Other Scandal is Far More Disgusting'
Columnist, Miami Herald
Bergen Record, Sunday, January 24, 1999
© Copyright Bergen Record Corporation
house has been burning for more than a month now. Last week, the
chairman of the Republican National Committee finally smelled
the smoke and yelled, "Fire!"
a month of a controversy, Jim Nicholson issued a call for party
members to resign from the Mississippi-based Council of Conservative
is the latest chapter in Washington's "other" scandal,
a tale that, from where I sit, says worse things about more people
than Bill Clinton's misadventure ever could. Though its leadership
would beg to differ, the council is a hate group -- hates black
folks, hates Jews, hates integration, hates pretty much everybody
and everything that's not of white, European extraction.
this isn't just any old bunch of bigots. Rather, it's one that
claims among its members, associates, and friends a large cast
of state and federal elected officials from the South. Some are
said to be conservative Democrats, but the majority are Republicans,
including such prominent names as North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms,
Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice, Georgia Rep. Robert Barr, and Senate
Majority Leader Trent Lott.
last two men, in particular, have been busy backpedaling since
last month, when their ties to the group became known. Both said
they had no idea of the council's rather extreme views until,
golly gosh, just now.
despite the fact that Barr spoke to its national meeting in Charleston
last year and sat through a panel discussion that explicitly explained
the group's racial views. Lott, meanwhile, has had a 10-year relationship
with the council -- its newsletter publishes a column he writes
and he's spoken before its gatherings.
years ago, in Greenwood, Miss., he reportedly offered lavish praise
for the council: "The people in this room," he said,
"stand for the right principles and the right philosophy."
leaders of the council have scoffed at Barr and Lott's professions
of ignorance. Not that all politicians affiliated with the group
have been scurrying like roaches do when the lights come on.
Carolina state legislator Charles Sharpe, for one, enthusiastically
endorses the group. "They think like I do," says Sharpe.
"Particularly on the issue of marriage between whites and
non-whites. They're not supposed to mix. Cows and horses don't
about typical of the opinions -- not to mention the cognitive
ability -- one finds on a sojourn to the council's Web site. You
won't read the n-word there, won't encounter the bare-knuckle
bigotry of, say, Birmingham in '63. Theirs is a more sophisticated
hate, a venom couched in reasonable tones and medium-warm rhetoric.
as a man told me once, even if you dress a hog in formal wear,
it's still a hog. So it isn't long before you realize what the
council is about.
realization comes from the whiny tone of its writings, its embrace
of the current vogue toward redefining whites as victims.
it comes from the descriptions of Martin Luther King Jr. in terms
ordinarily reserved for serial rapists and child molesters.
it comes when council writers characterize interracial marriage
as "genocide" against whites and the children of such
unions as "a slimy brown glop."
it comes when a council official advocates sending all non-Europeans
back to their ancestral homes.
it comes, it comes. And when it does, you must wonder, if you're
black, Hispanic, Indian, Jewish, Asian, or, indeed, just American,
what to make of elected officials who thought nothing of consorting
with people like this. I mean, under the most charitable interpretation,
Trent Lott looks like a gullible fool. Under the least charitable,
he's a smarmy bigot. Neither makes me feel particularly mollified;
both make me wonder if this is what conservatism inevitably reduces
I know it's an unfair question. But I also know that I keep hearing
all this sweet talk about "compassionate conservatism"
and a "big tent" with room enough for all, only to see
the talk repeatedly undercut. Their behavior reinforces the perception
that conservatives are, at the very best, uncaring and obtuse
about people who are anything other than Christian and white.
Makes me wonder if these folks mean a thing they say.
week, the head of the GOP called on some of his members to quit
a hate group. What's it tell you about them that he even had to