Council of Conservative Citizens
The Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) is an American political organization that supports a large variety of conservative and paleoconservative causes in addition to white nationalism, and white separatism. Several members of the CofCC Board of Directors are former leaders of the segregationist Citizens' Councils of America, founded by Major Bob Patterson, which is commonly referred to as the White Citizens' Council. The organization is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Other US states with active chapters include Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, California and New York. Sporadic CofCC activities occur in other parts of the country as well.
The CofCC was founded in 1988 in Atlanta, Georgia, and then relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. The CofCC was formed by various Republicans, Conservative Democrats, and some former members of the Citizens' Councils of America, sometimes called the White Citizens Council, a segregationist organization that was prominent in the 1960s and 1970s. Lester Maddox, former governor of Georgia, was a charter member. Gordon Lee Baum is the current CEO. Tom Dover, head of Dover Cylinder Repair is the president. Leonard Wilson, a former Alabama State Committeeman for both Republican and Democratic parties, sits on the CofCC Executive Board. Bill Lord, Sr., Carroll County Coroner, former head of the Carroll Academy School Board, also sits of the Executive Board.
The organization often holds meetings with various other paleo-conservative organizations in the United States, and sometimes meets with Nationalist organizations from Europe. In 1997, several members of the CofCC attended an event hosted by Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front party. The delegation from the CofCC presented Le Pen with a Confederate flag, which had been flown over the South Carolina state capitol building.
Following several articles detailing some of its members past involvement with the White Citizens Council, several conservative politicians distanced themselves from the organization. One such politician was Bob Barr, who had spoken at CofCC functions, saying he found the group's racial views to be "repugnant," and didn't realize the nature of the group when he agreed to speak at the group's meeting.
In later years, additional media articles on the involvement of other Republican Party leaders and conservative Democrats with the CofCC attempted to force a distinct denunciation of their association with the organization. For instance, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had also been a member of the CofCC. Following the report, the CofCC was denounced by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Jim Nicholson, for holding "racist and nationalist views" and demanded that Lott formally denounce the organization. Although Lott refused to denounce the organization, he stated that he had resigned his membership. Subsequently, Nicholson, demanded Lott denounce his former segregationist views following a speech he gave at Senator Strom Thurmond's birthday dinner when he applauded the Senator's former Dixiecrat Presidential campaign. Following the ensuring controversy Nicholson's demands initiated, Lott once again apologized for his past support for segregation, his past associations, and his remarks at Thurmond's birthday. This caused his loss of support from a number of important conservatives, not least, Thurmond himself. Consequently, Lott resigned his post as Senate Minority Leader. Similarly, former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt also attended an event of the organization's St. Louis predecessor the "Metro-South Citizens Council" shortly before the name change in the mid-1980s. This was an event he has repeatedly referred to as a mistake. However, rather than gain him support, his denunciation appears to have cost him votes in Democratic primaries for the Presidency. Similarly, in 1993, Mike Huckabee, then the Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas, agreed to speak at the CofCC's national convention in Memphis, Tennessee in his pursuit of the Governorship of Arkansas. By the time of the CofCC convention, Huckabee was unable to leave Arkansas. Instead, he sent a videotaped speech, which "was viewed and extremely well received by the audience," according to the CofCC newsletter. However, following his success in the election, in April 1994, Huckabee withdrew from a speaking engagement before the CofCC. He commented, "I will not participate in any program that has racist overtones. I've spent a lifetime fighting racism and anti-Semitism."
Other prominent conservative national and state politicians who were members refused to denounce, distance, or resign their membership, and continued attending meetings and giving speeches remained prominent political leaders within the conservative movement including former Senator Jesse Helms. Senator Helms remained supportive of the CofCC and consistently won his elections, and support from the CofCC was considered decisive enough that the organization was influential in office throughout his terms in the Senate. Similarly, former governors H. Guy Hunt of Alabama and Kirk Fordice of Mississippi, as well as Senator Strom Thurmond remained active members and/or gave speeches to the organization. Strom Thurmond remained in the Senate until he retired in 2002.
