The Shame of the South
Organized hate groups in America and around the world are of genuine concern to a free society such as ours. They not only gnaw at the fabric of humanity they degrade all that is wholesome and decent in a civilized world. Studying these groups they often seem to be only the “fringe” element of our nation considering the small number of members and their inability to unify and present any type of legitimate threat. Yet, the numbers are frequently deceiving because they do not take into account the silent supporters and the tacit agreement that others share with them.
Groups like Aryan Nations and the National Socialist Movement get our attention through their blatant acts of racism and discrimination. They are vocal and visible. It is those who fly below the radar of watch groups and others who report on their outlandish and sometimes violent actions who we really must consider perhaps even more dangerous in the grand scheme of things.
These are the groups who operate within the mainstream of American society and who wield awesome power both at the voting booth and in the halls of government.The neo-Confederate Movement is, to many, considered to be a little daffy and somewhat eccentric. Often the operation is thought of as harmless and benign and something engaged in by those malcontents in the South whom, for whatever reason, never got over losing the Civil War. Nothing could be further from the truth. And nothing could be more dangerous than allowing this Movement to flourish – and believe me, it is doing precisely that.Like the neo-Nazi’s and the whole White Supremacy movement, the neo-Confederates’ contingencies are varied with a number of groups making up the whole. Unlike the neo-Nazi’s, they appear to be a lot more cohesive in their efforts to present a united front. Vehemently opposed to immigration, homosexuals, inter-race marriages, and integration, membership in these groups spans the United States and boasts about an alarming number of members. Additionally, the movement is spearheaded by individuals of prominence and sometimes wealth. The neo-Confederates are but the tip of the ice-berg in the grand scheme of this repugnant hard-right morass, however. Behind every “movement” there has to be largesse – and lots of it. As we move through the members and the leaders of this “Southern Swamp” we will attempt to connect the dots. There are connections – and we think we have found some of the money trail.
The premier group among these neo-Confederates is the Council of Conservative Citizens who were largely unnoticed prior to Senator Trent Lott being outed as an honorary member and staunch supporter of the group.
In the 1950’s South racism was the norm. In Mississippi it was perpetuated by a group called the “White Citizens Council” and a racist infrastructure that was unparalled and virtually impossible to destroy. Robert “Tut” Patterson was the founder of the White Citizens Council and together with a handful of other small businessmen and shop-owners, as well as Mayors and other white community leades the organization grew to a membership of over 250,000 in and out of Mississippi. The group prided itself on their ability to threaten and harass those who advocated civil rights. The Council was a segregationist organization and they often wielded a heavy hand and quite a bit of power within the communities.
The White Citizens Council was often referred to as the “Uptown Klan” as it appeared that sheets and hoods had been discarded and replaced by suits and ties. The ideology of this group was much like that of the Klan believing that whites were superior and “uppity Negroes” had to be kept in their place. According to the Sisters of Selma website, “Uppity blacks found themselves jobless, black professionals had credit, insurance, or license problems, and all blacks who tried to register to vote were placed on a blacklist.”
Eventually, after a long history of intimidation and hate, the Council fell apart only to be resurrected a few years later by some of the previous members. Gordon Lee Baum of St. Louis, Missouri, once a field organizer for the White Citizens Council, pulled a meeting together in Atlanta of some of the former members, including one-time Governor of Georgia, Lester Maddox, and together they formed what is know known as the Council of Conservative Citizens. Not surprisingly, Tut Patterson became a columnist for the “Citizens Informer” newspaper, a CCC publication. That same publication ran a column written by none other than Trent Lott.
Using old mailing lists, the 30+ membership rapidly gained momentum attracting those who agreed on segregation, miscegenation, the Confederate Flag, and immigration. Claiming not to be racist, the organization continued to flourish primarily in the South but later spanning much of the United States as it does still today. Their non-racist claims, however, just don’t hold up to scrutiny. The Southern Poverty Law Center, long ago, declared the Council a “Hate Group” and their attempts to appear mainstream conservative have recently fallen by the wayside opting for a much more blatant presentation of their agenda. In the late 1990’s, a few politicians got themselves in some real hot water over their affiliations with this group, not the least of which were Bob Barr and Trent Lott.
It has been reported that the organization currently has over 15,000 members across the United States. Of course, the number of supporters and sympathizers is much larger.