Grabs Spotlight to Attack Racist Fringe
Friday, March 19, 1999
The St. Petersburg Times Online
-- The recently notorious Council of Conservative Citizens was
the subject of a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday,
and the event to condemn the group's white supremacist beliefs
drew a large crowd.
usually warm late winter day, journalists and other spectators
basked in the sun as a parade of mostly black and Jewish Democrats
-- and two moderate Republicans -- came before the microphones
to excoriate the organization and its ties to prominent Republicans.
Council of Conservative Citizens has an insidious and treacherous
agenda!" thundered Rep. Robert Wexler, the Boca Raton Democrat
who has introduced a resolution to condemn the group. "(It) attempts
to mask its hateful ideology by posing as a mainstream conservative
think tank, but the racist agenda of this group is undeniable."
organization emerged from obscurity a few months ago after revelations
that both Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and House
impeachment manager Bob Barr, R-Ga., had spoken before its members.
response to the controversy has been muddled. He has condemned
the group's views. But in what appears to be a bow to constituents
who may view the council as a Southern pride organization, Lott
will not condemn the group itself.
like condemning the Million Man March for the sins of a few people
on the dais," said Lott spokesman John Czwartacki, referring to
march-organizer Nation of Islam, whose leaders have espoused anti-Semitic
Lott represents mainstream Republicanism, the council is stirring
controversy on the right-wing fringe as well. Two unexpected spectators
at Thursday's news conference were a case in point.
of them was a man in a jarringly bright salmon-colored oxford
shirt, which opened at the neck to reveal a gold necklace and
hairy chest. On his fingers were three heavy gold rings, which
resembled brass knuckles.
other was a tall, thin man in a dark suit who blended in so well
he could have been a congressman. His temples were graying, and
he cocked his ear toward the African-American journalists gathered
around him for comment.
man with the gold jewelry stood on the other side of the crowd,
watching the tall man closely. "That's Jared Taylor," said Michael
Piper, crossing his arms and nodding. "He doesn't like us."
is a writer for a little-known newspaper, the Spotlight, published
in Washington by the Liberty Lobby, a self-described populist
group that critics call anti-Semitic.
Spotlight warns of a "new world order" in which America is run
by the United Nations. In its pages, convicted Oklahoma
City bomber Timothy McVeigh once advertised for sale a military-style
rocket launcher. The paper supports Pat Buchanan for president
and David Duke for Congress.
meanwhile, is a board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens.
He crashed the news conference "to make sure our views were heard,"
he told reporters.
two groups should have a lot in common, but in fact they often
bicker, Piper said.
Spotlight, for example, accused Taylor of fomenting a rift in
the council over ex-Klansman Duke's run for Congress in Louisiana
and Duke's opposition to U.S. support for Israel.
(council members) fear they will be accused of anti-Semitism if
they align with Duke," the Spotlight wrote March 15.
shrugged off the criticism. Of the article, he said, "I found
it incomprehensible. . . . They accused me of being in the thrall
like Liberty Lobby and the Council of Conservative Citzens tend
to run under most Americans' radar, until something happens to
raise their visibility.
and activists on the left have then turned controversies spawned
by the right-wing fringes into embarrassments for mainstream Republicans.
the Spotlight, it was the Oklahoma City bombing, which focused
the public on the far-right militia movement. Democrats tried
to link then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., to the militias, saying
his harsh anti-government rhetoric encouraged them.
the council, it was the revelation in December that Rep. Barr,
a militant conservative, had address a council meeting in Charleston,
S.C., last summer.
news about Barr led to the uncovering of Lott's ties to the group.
The majority leader hosted members of the council in his Capitol
office two years ago, has spoken to the organization and has been
photographed with its leaders.
and some Republicans, including conservative pundit Arianna Huffington,
have called on Lott to support a resolution by Wexler condemning
Lott does not support the resolution, co-sponsored by 137 House
members. "The only trouble with this resolution is that it is
a broad-brush condemnation of a whole group of people," said Czwartacki.
Lott backs a resolution quickly introduced this week by the only
African-American Republican in Congress, Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma,
which would condemn hate groups generally without singling out
researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
Copyright 1999 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.