Wait: I've Heard This Before | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Wait: I've Heard This Before

Recently, someone sent me a link to a site set up about the old white-supremacist Citizen's Council (citizenscouncil.com)--a supposedly upstanding racist group that famed newspaper editor Hodding Carter Jr. called the "uptown Klan."

The Citizens Council played a central role during our state's recent dark past. This group of merchants and community leaders formed to fight integration and help fuel the hatred that drove the violence of the Klan (while claiming not to want anything to do with violence). Its members staged boycotts and smear campaigns against businesses and individuals who dared speak out against white supremacy, or who just allowed black people to use their public restrooms or dine alongside white people. If you were a white person vaguely in favor of ending the state's legally enforced segregation, the Citizens Council spread rumors about you and tried to run you out of town, or business, or both.

It was a hateful outfit.

The relatively new site, run by academic and Council expert Edward H. Sebesta (who has outed politicians who have pandered to the revamped group, the Council of Conservative Citizens), is a remarkable educational tool. It brings reality about our own state and city--the national Council headquarters were in downtown Jackson--directly to our monitors, straight from the horse's mouth.

Most interesting, you can read PDFs of the Citizens Council "newspaper" (published at 203 Wathall Hotel) on the site. In the PDFs, you can see a lot of names and rhetoric that really hit home. It can be a scary proposition for a younger person from this area; just what family member might turn up in the pages of the Citizens Council paper (either supporting its work, or being blasted by it)?

I've read a lot of old Citizens Council rhetoric, and I've poured through the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission files (now also online; just Google them and brace yourself for rampant stupidity, especially the so-called "intelligence" reports where amateur, state-funded spies combed the state looking for someone who supported race-mixing).

We're just lucky these idiots didn't have the Internet: They would have been the original hate-bloggers, spreading lies and innuendo about those who dared question their hate, often hiding behind "anonymous" labels.

But I've seen the Citizens Council stuff before, so no real surprise.

What struck me this time, when looking at those PDFs, is just how closely the rhetoric reflects what we're hearing right now out of tea-partiers and the worst of the right wing. When you click to the first Council paper, dated October 1955 (a year after the Brown v. Board of Education decision united white supremacists throughout the South), you see excuse-making headlines like "Mississippi Citizens' Councils are Protecting Both Races." In it, Thomas R. Waring writes: "Citizens Councils, 60,000 strong and growing fast, are mobilizing Mississippi to guard both whites and Negroes."

Yeah, right.

He continues: "Their aim is to preserve separation of the races against assaults from"--now, wait for it--"the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in alliance with the federal government." The article then lies and says that the Councils also want to protect blacks from "ruffian white people who may resort to violence." (Actually, they helped disseminate information about how to find "integrationists.") It also denies that the Citizens Council pushed for economic boycotts and redress against said "liberals." Snort.

You also learn very quickly what the phrase "state's rights" means and has always meant. It's part of the Citizens Council's logo: "For a free people under constitutional government," it declares, referring to an interpretation of the Constitution that allows denial of rights and redress to African Americans.

A reprinted column, "NAACP Witch Doctors," by then-Clarion-Ledger columnist Tom Ethridge starts: "The NAACP and their associates, seeking to exploit the unfortunate (Emmett) Till affair, have dug deeper into their bag of tricks. In a sense, they have reverted to ancient tribal instincts." Why this blast at the NAACP? Because they dared argue that the state of Mississippi was in part responsible for Till's death because our "clergy, press and citizenry" didn't do enough to stop such race violence. Another unsigned column was called, "NAACP Sows Seeds of Hate."

Sound familiar? Recent?

I happened to dip into this Council history right after some tea-party members, helped along by their lapdog media, started a hate campaign against the NAACP because it dared call out the party for unabashedly harboring racists and racism in its ranks. Suddenly, here I was reading very similar rants against that group, the "liberal" press (like their rants against Hodding Carter) who dared oppose them and warnings about "communist China." Anybody who dared question them were liberals (then meant "integrationist"), communists or spreading race hatred themselves.

