Charleston Church Massacre Raises Profile Of White Nationalist Group — And Its GOP Connections
Dylann Roof, the confessed murderer at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, has at least one group of people that agrees with his fanatical racism — and it might cause some complications for some Republican politicians.
In his manifesto, Roof has written about being influenced by a white supremacist organization known as the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). And on Sunday night, the CCC posted its own response regarding Roof’s “legitimate grievances.”
“The C of CC unequivocally condemns Roof’s murderous actions,” the group’s statement said. “However, the council stands unshakably behind the facts on its website, and points out the dangers of denying the extent of black-on-white crime.”
The statement by group spokesman Jared Taylor also added (with all emphasis in the original):
Our society’s silence about these crimes—despite enormous amounts of attention to “racially tinged” acts by whites—only increase the anger of people like Dylann Roof. This double standard *only makes acts of murderous frustration more likely*.
In his manifesto, Roof outlines other grievances felt by many whites. Again, we utterly condemn Roof’s despicable killings, but they do not detract in the slightest from the legitimacy of some of the positions he has expressed. *Ignoring legitimate grievances is dangerous*.
The Guardian did some digging, and discovered that the group’s leader, Earl Holt, has donated $65,000 to Republican campaigns in recent years, including Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz. Upon being asked about this, Cruz’s campaign told the paper that it will be refunding Holt’s money — while Rand Paul’s has chosen a much better move, telling Politico that it will be donating the money to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, to assist Roof’s victims and their families.
The Council of Conservative Citizens is a white nationalist organization, declaring on its website that they “oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action’ and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.”
The group was first officially organized in 1985 — but has long been identified as simply being the successor to an older movement of racist organizations, known as the white Citizens Councils, which went back to 1954.
Those previous groups, sometimes referred as “the uptown Klan,” were made up of white supremacists who organized to resist the Supreme Court’s decision outlawing school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education, and often practiced such tactics as the boycotting or blacklisting of pro-civil rights individuals from the local business communities.
Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour (R-MS) landed in hot water early in the 2012 campaign cycle, during a time when he was seen as a potential presidential candidate, after he openly praised the original Citizens Councils for keeping order, supposedly by suppressing the Klan. (A skeptic would argue that to the extent this was even true, they simply crowded out the Klan in order to make sure white supremacy could maintain a sheen of public respectability.)
But over the years, the CCC has itself maintained genuine political pull in the South and nearby regions. As National Memo editor-in-chief Joe Conason once reported, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft also had ties to the CCC’s then-leader, the late Gordon Baum, when Ashcroft was a U.S. senator.
In 1992, then-U.S. senator (and future Senate majority leader) Trent Lott (R-MS) delivered a keynote speech to a gathering of the group in his home state of Mississippi. “We need more meetings like this across the nation,” Lott told them. “The people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy. Let’s take it in the right direction and our children will be the beneficiaries.”
When this news surfaced in 1998, Lott disavowed having any “firsthand knowledge” about what the group stood for, and his office said he rejected their views.
And in 2001, then-Louisiana state Rep. Tony Perkins (R) — now head of the religious-right Family Research Council — also spoke at a CCC meeting. He subsequently claimed he could not remember speaking at the event.