Sharks in the Mainstream
Racism underlies influential ‘conservative’
Gordon Lee Baum was having a bad day. Standing in
a Jackson, Miss., hotel meeting room in November, the 58-year-old
lawyer and leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC)
was doing his best to portray his organization as mainstream. Gov.
Kirk Fordice was scheduled to speak the next day to more than 300
people attending the CCC’s national board meeting, lending the group
the kind of political credibility that Baum has sought continually
during his 14 years as chief executive officer.
But then David Duke, the former Klan leader and
unrepentant racist, showed up and spoiled the party.
"Hi, Gordon," Duke told Baum with a toothy smile.
"Damn you, Dave," Baum said, later threatening
a local newspaper with a lawsuit if it reported that Duke was
part of the CCC conference.
"Don’t say you’re involved with us," Baum said.
"The politicians won’t show up. We use these politicians. The
main reason people won’t become involved, they’re afraid. But
if they see important people, they’ll become involved because
they think the water’s safe and there’s no sharks out there."
In the end, Baum allowed Duke to sell his literature,
but only until the politicians were to show up the next day. Duke
on his own was not the problem. It was the bad press. And how
had the reporters known to show up? Who tipped the local black
newspaper and others off that Duke had appeared at this "mainstream"
"One of the niggers at the front desk," Baum
White Citizens Councils reborn
Baum’s comment which he denied in an interview
with the Intelligence Report was much more than the slip
of an irate tongue. Despite the fact that his group has flirted
with such politicians as Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi
Gov. Fordice and Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), the CCC has racism at its
core. Indeed, the Council of Conservative Citizens is the reincarnation
of the racist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s.
Formed by Baum in 1985, the CCC claims 15,000
dues-paying members. Like its predecessor White Citizens Councils,
the CCC’s greatest strength is in the South, primarily Alabama,
Georgia and Mississippi, where it claims 34 state legislators
and 5,000 other members. The CCC has members in 22 states and
its influence now reaches California and the East Coast from Florida
to New York. Its main publication, Citizens Informer, circulates
to 20,000 subscribers. While its local chapters have taken up
a variety of issues, the CCC in general has focused on national
issues like support for the Confederate battle flag and opposition
to affirmative action, school busing and non-white immigration.
But its chief interest remains race.
"Western civilization with all its might and
glory would never have achieved its greatness without the directing
hand of God and the creative genius of the white race," influential
CCC columnist Robert "Tut" Patterson wrote in the Informer last
fall. "Any effort to destroy the race by a mixture of black blood
is an effort to destroy Western civilization itself... ." "Let
us pray that our citizens will awaken and vote themselves out
of this dilemma," Patterson wrote last spring. "There is still
time. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of
1965 should be repealed!"
The Council’s predecessor
Robert Patterson is no stranger to the world of organized
racism. He founded the original Citizens Councils of America (CCA)
commonly known as the White Citizens Councils in the
wake of the Supreme Court’s May 17, 1954, Brown v. Board of Education
ruling, outlawing "separate but equal" black and white school systems.
"Integration represents darkness, regimentation, totalitarianism,
communism and destruction," Patterson, the great-grandson of a Confederate
general, said at the time. "Segregation represents the freedom to
choose one’s associates ... the survival of the white race. These
two ideologies are now engaged in mortal conflict and only one can
survive. They cannot be fused any more than day can exist without
night. The twilight of this great white nation would certainly follow."
Patterson’s CCA organized private, whites-only
schools, boycotted black merchants who supported school desegregation
and black voting rights, flooded the South with segregationist
literature and supported segregationist politicians. But the group
also came to be known widely as the "white-collar Klan." While
it sought a veneer of social respectability, the CCA membership
had significant overlap with that of the Klan, and was tied in
some instances to violence. In 1960, a segregationist riot followed
a New Orleans CCA meeting where members were told, "These Congolese
rape your daughters." Byron de la Beckwith, murderer of civil
rights leader Medgar Evers, was a key member of the Greenwood,
Miss., CCA chapter, which raised money for his defense.
As a group, today’s CCC has no similar record
But an alleged member, Marshall Catterton, flew
into a rage last year when a black youth, 15-year-old Jason Riley,
tried to tear down a CCC sign promoting the Confederate flag that
Catterton had erected earlier. Catterton shot and wounded Riley
in the chest with a .38-caliber handgun. In an interview with
The Press & Standard of Colleton County, S.C., Baum said he
might react "just as Catterton did" in the same situation.
The links between the CCA and the CCC are not
tenuous. In addition to Patterson, Baum was for years during the
1960s the White Citizens Councils’ midwest field organizer. Bill
Lord, the CCC’s current Mississippi leader, was a regional CCA
organizer. Baum and other CCC leaders have acknowledged that they
built their group on the basis of the mailing lists of the old
White Citizens Councils. Four years ago, one leader boasted that
the principles of the CCA had been successfully integrated into
the CCC. Both groups have employed a strategy of surface respectability
backed by open racism.