Thank God this group no longer has a stranglehold on Jackson and Mississippi. (The Council's Bill Simmons was quoted as saying that he knew where every white Jacksonian stood on the "race question," although he denied it to me late in his life.) Why would we ever purposefully live in such a hell again?

But look around. Since President Obama took office, there are people all over the country openly pushing hate. They are throwing around the word "communist" for about anything except real communists (you know, like communist China); they are using the old Council trick of slamming the NAACP and anyone else who calls out racism by calling them "racist"; they are trying to repeal the 14th Amendment; they use crime to spread fear about cities (where they often don't have a voting base); they are trying to scare "good" Americans by generalizing about Muslims and "illegals," acting like any mosque is a terrorism hub and every immigrant is here to steal a job and deposit "anchor babies" all over the place.

Just like the Citizens Council, these people are lying to us. They are spreading hate and fear, and they are dividing our state and our nation. (Thankfully, they no longer have a stranglehold on our city.) And they are using nearly the same rhetoric of old and even focusing on the same bogeymen. Just go look at citizenscouncils.com if you don't believe me.

Previous Comments

ID
159391
Comment

It's actually citizenscouncils (plural): http://www.citizenscouncils.com I wish you could search on content within the articles. If anyone sees a place to do that, please post the link.

Author
Leland Jr
Date
2010-08-18T11:43:10-06:00
ID
159392
Comment

Whoops, Leland. I knew that and mistyped it. I'll fix it in the piece. Yes, I tried to search in it, too, but couldn't.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-18T11:47:35-06:00
ID
159417
Comment

Just as I thought the tea (terrible and egregious a__holes) party is the new klan with Kim Wade and Bill Marcy as some of its strongest soldiers. Hail Hitler or should I say Hail Ross the Boss Barnett. I'm shold is scared. The enemy now looks partially like me.

Author
Walt
Date
2010-08-18T20:50:35-06:00
ID
159418
Comment

My apology! I do not know whether the tea party is the new klan. I just know that they act klan-like, so to speak, allegedly, if you will, in my opinion, seemingly, some would conclude, so on and so far.

Author
Walt
Date
2010-08-18T21:24:55-06:00
ID
159423
Comment

So far, many tea-partiers (and now supposedly mainstream Republicans freaking out about the ground-zero mosque and "anchor babies") remind me more of the Citizens Council, Walt, FWIW. Their rhetoric is much the same, and can lead to violence, if we're not careful. The people who take the rhetoric and do something with it will be the analogy to the Klan.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-19T09:22:12-06:00
ID
159424
Comment

I don't broadly paint the entire tea party movement as racist, but their most high-profile supporters have pretty much done next to nothing to curb the virulent and racist rhetoric coming from amongst their ranks. If anything, they're being egged on. The anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hysteria doesn't help matters either.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2010-08-19T09:34:34-06:00
ID
159427
Comment

With everything that has happened since Obama's election, I can honestly say I am really scared for this country. Because you have poor people pushing legislation that really does not benefit them. You have people that seriously and honestly believe that, after 1 year, President Obama is responsible for our current economic conditions? That truly and honestly scares me to see how naive some people really and truly are. The communists and socialists comments are covers to other feelings, but they just want it to appear about philosophy. Maybe I am speaking too much in a general sense, but I swear up and down the first four (4) months of Obama's presidency - it seemed like there was no crime in Jackson - it seemed like there was this joy, a sense of euphoria - like damn, we really might be considered as real citizens of this country? But then, you start hearing the arguments about why someone mahve for voted for him and he's this and he's that, he's not even from here - his election really did open pandora's box in regards to race relations. You would think that his election would have brought people closer, when in actuality its brought a lot of concerns, with no logical appareant reason? Let me clarify why I am scared for this country, because of the anger people have displayed towards this President. I mean these are not normal protests, people are showing up with rifles, pistols, and shotguns. It's real and it's real scary, sad - but true.

