Smear Campaign?

Letters to the Editor
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Friday, February 5, 1999, page C16
© Copyright 1999 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The attempt by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign to smear Sen. John Ashcroft by falsely linking him to a racist group is reprehensible.

Ashcroft has never had any connection whatsoever to the racist Council of Conservative Citizens, and cannot be held responsible for anything that group says. As the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has pointed out, Jewish leaders have condemned the Council of Conservative Citizens for its racism - but for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to imply that Jewish leaders have condemned Ashcroft is false and ugly.

We at Americans for A Safe Israel (AFSI), a coalition of Jewish and Christian friends of Israel, have worked closely with Ashcroft and his staff for many years, and we know him to be one of the Senate' s most sincere and devoted friends of American national security and the strategically vital America-Israel alliance.

Herbert Zweibon
Chairman, Americans for a Safe Israel
New York

A Jan. 31 article reported on positive comments that white supremacist Gordon Baum made about Sen. John Ashcroft. Baum is the head of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist, anti-Semitic group headquartered here in St. Louis.

The tone of the article implied that the Democrats are trying to overplay this story, and that Ashcroft is not connected to extremist hate groups like Baum's group.

However, Ashcroft has consciously courted white supremacist groups. For example, in a fall 1998 interview in Southern Partisan magazine, Ashcroft said he would do more to "defend Southern Patriots like (Jefferson) Davis." Davis was the president of the Confederacy who led the fight for human slavery and white supremacy.

In the same interview, when asked where Missouri was during the Civil War, Ashcroft said: "Frankly, it was in Texas." He is referring to the pro-Confederate government in exile set up by white supremacists in Texas during the Civil War.

Ashcroft is cultivating extremist hate groups. His interview in the Southern Partisan gives a clear message about his commitment to defend white supremacist heroes. Ashcroft's spokesman Steve Hilton should be ashamed of himself for calling upon the Democrats to "stop inflaming race relations." Hilton should start by explaining Ashcroft' s comments about Jefferson Davis. Isn't Ashcroft the one who is inflaming race relations?

John Hickey
St. Louis

As an African-American, a Missourian and a friend of Sen. John Ashcroft, I am appalled and offended by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's attempt to characterize Ashcroft as a white supremacist. This race-baiting campaign is another attempt by the Missouri Democratic Party to pull off the healing scab from the wound of racism.

I can vividly recall in April 1992, in the middle of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, then Lt. Gov. Mel Carnahan was equally appalled after being called the "Redneck from Rolla" by his primary challenger, Mayor Vince Schoemehl. This was unacceptable in 1992 and remains unaccep table in 1999.

"We must be concerned with every act of intimidation, harassment, cross-burning, swastika painting and racist, religious or ideological hate mongering that confronts us - for every such act challenges the principles of individual rights and human dignity upon which our society is founded." These words, uttered by Gov. Ashcroft in 1984, are not the words of a white supremacist.

The voice and spirit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was heard only by a few in the hollow halls of the Missouri Legislature. The legislation to create the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday spent years in debate and failure. In 1986, Gov. Ashcroft signed the legislation that created this holiday in Missouri.

Gov. Ashcroft appointed the first woman to the Missouri Supreme Court and the first African-American to the Missouri Court of Appeals-Western District. Gov. Ashcroft rejected the Missouri Legislature' s suggestion to incorporate Lincoln University into the University of Missouri system. He wanted to preserve Lincoln University's heritage as a historically African-American college. These are not the actions of a white supremacist.

I am asking all Missourians to reject the cheap race-baiting campaigning of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Michael Tucker of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee should feel contrite and apologize to the people of Missouri.

Sherman Parker
St. Louis