For Immediate Release:
December 11, 1998

Steven Rendell

During the Judiciary Committee's impeachment hearings on Dec. 1, Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) clashed with Prof. Alan Dershowitz after Dershowitz accused the lawmaker of using rhetoric laced with "bigotry" and "racism."

Barr had stated: "There really are, I think, two Americas. And there is a real America out there. And I think our military witnesses understand that.… And now some on this panel may argue that the president is not in a position of public trust.… And here again, the American public, the real America out there understands that there ought to be a very high standard for our public officials."

Dershowitz said: "Whenever I hear the word 'real Americans' that sounds to me like a code word for bigotry, a code word for racism, and a code word for anti-Semitism."

Barr responded by saying: "That's absurd, you ought to be ashamed. That is the silliest thing I have ever heard."

"A Call to White Americans"

While a few news outlets noted the clash, it's remarkable how little follow-up has been done on the charges of racism made against Barr. A little research would have discovered that not only Rep. Barr, but Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and other prominent elected officials have been closely linked with the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a "Southern traditionalist" organization which is the successor to the notorious White Citizens' Councils—referred to during the civil rights era as the "uptown Klan."

One exception among media outlets was the Jay Diamond Show, aired on New York City's WEVD-AM. Diamond's December 7 radio talk show featured a discussion including Alan Dershowitz and Mark Potok, an expert on racist and militia groups from the Southern Poverty Law Center, on which Potok confirmed Rep. Barr's and Sen. Lott's support for the Council. Potok pointed to the group's influence with other elected officials—including Governors Kirk Fordice (R-Miss.) and Guy Hunt (R-Ala.).

Barr was the keynote speaker at the Council's national conference last June, and was pictured in the group's newsletter, Citizens Informer, addressing the Council's board and posing with several CCC leaders. The Washington Times and Village Voice have both reported that Sen. Lott is a longtime member and supporter of the organization.

What does the Council of Conservative Citizens stand for?

The Council's website (http://www.cofcc.org) features an essay titled "A Call to White Americans," which urges "fellow white Americans" to "look at the faces around you: Find the faces like yours, and see them as your brothers and sisters. Find the fair-skinned babies, and see them as your children." The website also features a tract called "Our War!" with a section titled "The Values of the Traditional White South That Have Been Targeted for Destruction."

The edition of Citizen's Informer featuring Rep. Barr's appearance before the CCC also includes a column written by Robert Patterson, founder of the Mississippi's White Citizens Council, describing how interracial marriage degrades white civilization. An article by Sen. Lott also appears in the issue.

The CCC's web site boasts of a trip by its leaders to France for a meeting with Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the neo-fascist National Front . The article expresses hope the groups will work together in the future. CCC's web site is now linked to Le Pen's.

According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, David Duke addressed a CCC fundraiser at Clemson University in South Carolina. The Greensboro News & Record reports that CCC has ties to the Ku Klux Klan and that its local leader supported Duke for president in 1988. The Austin American Statesman claims that William Carter was booted from the South Carolina Buchanan for President steering committee in 1996 when the press began inquiring into Carter's role as Duke's 1988 South Carolina campaign chair. Carter chairs the South Carolina chapter of the CCC.

According to the Village Voice, Kirk Lyons, a well-known white supremacist attorney and member of the White Patriot Party, was a featured guest at a 1994 Winston-Salem event sponsored by the CCC.

One prominent spokesperson for the CCC is Jared Taylor, the founder and director of American Renaissance, a white-separatist group that organizes conferences featuring "scholars" espousing the doctrine of black intellectual inferiority. Taylor represented the CCC on a recent Fox News Channel broadcast.

A 1997 column in the Greensboro News & Record pointed out that the CCC named the late governor of Georgia and unreconstructed racist Lester Maddox its "Patriot of the Century," and that the Council is critical of the Promise Keepers "because PK kisses up to Catholics and grovels to blacks."

Like Rep. Barr's language, the Council's rhetoric deploys terms like "real Americans." The Citizens Informer, for example, recently declared: "The Confederate Flag signifies the real American way of life...as it was and will be again."

News Media Should Apply Single Standard on Associations With Bigots

Given the above information, journalists should be exploring the connections between leading Republican politicians and this racist organization. National media have repeatedly questioned black politicians deemed too close, to or insufficiently critical of, groups like the Nation of Islam. Shouldn't national journalists be questioning Sen. Lott, Rep. Barr and other politicians who associate with old-fashioned white racist groups?

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