Author
Duan C.
Date
2010-08-19T12:34:28-06:00
ID
159428
Comment

This is, without question, the most rediculous article I have ever read. The reality is the cry of racism has been a long standing tactic to silence opposition by shame and denigration. Please show me evidence of racism in the Tea Party. I beg you to find substantive evidence. I will probably be waiting a while so I will continue. The problem with the "left" in this country is the total disconnect from the mainstream. If I am anti-ILLEGAL immigration, I am anti-Hispanic. If I still can't get past the RADICAL elements of Islam, I am anti-Muslim. If I am anti-Obama, I am racist. Can you not believe someone could just disagree with Obama? All of these things are now the mainstream. We are a nation of inherently good, decent people. And, much to your dismay, we overwelmingly identify ourselves as conservative or independant. So, move on. No one benefits from dredging up the shameful racist elements of our state's past. Not one person. Try and defeat the conservative movement on the issues. It should be tough considering the country finally sees what the left's vision is.

Author
deltacon
Date
2010-08-19T12:41:08-06:00
ID
159429
Comment

I'm sorry you find my column "rediculous," deltacon, but that doesn't mean that it is rediculous, or even ridiculous. Question: Are you positive no one can show you evidence of racism in the Tea Party? And I guess you missed the discussion last week here about the fallacies behind the use of "illegal immigration"? And just so you know, I am an independent (with a small i). I am not a partisan. This column hasn't nothing to do with partisanship.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-19T13:27:39-06:00
ID
159430
Comment

Thanks for the spell cheque. The Tea Party has been looked at so closely that if racism exist in the party, we would be tripping over the evidence. I did miss the discussion on fallacies behind the use of "illegal immigration" and I'm sorry I did. I'm sure it was enlightening, and totally wrong.

Author
deltacon
Date
2010-08-19T14:01:33-06:00
ID
159431
Comment

Not to but in Deltacon, Do you REALLY want to debate the finer points of the conservative movement strictly on the issues? I think many pop conservatives ground much of their perspectives in ideology rather than a clear, objective view of the facts or reality. But, if you are game, so am I.

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2010-08-19T14:18:55-06:00
ID
159432
Comment

Not to but in Deltacon, What in God's green acre did THAT mean, Blackwatch!? (smile) But, if you are game, so am I. Yes, I think this crowd is well-equipped on this one. Bring on the issues, Deltacon.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-19T14:27:48-06:00
ID
159433
Comment

I did miss the discussion on fallacies behind the use of "illegal immigration" and I'm sorry I did. I'm sure it was enlightening, and totally wrong. That post says so much about you, deltacon. You have no interest in discussion or facts; you've made up your mind, and you'll tell people they're "wrong" before actually hearing or reading what they said. I sure hope somebody in the Tea Party can represent better than you're managing to. It also indicates that you're a troll, just here to pick a fight with no interest in facts. So I'll leave you to the chorus to pick apart should they care to. BTW, even tea-partiers know there is evidence of racism in the tea party. There is evidence of racism in every party from time to time. You shot your credibility in the foot with such a statement even before you declare others wrong without hearing what they had to say. Enjoy. But remember to talk about issues, and not troll, or your stay will be short.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-19T14:33:05-06:00
ID
159434
Comment

We are a nation of inherently good, decent people. And, much to your dismay, we overwelmingly identify ourselves as conservative or independant. So, move on. No one benefits from dredging up the shameful racist elements of our state's past. Not one person. Try and defeat the conservative movement on the issues. It should be tough considering the country finally sees what the left's vision is. I agree with your first sentence. I disagree with your second, third, fourth, fifth, the sixth one, and, yep...the seventh one too. (And, also, please step it up on the spelling, dude. I'm FROM the Delta and you're giving me a bad name. I just barely convinced these people I wasn't batsh1t crazy and barefoot a little while ago. Don't go ruining my image. I got a rep to protect. And, please, you aren't my DAD, are you?) But, back to the topic at hand, I have personal experience with family members who no more cared about politics when there was a "white guy" in charge that when Obama got elected all of sudden started attending "Tea Party Rallies". They never so much as got off the couch when Clinton was wettin' Monica's whistle...but Obama gets elected and they're standing in the hot sun waving signs and talking about solidarity and taxation and representin' and "the damn commies". I'm sorry that I see the hypocrisy in that and you don't.