By the 1970s, the CCA had lost its battle against
desegregation. But the 1980s brought new struggles for its former
members, with increased immigration from Central America and Asia
rekindling racist fears of white extinction. In 1985, a group
of 30 white men met in Atlanta to decide what to do about it.
Many of them were old CCA members like Baum, former Georgia Gov.
Lester Maddox and John Rarick, who later became a Louisiana congressman.
The group hoped to build unity on the far right.
On March 7, 1985, the Council of Conservative
Citizens was born. The CCC was set up on that day as a 501(c)4,
meaning that it does not pay taxes but that donations are not
tax-deductible. The same day, Baum organized the Conservative
Citizens’ Foundation as a 501(c)3. Donations to the foundation,
unlike the CCC, are tax deductible.
‘A slimy brown mass’
Over the last nine years, the Informer has featured
a steady stream of anti-black and anti-homosexual columns, including
attacks on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday; Black History Month;
statues honoring blacks; African-American scholarship programs;
non-white immigration; affirmative action; and AIDS research. It
has also published many articles supporting the former apartheid
regime in South Africa.
The Informer’s subscribers are continually encouraged
to study biological determinism, eugenics and other racist views
packaged as "scientific". Last fall, for instance, the magazine
carried a glowing review of Gerald M. Spring’s The Philosophy
of Count de Gobineau, a book about a French 19th-century writer
on race and biology.
"Despite its age, its theme is truly timeless
because Gobineau was the first thinker to approach the race problem
from a scientific viewpoint," the reviewer enthused. "His Essay
on the Inequality of Human Races ... advanced the thesis that
each of the three major races plays a distinct role in history.
... The whites were the creators of civilization, the yellows
its sustainers and copyists, the blacks its destroyers. We need
to know more about this great thinker. ... The enlightenment truly
began in France."
The CCC’s Web site also regularly publishes racist
material. One of the group’s featured columnists, who identifies
himself as H. Millard, recently wrote there on his view on the
likely effects of immigration and intermarriage. Millard, who
refused to be interviewed, is a Costa Mesa, Calif., real estate
agent whose full name is Martin H. Millard.
"What will emerge will be just be a slimy brown
mass of glop," Millard wrote. "The genocide being carried out
against white people hasn’t come with marching armies; instead,
it has come with propaganda that is calculated to brainwash whites
into happily and willingly jumping into the Neo-Melting Pot, and
to their destruction. ... Genocide via the bedroom chamber is
just as long-lasting as genocide via the gas chamber."
Race, biology and ‘fetal soup’
Other recent Web site articles have included a racially
tinged piece on Chinese "fetal soup" and an attack on Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln was actually homosexual, the CCC article said, and ugly
and psychotic to boot. In fact, it said, Lincoln’s only good idea
may have been to deport blacks to Africa.
The CCC’s tax-free think tank, the Conservative
Citizens’ Foundation (CCF), publishes sets of "Occasional Papers"
for distribution to the CCC’s members. Recently, these papers
have been authored by such men as Samuel Francis, a syndicated
columnist fired from the conservative Washington Times for racially
inflammatory writings. Other writers of these papers have advanced
schemes to partition the United States into racial mini-states.
Two recent articles were by Jared Taylor, the author of Paved
With Good Intentions: The Failure of Race Relations in America
and a man who has argued that blacks are less intelligent than
"Does America need Haitians, Mexicans, Cambodians
and Guatemalans by the millions?" Taylor asked in a 1997 paper
published by the foundation. "Where these people settle
be it in Miami, south central Los Angeles or Brownsville, Texas
these places cease to be parts of the United States and
become parts of the Third World. ...
"We face ... a far greater threat ... than did
Links to Nazis, the Klan
The political histories of the CCC’s members are
another useful barometer of the group’s views. At the top of the
list are Patterson and Baum. These men have personally helped to
bring the ideology of the White Citizens Councils directly into
the CCC. But there are many others.
The names of CCC members are not public. But
the Intelligence Report, after collecting the names of 175 members
mentioned in council publications and elsewhere, was able to document
ties to racist groups of 17 of those members — almost 10 percent
of the total.
While the presence and degree of racism in the
CCC varies from chapter to chapter, the Report found a significant
number of members have been linked to unabashedly racist groups
including the Invisible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan; the
Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan; the National Association
for the Advancement of White People; the America First Party;
and the neo-Nazi National Alliance. Others have ties to militant
"Patriot" organizations such as the extreme-right-wing Populist
What’s more, such people have been actively recruited.