The SPLC and the Miami Herald tallied a further 38 federal, state, and local politicians who appeared at CofCC events between 2000 and 2004. The ADL states the following politicians are members or have spoken at meetings: Senator Trent Lott, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Mississippi state senators Gary Jackson, and Dean Kirby, several Mississippi state representatives. People who have also spoken at CofCC meetings include Ex-Governors Guy Hunt of Alabama, and Kirk Fordice of Mississippi. U.S. Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi is said to have attended as well.
In 2005, the Council of Conservative Citizens held its National Conference in Montgomery, Alabama. George Wallace Jr., an Alabama Public Service Commissioner and former State Treasurer who was then running for Lieutenant Governor, and Sonny Landham, an actor, spoke at the conference.
The CofCC considers itself a traditional conservative group opposing liberals and neo-conservatives; it supports national self-determination, immigration restriction, federalism and home rule, and opposes free trade and global capitalism. Its specific issues include states' rights, race relations (especially interracial marriage, which it opposes), and conservative Christian values. They have criticized Martin Luther King, Jr., who is considered by the organization as a left-wing agitator of Black American communities with notable ties to communism, and holding personal sexual morals unworthy of a person deserving national recognition. They consider the American Civil Rights Movement and the Frankfurt School as elementally subversive to the separation of powers under the United States Constitution. Consistent with paleoconservatism, they regard American culture as an offshoot of European culture, specifically the British Protestant tradition. The Council of Conservative Citizens is active in organizing the restriction, reduction, or moratorium of immigration, enforcing laws and regulations against illegal aliens, ending what they see as racial discrimination against whites through affirmative action and racial quotas, overturning Supreme Court rulings and Congressional Acts such as forced busing and gun control, ending free trade economic policy, and supporting a conservative sexual morality which includes promotion of the Defense of Marriage Act and opposition to the inclusion of homosexuality as a civil right.
In 2005, after several dozen conservative organizations were designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the CofCC staged a protest in front of the offices of the SPLC in Montgomery, Alabama. About 72 members organized a demonstration of several hundred protesters receiving state-wide publicity and focusing attention on the SPLC's fundraising and raising suspicions of demagoguery by the center. The CofCC continues protesting speaking engagements by Morris Dees in Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Indiana, and South Carolina, declaring him to be a threat to free speech and a fraud.
The CofCC publishes the Citizens Informer newspaper quarterly. Previously edited by Samuel T. Francis and web designer Joel T. LeFevre, William Rolen has recently[when?] taken over. Its editorial board includes Baum, Virginia Abernethy, Sam G. Dickson, Wayne Lutton, and Jared Taylor. Recent contributors to the Citizen Informer have included Lawrence Auster. Numerous Mississippi businesses advertise in the Citizens Informer.
In Tennessee there are several chapters. One in west Tennessee, one in Middle Tennessee, one for east Tennessee and another for southeast Tennessee. In Western Tennessee the chapter runs the The Political Cesspool radio show.
In Mississippi there are several chapters that are working closely with private academies. These academies (many of which were originally called “council schools”) are private schools established for white parents to avoid the desegregation of public schools after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.
Mississippi is the only state that has major politicians who are open CofCC members, including State Senators and State Representatives. The CofCC once claimed 34 members in the Mississippi legislature.
The Council of Conservative Citizens held demonstrations in South Carolina between 1993 and 2000 to keep the Confederate flag on the state house dome. Demonstrations were held in the upstate, down to the tourist coast in Myrtle Coast and Hilton Head Island. The rallies started as a response to NAACP rallies calling for the flag to come down and their protests numbered several thousand. After a 1999 rally, when the CofCC drew 1,500 demonstrators to the capital, other groups asked to form a coalition. In 2000, a coalition march drew 8,000 people and was faced with a small contingent of CofCC protesters. Several coalition members endorsed a compromise that led to the flag coming down and being placed in front of the statehouse on the Confederate Soldier statue.