Author
Lori G
Date
2010-08-19T14:37:43-06:00
ID
159435
Comment

It is worth noting that members of the Citizens Council didn't consider themselves racist, either. They were just protecting the nation from the commies, and everyone who didn't agree on the race question were "liberals" and "communists." Remind me what has changed for some people. Oh, and "illegals" is the n-word of the 21st century. Or one of them. Take it to the bank. If it wasn't, our Delta friend would at least be interested in the conversation we had about what "illegal immmigrant" actually means under the law, and doesn't mean.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-08-19T14:49:45-06:00
ID
159436
Comment

Blackwatch... Game on Lori G... This is not your father, but if I were, I would tell you to not worry what people think about you, and it's ok to go barefoot sometimes. Just not at the grocery store. I would also tell you that everything Obama has proposed and passed has been far from what a majority of Americans want. Any poll can tell you that. And when there is a record being broken on the news every time you turn around, people get more and more upset. Record unemployment, record debt, record bankruptcies, inflation looming, taxes going up in 4 months, with virtually no end in sight to any of it. How about healthcare reform? There is more support to repeal it than there ever was to pass it. This is why they are in the hot sun waving signs. Not because of his race. As for Bill and Monica... i wish that was our only problem right now. I would never stand in the hot sun to protest Bill Clinton's affairs. It never threatened the fabric of our nation. It threatened his marriage. DonnaLadd... You are correct. I did have my mind made up. I believe there is nothing wrong with being anti-illegal immigration. Look into the steps an immigrant must take to live here legally and tell me if you think it is fair. http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis

Author
deltacon
Date
2010-08-19T15:38:04-06:00
ID
159437
Comment

Lori G - when you said this comment here, "I have personal experience with family members who no more cared about politics when there was a "white guy" in charge that when Obama got elected all of sudden started attending "Tea Party Rallies". They never so much as got off the couch when Clinton was wettin' Monica's whistle...but Obama gets elected and they're standing in the hot sun waving signs and talking about solidarity and taxation and representin' and "the damn commies"." Ladd - you really need to teach me how to quote someone on here so their words are in italics But back to you Lori G - that is exactly why I said earlier that I am really scared for this country - because the way I see things right now, you have "Big Business" Republicans banking on those very individuals that didn't give a damn until Obama came into office! So here we have smear campaigns left and right, Fox news is gving political commentary WWE (World Wide Wrestling Entertainment) style and you see conservatives blocking unemployment funding, job creation funding, health care funding - things that will give some much needed financial relief to middle america - but these people are screaming communism are socialism? These people rather go broke than see this fella succeed? Yes indeed!

Author
Duan C.
Date
2010-08-19T15:51:06-06:00
ID
159438
Comment

Oh, and "illegals" is the n-word of the 21st century. Or one of them. Take it to the bank. You should be ashamed. Seriously.

Author
deltacon
Date
2010-08-19T16:00:58-06:00
ID
159443
Comment

Ladd - you really need to teach me how to quote someone on here so their words are in italics Put anything between and and you'll turn it into italics.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-08-19T17:07:24-06:00
ID
159461
Comment

If I am anti-Obama, I am racist. Says who? Can you not believe someone could just disagree with Obama? There's nothing with disagreeing with Obama if it's a legitimate policy issue. In fact, no one should be in lock-step agreement with any politician, regardless of party, race or gender. The issue is when does policy disagreements turn into a policy of personal destruction. Calling the president a socialist, communist, Marxist and even a Muslim may seem harmless to some, but there are really some deep-seeded bigotry behind some of this. Some fanatics on the right are already unhinged at the idea of an Obama presidency, but having right-wing hate-spewing talk radio and even more mainstream Republicans like Newt Gingrich ratcheting up fear does nothing at all to alleviate this situation. Oh, and a mainstream media not willing to do their homework to fact-check and investigate.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2010-08-20T14:17:58-06:00
ID
159462
Comment