In early 1995, Baum invited Vince Reed, who Baum
knew as the head of security for the openly neo-Nazi Aryan Nations
organization, into his St. Louis home. Taking Reed into a basement
office and locking the door, Baum tried to recruit him to join
the CCC’s national board. Unbeknownst to Baum, Reed was a law
enforcement informant who has testified in state and federal courts,
most recently against a group of Illinois terrorists.
"He wanted to talk about me coming over to his
side," recalls Reed. "He says, ‘I know you’re an ambassador for
[Aryan Nations leader] Richard Butler, but I can really use a
person like you.’ He told me his organization was really going
"He was very serious, saying, ‘Vince, the Jews
are going to fall from the inside, not from the outside, and the
niggers will be a puppet on a string for us.’ And I said, ‘Well,
I see you’re on the same side we’re on.’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah.’
He said, ‘The power is not out there in the gun, it is inside
Congress. You can battle for the rest of your life with guns and
explosives, and you aren’t going anywhere. We’ve got to do it
from the inside.’"
Baum, while conceding he knew Reed, described
his story as a "total lie."
British neo-fascists and youth
Wider-ranging recruitment efforts are currently under
way. While the council has been largely made up of aging southern
proponents of "the lost cause," last year it began an effort to
recruit a younger generation of followers, setting up an education
committee and a youth chapter.
The youth chapter was developed by Mark Cotterill,
using the false last name Cerr, around Washington, D.C. Cotterill,
a Briton, is said to have brought 100 young people into the CCC.
What Cotterill doesn’t boast openly about are his connections
to the National Alliance — his friendships with Alliance founder
William Pierce, and Pierce’s chief deputy, Kevin Alfred Strom.
Pierce’s novel of a future race war, The Turner Diaries, served
as the blueprint for the deadly 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City
Cotterill is well known in Britain, which he
left three years ago. There, he was associated with the neofascist
National Front and its successor, the British National Party,
as well as American distributor of a far-right periodical, Right
Now. He also has been linked to the Ulster Defense Association,
a paramilitary Protestant group in Northern Ireland.
Shortly after the Southern Poverty Law Center
exposed Cotterill’s true identity in December, he resigned as
the capital area CCC leader, although he remains a member of the
chapter. Baum told the Intelligence Report that members of Cotterill’s
chapter were angered by his public association with David Duke
and his hosting of a December CCC meeting at which neo-Nazi DeWest
That is not the only connection of the CCC to
international racists. In September, a delegation of Baum and
other key council leaders — including Atlanta businessman Tom
Dover, who is the president of the CCC — attended a Paris gathering
sponsored by the National Front, led by anti-Semitic extremist
Jean-Marie Le Pen.
And then there is David Duke.
The Duke connection
Despite Baum’s protestations, the CCC’s ties to Duke
are longstanding. During Duke’s run for Louisiana governor in the
early 1990s, Baum and two other leaders wrote to council members
to urge them to vote for Duke, according to The Riverfront Times,
a St. Louis newspaper. In 1995, Duke spoke to the CCC’s South Carolina
chapter to urge a fight for "our very genes" and support for the
Council. And, even as Baum tried to fight off public affiliation
with the former Klansman, Duke was invited to speak Jan. 2 to the
CCC’s "National Capital Region" chapter — at least according to
Cotterill, who spoke before his resignation as chapter leader. But
Baum heatedly denied that such an invitation had been made in the
name of the CCC. In the end, Cotterill hosted Duke at his own meeting,
telling a reporter that it was not a council event because Duke
was "too controversial."
One key CCC member, Florida State University
psychology professor Glayde Whitney, contributed an introduction
to Duke’s new autobiography, My Awakening, which Whitney terms
"a painstakingly documented, academically excellent work." Speaking
at a gathering hosted by Jared Taylor, who is the editor of the
right-wing American Renaissance magazine, Whitney warned last
fall that blacks are "bigger in bone, smaller in brain," biologically
specialized "primitives" who are wont to mating with white schoolgirls
as they mature faster and are more sexually aggressive than their
white male schoolmates.
And in Mississippi, one politician identified
as a CCC member ultraconservative state Sen. Mike Gunn
earned $9,500 with his wife for helping prepare a fundraising
brochure for David Duke’s failed gubernatorial bid, according
to the The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger. The paper said Gunn’s
direct-mail operation was paid through a fake company. Gunn was
also criticized editorially for alleged race-baiting.
Politicians and the CCC
Today, the council boasts of endorsements by past
and present political leaders including Lott, Fordice and Barr,
who was the keynote speaker at the semiannual council board meeting
held last June; Sen. Jesse Helms (R.-N.C.); former Georgia Gov.
Maddox, a staunch segregationist whom the CCC has honored with a
"patriot of the century" award; former Rep. Rarick (R-La.); former
Rep. Webb Franklin (R-Miss.); and more than 50 local politicians
in eight states, including the 34 in the Mississippi state legislature.