The previous SC CofCC state director, Francis Bell died in 2005 after fighting a long battle with cancer. The South Carolina CofCC is now headed by a four member board of directors and has active chapters in Charleston and Greenville.
Controversy and criticism
Various critics describe the organization as a hate group. The New York Times and the Anti-Defamation League have described the Council of Conservative Citizens as a white supremacist organization. The CofCC is considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to be part of the "neo-confederate movement". In general, organizations such as the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens, SPLC (which lists it as a hate group) and the Anti-Defamation League consider it a threat. Max Blumenthal calls it America's premier racist organization and elementally dangerous to America. The CofCC's statement of principles condemns the Federal government's intervention into state and local affairs in forcing racial integration (item 2), free-trade and globalism, immigration by non-Europeans (item 2), homosexuality, and interracial marriage (item 6).
According to its supporters, the Council of Conservative Citizens opposes globalism, multiculturalism, racism against whites, and an intrusive Federal government. The group says it has a key role in reporting the racial overtones of violence against whites, both in the United States and elsewhere. An April 2005 photo essay on the CofCC website claimed that images of decapitated, burnt and mangled bodies of whites are victims of black violence in South Africa. The website closes with the statement that someday American whites will be a minority and will be subject to the same form of violence.
Columnist Ann Coulter has defended the group against charges of racism, stating on the basis of a viewing of their website that there is "no evidence" that the CofCC supports segregation. Coulter and Pat Buchanan (conservative political commentator, author, syndicated columnist, politician, and broadcaster) are listed as being recommended columnists on the organizations official website.
- Adam G. Klein (June 2010). A Space for Hate: The White Power Movement's Adaptation Into Cyberspace. p. 93. ISBN 978-1-936117-07-9.
- "Council of Conservative Citizens - Statement of Principles". Cofcc.org. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "NAACP chief Ben Jealous plugs CofCC on CNN website and NPR.". Council of Conservative Citizens. July 16, 2010. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
- "Remembering Lester Maddox". Council of Conservative Citizens. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2007.
- Taylor, Jared (September 1998). "A Festival for France: The Front National's gigantic celebration of French Nationalism". American Renaissance. Archived from the original on April 11, 2008. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
- Barr, Bob (March 1, 1999). "Representative Barr Responds (Letter)". Time Magazine. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
- Edsall, Thomas B.; Faler, Brian (December 11, 2002). "Lott Remarks on Thurmond Echoed 1980 Words". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
- Cameron, Carl (January 11, 2004). "Gephardt Admits Mistake on Race Issues in '70s". FoxNews.com. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
- Blumenthal, Max (January 18, 2008). "Mike Huckabee's White Supremacist Links". The Nation. Retrieved January 21, 2008.
- Duhart, Bill (April 12, 1994). "Huckabee won't appear with racist.". Philadelphia Tribune.
- By Heidi Beirich and Bob Moser. "Communing with the Council". SPLCenter.org. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Council of Conservative Citizens - Extremism in America". Adl.org. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Reparations for Slavery: Strategies and Tactics". 2003. Archived from the original on February 6, 2007. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
- "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. November 24, 2010. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Auster, Larence. "Why the 1964 Civil Rights Act has been terrible for America!". Council of Conservative Citizens. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Beirich, Heidi; Potok, Mark (Fall 2003). "40 to Watch: What does the radical right look like after a year of reverses? The future may lie in the personalities still peopling the fringe". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center.
- "Hate in the Mainstream: Ann Coulter Defends White Supremacist Group". Retrieved June 9, 2009.
- "Center Report Exposes Links Between Hate Group, Lawmakers". Southern Poverty Law Center. September 2004. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
- "Beyond Macaca: The Photograph That Haunts George Allen". Thenation.com. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Shelby County Tennessee Chapter". Web.archive.org. February 4, 2005. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- Official website
- Summary of newspaper reports of CofCC by Anti-Defamation League Last updated February 4, 1999.