Delta, why do you hate our Constitution, which provides the framework by which we elect our government? Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that we shall govern by opinion polling. Instead, we elect representatives. The reason why we have health care reform is that the country overwhelmingly elected Democrats who had long pledged to reform health care. The reason why we will not repeal health care is that it is virtually impossible for Republicans to regain the majority in the Senate. It is an open question whether they will even manage to take the House. They are far from achieving the majorities needed to overcome a presidential veto. Note that Obama had about the same margin of victory in the popular vote that Reagan did in 1980. (Obama's victory was larger in absolute terms and a bit smaller as a percentage.) Obviously, Obama clobbered George W. Bush's margin from 2000, because Bush did not even win the popular vote. So I understand that you disagree with Obama. But this is a constitutional democracy, not your fiefdom. We're not texting in our choice on American Idol. Until you win some elections, all this talk about "the majority" is nothing but hot air.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-08-20T14:22:08-06:00
ID
159463
Comment

Oh, and looming inflation? Really! Inflation is at its lowest rate in more than 40 years. That's like saying we have a looming snow storm--in July.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-08-20T14:39:51-06:00
ID
159465
Comment

"Republicans and flies I do despise but the more I see and hear from republicans the more I prefer flies." Both are nagging and mostly preys on the good, helpless and needy. We hired Obama, among many things, to try and fix the economy and to engage and enact policies which benefited and helped the middle class and poor. Some of us didn't know the republicans would oppose and block everything he tried to do to a level they have. Indeed some of us are surprised at the level of unjustified venom and hate thrown Obama way by republicans, but I'm not. You can put a disguise on a rattlesnake and pretend it a new born crying baby if you wish, but don't try to tell me it's a real baby and it isn't going to strike and poison every living thing it comes into contact with. Republicans by and large are simply no earthly good, with a few exceptions. We also hired Obama to slay the devour (aka the devil, the predator - republicans), but he foolishly tried to work with him. I don't care if he wins again or not. It was miraculously he won in the first place. I even can stand to see Obama leave office with no arms, legs and feet as long as I know he broke them off or lost them while constantly ramming them into the skull, hindside, rear, mouth, nose or other bodily parts of a republican. It's quite funny to me that Delta can blame Obama for so much and the republicans for nothing or so little. The TEA party is without a doubt the new Citizen Counsel and baby klan without the violence so far. Nether me nor my Glock sees any color. We don't discriminate. Just thought Marcy and Wade should know this!

Author
Walt
Date
2010-08-20T16:48:56-06:00
ID
159474
Comment

@ Walt "We also hired Obama to slay the devour (aka the devil, the predator - republicans), but he foolishly tried to work with him. I don't care if he wins again or not.......... I even can stand to see Obama leave office with no arms, legs and feet as long as I know he broke them off or lost them while constantly ramming them into the skull, hindside, rear, mouth, nose or other bodily parts of a republican." Walt I don't want to go as far as some of your comments and I hate to seem so biased, but with the current condition of the country, the adverse attitudes of Roger Wicker, Gregg Harper, Gene Taylor, Haley Barbour and at times Thad Cochran - their attitudes towards legislation that could really benefit this state, makes it hard for me to disagree with you, because I don't want to sound as biased. But on the flip side, can you really blame them for acting as such - when you look at their margin of votes they won by? The constituents of Mississippi allow Governor Barbour and the constituents of the aformentioned representatives allow them to act as such. They take advantage of people like deltacon and they say all the right things, but why they don't see the short comings and give'em the green light; your guess would be as good as mine? Walt, I won't go as far as calling them devils - but I can understand where your coming from, lol!!

Author
Duan C.
Date
2010-08-23T07:21:48-06:00

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