Real Danger: Racists In High Places
By Cynthia Tucker, Editorial Page Editor,
Atlanta Constitution, Sunday,
February 14, 1999
© Cox Interactive Media
President Clinton spun a web of deceit about a reckless and sordid
sexual affair, while Ken Starr obsessively pursued a holier-than-thou
impeachment crusade, while Democrats and Republicans bickered
and dithered and dragged out the spectacle of impeachment, other
events and trends in the public domain -- some more important
than Clinton's mendacity -- went largely unnoticed.
one is deeply troubling: the emergence of articulate, energetic
networks of white racists with high-profile political and business
connections. The Council of Conservative Citizens, a throwback
to the segregationist white citizens' councils of the Old South,
has members who are well-placed in the Democratic and Republican
parties. The leader of a similar group, an outspoken, self-avowed
white racist named Matthew Hale, is filing a lawsuit to gain the
right to practice law in Illinois, so that he can represent "the
interests of white people" in court. (Given the First Amendment,
he probably should win the right to practice law, repugnant though
that the ugly impeachment ordeal is over, perhaps the leaders
of this country -- from President Clinton to Senate Majority Leader
Trent Lott -- will come to grips with this threat more dangerous
to the republic than Clinton's sex life. Lott especially has a
duty to speak out forcefully against these out-of-the-closet racists:
He has long consorted with the Council of Conservative Citizens
in his home state of Mississippi, thereby granting them political
be clear about who these people are and what they represent. These
are not brain-dead, tattooed ex-convicts of the sort accused of
dragging a black man to death in Jasper, Texas, last year. Nor
are they the wild-eyed lunatics of the sort who comprise those
Montana and Idaho militias, brought to national attention during
the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Council of Conservative Citizens is made up of upstanding, upright,
church-going folk -- doctors, dentists, lawyers, businessmen.
And its members -- some Republicans, some Democrats -- have claimed
important political positions. Across the South, especially Alabama,
Mississippi and South Carolina, its members are state legislators,
city council members, state officials.
this is not limited to the South. Hale, who calls himself a minister
of the World Church of the Creator, believes all nonwhites should
be deported and uses a flag of Israel as a doormat. He's from
East Peoria, Ill.
let's be clear: These are not garden-variety conservatives opposed
to affirmative action and abortion. These are white supremacists
who oppose the legacy of the civil rights movement and would bring
back the day of white-only restaurants and hotels. The Council
of Conservative Citizens, for example, maintains a Web site full
of racist venom.
other rants on the Web site, "An Open Letter to White People,"
by writer K. Patton, says, "The presence [in Congress] of
even one white person with our interests foremost in his mind
is simply unacceptable to the issues-obsessed conservative race
traitors. Texas Governor George Bush and his brother Jeb in Florida
have manifested their self-hatred by embracing Hispanics ahead
of whites. Somehow we must find a way to relieve whites of their
council's Web site also denounces the Rev. Martin Luther King
Jr. as a "liar, sex addict and fellow traveller," bemoans
the immigration of people of color with their "false religions"
and "inferior cultures" and frets about "race-mixing,"
which the council believes will lead to the demise of the white
nation -- diverse as it is -- can survive and prosper only if
it honors the principles of equality. Now that Congress is through
with the impeachment, maybe it can get to the important business
of ferreting out and denouncing a real danger: racists in high