Republican National Committeeman Buddy Witherspoon
of South Carolina is a CCC member, according to The Washington
Post, and GOP National Committeewoman Bettye Fine Collins of Alabama
has spoken to the group and received a special award. So has former
Alabama Gov. Guy Hunt. Alabama Judge Roy Moore, who stirred national
debate by refusing to take down a display of the Ten Commandments
in his courtroom, addressed the Council. Claire Bawcom, a vice
president of the Tennessee Federation of Republican Women, writes
a column for the Informer and regularly speaks at CCC meetings.
Many politicians, like Arkansas’ then-Lt. Gov.
Mike Huckabee, have walked away from the CCC after learning something
of its ideology. Huckabee, today the governor of Arkansas, backed
out of a 1994 speech to the CCC after learning that he would have
shared the podium with white supremacist lawyer Kirk Lyons. Last
year, Winston-Salem, N.C., Mayor Jack Cavanagh publicly apologized
after speaking to the CCC, saying he was not a racist and had
not known of the group’s views. In Washington, the influential
Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which once allowed
the CCC to co-host an annual meeting, has barred the CCC because,
CPAC’s director said, "they are racists."
For his part, Barr, after being criticized in
December for speaking to the CCC, told reporters that he disagreed
with many of the group’s "ridiculous views."
Lott, similarly criticized in December, initially
told The Washington Post that he had "no firsthand knowledge"
of the CCC and was not a member. Informed that Cotterill and other
CCC leaders had told the Intelligence Report that Lott was in
fact a paid-up CCC member, Lott spokesman John Czwartacki said
Lott "doesn’t consider himself" a member and "has no recollection"
of ever paying dues. Czwartacki declined to say if Lott had been
a member in the past, but he did insist that Lott "firmly rejects"
many CCC views. Later, after a month of criticism, Lott issued
a statement decrying "the racist view of this group." Publicly,
Baum said, in effect, that if Lott didn’t consider himself a member
then he wasn’t one. "He’s gotta do what he’s gotta do," Baum said
of Lott’s denials.
In any event, Lott certainly had heard of the
In 1992, Lott gave a speech to 400 CCC supporters
in Greenwood, Miss., at the group’s national board meeting. In
1994, when Lott’s hometown newspaper reported he was a CCC member,
no one objected. In 1997, Lott hosted a private meeting in his
Senate office with Baum, Lord and Dover, who together are the
chief leaders of the CCC. Baum keeps a photo of that meeting in
his office that is signed, "Best Wishes, Trent Lott." Lott’s uncle,
former state senator and current Carroll County, Miss., CCC officer
Arnie Watson, told The New York Times that Lott was, in fact,
a CCC "honorary member."
"We’re a rather large organization in Mississippi,"
Lott’s home state, Baum said. "I would assume someone as astute
as Mr. Lott would have a pretty good grasp of us."
According to the Informer, Lott concluded his
1992 Mississippi speech to the CCC with this: "The people in this
room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy.
Let’s take it in the right direction and our children will be
Baum has claimed great influence with many of these
politicians. In 1994, the same year that Lott was honored at a Vaiden,
Miss., banquet attended by CCC leaders, the Informer took credit
for Lott’s one-vote election as Republican majority whip, the No.
2 leadership post in the Senate. Council leaders have also claimed
responsibility for orchestrating the electoral demise last fall
of former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley, a Republican who angered
the group by opposing continuing to fly the Confederate battle flag
over his state’s capitol building because it was offensive to blacks.
Around the country, the CCC claims to have had
members or supporters elected to courts, school boards, city councils,
state legislatures and other government bodies. The council boasts
of its power, circulating a flier with alleged endorsements from
a dozen politicians, including Lott, whose writings have appeared
for years in the Informer.
The structures of the CCC’s chapters, and their
political interests, vary from state to state a function
of the CCC’s decentralized structure, which hearkens back to the
strong states’ rights stand of the CCA. The best-organized state
is Mississippi, with eight county chapters. Alabama and Tennessee
have regional chapters, while most others have only general state
chapters. In total, the Council has 33 chapters.
Now, the CCC may well be marginalized as more
mainstream politicians draw away. Explaining a new CCC rule that
leaders keep their own political views to themselves, Baum told
The Washington Post in January that "we were just too dang candid"
when being asked about their views of race and other matters.
"That’s what got us into trouble."
What is clear is that the Council is more and
more openly courting the radical right. At a meeting of its Washington
chapter earlier this month, attended by a representative of the
anti-Semitic tabloid The Spotlight, hard-line white supremacists
were plentiful. One of them, describing himself as the best friend
of George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party,
summed up his views for the audience from the CCC podium.
"Be a Nazi," DeWest Hooker enjoined them. "But
don’t use the word."
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