Council of Conservative Citizens
|Abbreviation||CofCC or CCC|
|Headquarters||St. Louis, Missouri|
The Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC or CCC) is an American white supremacist organization. It supports white nationalism, and a variety of conservative and paleoconservative causes. Several members of the CofCC Board of Directors are former leaders of the segregationist Citizens' Councils of America, founded by Bob Patterson, which is commonly referred to as the White Citizens' Councils. Its statement of principles says that they "oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind".
The Council of Conservative Citizens was founded in 1988 in Atlanta, Georgia, and then relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. The CofCC was formed by white supremacists, including some former members of the Citizens' Councils of America, sometimes called the White Citizens' Councils, a segregationist organization that was prominent in the 1960s and 1970s. Lester Maddox, former governor of Georgia, was a charter member. Gordon Lee Baum, a retired personal injury lawyer, was CEO until he died in March 2015. Earl P. Holt III of Longview, Texas is the president. Leonard Wilson, a former Alabama State Committeeman for both Republican and Democratic parties, sits on the CofCC Executive Board.
The organization often holds meetings with various other paleoconservative 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.
Following several articles detailing some of its members' past involvement with the White Citizens' Councils, 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 did not realize the nature of the group when he agreed to speak at the group's meeting. Barr gave the keynote speech at its 1998 national convention.
In later years, additional media articles on the involvement of other politicians 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 Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Jim Nicholson, denounced the CofCC 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 1948 Dixiecrat presidential campaign. Following the controversy Nicholson's demands initiated, Lott apologized for his past support for segregation, his past associations, and his remarks at Thurmond's birthday. This caused him 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 was changed in the mid-1980s. This was an event he has repeatedly referred to as a mistake. 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 conservative national and state politicians who refused to denounce, distance, or resign their membership and continued attending meetings and giving speeches remained prominent political leaders within the conservative movement. Former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina 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 of South Carolina remained active members and/or gave speeches to the organization.
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.
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.
This section relies too much on references to primary sources. (July 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
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. 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.
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.
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).
Various critics describe the organization as a hate group. The New York Times called it a white separatist group with a thinly veiled white supremacist agenda. The Anti-Defamation League said "Although the group claims not to be racist, its leaders traffic with other white supremacist groups". 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 has called it America's premier racist organization and elementally dangerous to America.
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 are listed as being recommended columnists on the organization's official website.
Mass murderer Dylann Roof searched the Internet for information on "black on White crime", and the first website he found was the CofCC website. He cited its portrayal of "black on White murders" as something that radically changed him ("I have never been the same since that day"). The CofCC issued a statement on its website "unequivocally condemn[ing]" the attack, but that Roof has some "legitimate grievances" against black people. An additional statement from Earl Holt III, president of the CofCC, disavowed responsibility for the crime and stated that the group's website "accurately and honestly report[s] black-on-white violent crime". In the days following Roof's arrest and subsequent investigation it was revealed that Holt had made campaign contributions to several conservative politicians including 2016 Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and Rand Paul, as well as Tom Cotton and Mia Love; all subsequently announced that they would return Holt's contributions or donate them to a fund for the families of Roof's victims.
- "Council of Conservative Citizens".
- "Extremism in America: Council of Conservative Citizens". Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- Graham, David A. (2015-06-22). "The White-Supremacist Group That Inspired a Racist Manifesto". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
- 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.
- "NAACP chief Ben Jealous plugs CofCC on CNN website and NPR". Council of Conservative Citizens. July 16, 2010. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
- "Council of Conservative Citizens - Statement of Principles". Cofcc.org. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Ex-Ontario teacher is international director of American 'white nationalist' group that influenced Dylann Roof". National Post. June 23, 2015.
- "Remembering Lester Maddox". Council of Conservative Citizens. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2007.
- "Gordon Baum Who Helped Found CCC Has Died". SPLC Hatewatch. March 3, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
- "Tribute to Gordon Baum". Conservative-Headlines.com. March 3, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
- Bever, Lindsey (June 23, 2015). "'Supremacist' Earl Holt III and his donations to Republicans". washingtonpost.com. Washington Post. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
- Berkowitz, Bill (July 8, 2015). "Where Did the President of a Racist Organization Get Money to Donate to Republicans?". truth-out.org. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
- Barr, Bob (March 1, 1999). "Representative Barr Responds (Letter)". Time Magazine. Retrieved March 12, 2007.
- Phillips, Amber (June 22, 2015). "The political success of the Council of Conservative Citizens, explained". washingtonpost.com. Washington Post. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
- 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. Archived from the original on May 21, 2008. Retrieved July 24, 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.
- "Reparations for Slavery: Strategies and Tactics". 2003. Archived from the original on February 6, 2007. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
- "Shelby County Tennessee Chapter". Council of Conservative Citizens. February 4, 2005. Archived from the original on February 4, 2007. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Citizens Informer" (PDF). November 24, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 1, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Martin Luther King Jr.'s America". January 18, 1999 – via NYTimes.com.
- "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.
- "Hate in the Mainstream: Ann Coulter Defends White Supremacist Group". Retrieved June 9, 2009.
- "The Last Rhodesian". Archived from the original on June 23, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2015.
- Los Angeles Times (June 20, 2015). "Online manifesto linked to Charleston suspect Dylann Roof shows evolving views on race". latimes.com.
- Thompson, Catherine (June 22, 2015). "Group That May Have Influenced Charleston Killer: He Had Some 'Legitimate Grievances'". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
- "Sen. Ted Cruz returns donations from head of group linked to Charleston gunman". Fox News.
- Jon Swaine. "Leader of group cited in 'Dylann Roof manifesto' donated to top Republicans". the Guardian.
- Ballhaus, Rebecca (June 22, 2015). "Republicans Relinquish Donations From White Supremacist Cited by Charleston Suspect". blogs.wsj.com. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 14, 2016.