As Different As Black and White
By Clarence Page
Thurdsay, January 21, 1999
Reader, be warned: Gordon Lee Baum says I am a
"white Southerner hater."
I say it takes one to know.
Baum, a white Southerner from the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton,
was miffed that I called the Council of Conservative Citizens,
the organization he founded and leads, a "white nationalist
organization," remarkably similar, although racially opposite,
to black nationalist organizations like Minister Louis Farrakhan's
Nation of Islam.
We had our little exchange by telephone over the air on on KCRW,
a Los Angeles affiliate of National Public Radio.
Baum's CCC is an outgrowth of the old segregationist White Citizens
Councils of the South, a group to which he once belonged. The
CCC does not openly call for racial segregation, but it remains
dedicated unabashedly to the salvation of White America.
"I think it is fair to say we are a pro-white, pro-European
group, but not racist," he said on the air.
Rhetorical gymnastics like that kept Baum's group well below the
radar screen of mainstream America through its 10-year history.
Then along came recent revelations that Senate Majority Leader
Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Rep. Robert L. Barr, R-Ga., the anti-Clinton
movement's point man in the House, had spoken at CCC meetings.
Both Barr and Lott quickly distanced themselves from the group,
through spokesmen. Although Barr had sat through a seminar before
addressing the CCC, he denied knowledge of what the group stood
for. In a disclaimer statement, he acknowledged that "the
group does harbor some very unusual views that neither I nor any
member of Congress endorse."
What views are those? Well, besides the standard conservative
complaints about affirmative action and busing for school desegregation,
Baum denounces racial intermarriage, non-European immigration
and other "threats" he sees looming over America's traditional
identity as a white European nation.
He also said, "It is legitimate to be concerned that the
United States will soon have a non-white majority. I think the
majority of American people if they understood what this was about,
would not be in favor of it."
He also pointed out that "currently 90 percent of immigrants
to the United States come from a Third World country. Do we want
the U.S. to become a Third World country?"
Such language is genteel compared to the words of the writers
on his organization's Web site and in its quarterly newsletter,
Citizens Informer. CCC writers and columnists have described
Martin Luther King Jr. as "a depraved miscreant," railed
against the North's "War of Aggression" against the
South and described America's population these days as turning
into "a slimy brown mass of glop."
Lott at first denied any direct knowledge of the group, until
photos turned up in the Citizens Informer of his appearing at
the group's gatherings in Mississippi. One photo showed Lott delivering
a keynote address. Another in the summer of 1997 issue showed
Baum and other CCC leaders "meeting privately" in Lott's
Lott endorsed the group as a "needed" organization to
"help protect our flag, Constitution and other symbols of
freedom" from the "dark forces."
But now Lott, too, distances himself from the group's unusual
views through a spokesman. In the midst of the Clinton impeachment
trial, the media have not been terribly aggressive in pursuing
Lott to answer questions about this group.
I wonder why. Baum went ballistic when I wondered aloud how Congress
and the nation would have greeted the news had the races been
What, I imagined, if a leading black legislator like, for example,
Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts, the House Republican conference chairman,
had spoken to, say, Farrakhan's Nation of Islam and praised it
as a "needed" organization?
How would the media have greeted that news? How would we have
handled, say, a photo of Watts meeting "privately" with
Farrakhan in his office?
Farrakhan, like Baum, denies any racism or anti-Semitism in his
rhetoric. But he has been widely accused of it just the
same, not without reason, as Baum has.
But, unlike Baum, Farrakhan has been denounced for it in a congressional
censure vote. The fact that he is a private citizen did not stop
Congress from lashing out at him in 1984, after he reportedly
called "Judaism" a "dirty" or "gutter"
The Rev. Jesse Jackson's associations with Farrakhan and his own
unfortunate reference to New York City as "Hymietown"
haunted him throughout his 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns,
even though he, like Lott and Barr, distanced himself and apologized.
Baum is wrong about me, as he is wrong about so much else. I am
not a hater of Southern whites or anyone else. Baum doesn't speak
for the new South. He just has a few friends in high place.