You ever wish you hadn't learned something because you were way more comfortable with your ignorance? That happened to me this week when I learned that Clemmons is the HQ for the North Carolina chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens which is considered a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Thanks Fec). With one quick Google search I learned that Clemmons had hosted the Council of Conservative Citizens' national conference last June.
I couldn't believe that I'd missed media coverage of the event – after all the media would love nothing more than a story about a controversial organization hosting its national conference in the area – so I went to the Winston-Salem Journal website to search for a story about it. I came up empty but did find an article from February, 2011 about the slight decline in North Carolina hate groups, and that article featured an interview with the CCC's North Carolina executive director, a Mr. A.J. Barker of Clemmons. Here's what Mr. Barker had to say:
A.J. Barker of Clemmons, the organization's executive director in North Carolina, said calling the council a hate group is unfair.
"That's totally ridiculous," Barker said.
He said there are good and bad people among both races, and he doesn't consider blacks worse than whites.
Barker said the council has been criticized by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center because of the council's stand on such issues as affirmative action and illegal immigration.
"When you take a stand like that, you're automatically stigmatized by groups like that," he said.
Okay, let's see what representatives from the Eastern Pennsylvania/New Jersey chapter of CCC had to say about the conference held in Clemmons in June, 2011:
Following up Mr. Taylor on the topic of being ‘victims of our virtues’ Louis March, a former aide to Senator Jesse Helms, gave a passionate speech and echoed the call for all White men and women to do whatever they can to save Western Civilization from impending destruction. He emphasized that we need work together for our group interests and not fall victim to what he referred to as “suicidal altruism”, which is essentially a term for how we as a race do every imaginable to lend aid and assistance to every other race at our own expense, even if it means heading down the path of our own extinction.
Mr. March went on to say that even though we must always seek to educate our people with regards to our histories and cultures, it is not enough. He stated that we need to do more than offer up intellectual arguments for people to ponder. We must inspire our people to be noble and charitable with regards to our own. We must inspire people to be heroes and take a stand as our ancestors in Europe did in repelling the invading colored hordes from Africa and Asia…
Sam Dickson, also a CofCC Director, began his presentation with the statement that he quite pessimistic and no linger hopefully in a political or “democratic” solution to our dilemma since we are no longer in control of our society in any area whether it be the government, educational institutions, or the media. He quoted George Orwell, “Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present, controls the past”…
Mr. Dickson then went on to say that our only viable option, due to our socio-political dilemma and the demographic disaster we face due the sheer volume of nonwhite immigrants in the country, is to separate from this society and form a White entho-state where we can look out for our own self-interests without interference from others. He pointed that the success of such a drastic move is achievable by putting forth Israel as an example.
Yeah, I really don't know how someone could mistake them for a hate group. I mean their roots certainly wouldn't lead you to that conclusion would they?
Founded in 1985 by Gordon Baum, a worker's compensation attorney and longtime racist activist, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) rose from the ashes of the Citizens Councils of America (CCA), commonly called "White Citizens Councils," a coalition of white-supremacist groups and individuals formed throughout the South to defend school segregation after the Supreme Court outlawed the policy in 1954 in Brown vs. Board of Education.
Unlike the KKK, the CCA groups had a veneer of civic respectability, inspiring future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to refer to it as the "uptown Klan." While there were plenty of bare-knuckle racists attracted to the councils' anti-integration slogan, "Never!," the members also included bankers, merchants, judges, newspaper editors and politicians — folks given more to wearing suits and ties than hoods and robes. During the White Citizens Councils' heyday, the groups claimed more than 1 million members. Although they weren't immune to violence — Byron De La Beckwith, who murdered civil-rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963, was a member — the councils generally used their political and financial pull to offset the effects of "forced integration."
Once the segregation battle was lost, the air went out of the White Citizens Councils. The councils steadily lost members throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Sensing the need for a new direction, Baum, formerly the CCA's Midwest field director, called together a group of 30 white men, including former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox and future Louisiana Congressman John Rarick, for a meeting in Atlanta in 1985. Together, they cooked up a successor organization: the Council of Conservative Citizens.
Oy. Like I said, my ignorance of this was certainly bliss. I truly am astonished that this event was staged within a 45 minute drive of the Civil Rights Museum and no one seemed to have picked it up. In this day and age if four guys in hoods and sheets decide to have a "protest" at least 20 cameras will be there to cover it, yet a known white nationalist group holds its national conference here and no one even blinks? That's just amazing to me. (BTW, if it was covered and I just can't find it please feel free to let me know.) I don't know what's more sad – that the media are stretched thin enough that they didn't pick up on this, or that we've become so inured to this kind of bile that we just don't pay attention any more.
I guess the one bright spot is they didn't get any attention outside of their own small circle of twisted minds.
“…considered a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center”
For what it’s worth, here are a few more factoids of which the average American is ignorant.
1. There is no legal definition for “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not, can not, “designate hate groups.” The SPLC uses the deliberately meaningless term “hate group” in its fund-raising materials precisely because it allows them to denigrate any group with which it disagrees without accusing them of any actual crime.
2. The SPLC claims it has designated 1,002 “hate groups” across America, but it cannot locate 262 of them on their own “Hate Map” fund-raising tool. That’s 26% off the total right there.
When asked about this wide discrepancy last October, the SPLC’s $147,000 donor-dollar-a-year public relations chief, Mark Potok, admitted on camera that his “Hate Map,” the keystone of all SPLC claims and fund-raising, was “anecdotal,” “a very rough estimate,” and “an imperfect process.”
3. To demonstrate just how “imperfect” Mr. Potok’s “Hate Map” actually is, take a look at his statistics for North Carolina:
Ten of the “hate groups” Mr. Potok claims for North Carolina are homeless. That’s 36% of the total. For Tennessee it’s 31%, 33% for Virginia, 46% for West Virginia (The 3 “groups” listed in Hillsboro, population 223, are all one and the same outfit counted three times to pad out the numbers), and 53% for Kentucky. In many states, Mr. Potok’s “anecdotal” homeless hate groups run as high as 80% to an incredible 100%.
4. According to Mr. Potok’s calculations, “Black separatists” are the largest single category of “hate group” in the country today, outnumbering the KKK and “racist skinheads” respectively, as they do in North Carolina.
5. Finally, it should be noted that despite the fact that the SPLC is located LITERALLY in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King’s home church in Montgomery, NOT ONE of the SPLC’s top executives is a minority. In fact, the SPLC has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power in its entire 41 year history. Talk about “white supremacy”
Sadly, there is still too much real hatred in the world, but quoting the spurious fund-raising propaganda of the Southern Poverty Law Center is a poor way to document it.
I seem to recall that the SPLC has had some controversy around it in the past, and Im not going to dispute your points without researching, but I will say that I think in the case of this group its pretty clear that they are a separatist group with some pretty scary lineage.
One of the reasons I cited the NJ chapters article is that it clearly shows what theyre about just as the groups own website does. Whether or not the SPLC is a great source (I happen to think that in general they are, so well have to disagree there), I think the group as it is self-defined would be considered controversial by most folks and I still think its shocking that they could have a conference here and no one covered it.
I agree that theres too much hate in the world, and I would be just as shocked if a black separatist or Hispanic separatist group set up HQ in Clemmons and hosted a national conference.
You’re welcome. I apologize for alerting you to the disreputable among your neighbors. However, I think we agree that it’s better to know than be ignorant.