Five years ago Congress blasted a speech by Nation of Islam national spokesperson
Khalid Muhammad as "false, anti-Semitic, racist, divisive, repugnant and a disservice
to all Americans." The censorship resolution was in direct response to the speech
Muhammad gave at Kean College four months earlier. The resolution rocketed through
both the House and Senate in 20 days with virtually no dissent.
Five years later the House refuses to bring to a floor vote and the Senate refuses
to introduce an almost identical resolution that condemns the equally racist, anti-Semitic,
divisive, and repugnant Council of Conservative Citizens. Georgia House Republican
Bob Barr and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott have good reasons to be stone silent
on the resolution. They gave speeches to national and local CCC conferences. They
have written for, and been frequently praised, in its newspaper the Citizens Informer
and on its internet web site. Only after mass public and media outrage about their
CCC involvement did they make the weakest of weak disclaimers of the group. While
both should be condemned for their past ties to the group, it is understandable why
they keep silent. But why do more than 400 Democrats and Republicans in the House
and Senate balk at the resolution? There are three reasons why they do.
The first is that the hands of some Congress members are dirty with the CCC imprint.
A slew of Republicans and Democrats have spoken to or participated in CCC conferences,
meetings, and activities and received funds and political endorsements from the group.
CCC officials have given some Congress members the second reason to say nothing against
them. They claim that they are a group that does not advocate violence, whereas Muhammad
was an individual who did advocate violence. They also argue that censorship will
chill the right of members in an organization to express their views. Their reasons
are phony, self-serving, and plainly wrong.
- The CCC has 15,000 members and thousands more sympathizers nationally. It has
money, clout, and media savvy. It has dozens of supporters in Congress, and among
state and local officials. Its members and supporters are well aware that the CCC
routinely bashes minorities, Jews, gays, abortion, women rights, and immigrants.
The group's obsessive, unvarnished white supremacist verbal assaults make it far
more dangerous and destructive than one individual could ever be.
- Its bellicose views complete with an emblazoned Confederate flag are boldly stately
in a manifesto, "Our War" by Frank Conner on its website. It practically
implores its members to carry out "revolutionary deeds," "preserve
our heritage," "wage war against our enemies" "defend our symbols,"
and make "our ideological moves very swiftly" on those groups and individuals
named on its "enemies list." This comes borderline close to inviting physical
attacks on those "enemies."
- It is not a violation of free speech issue to condemn the group. Muhammad's rant
crossed way over the line between free speech and a hate-filled call to violence,
and deserved public rebuke. Yet the CCC's hysterical attacks on minorities, its blame
of the media, blacks and liberals for whipping up the hysteria over the Texas auto
lynching of James Byrd, and the sharp escalation in hate murders and assaults against
minorities and gays nationally is dangerous proof that it's more urgent then ever
to immediately and forcefully denounce the CCC.
But the biggest reason why many Congressional Republicans refuse to denounce the
CCC is that many of them are Southern, conservative, and agree with much if not all
of the group's philosophy. They are just as determined as CCC members to roll back
civil rights, further gut social programs, wage their cultural war for a nativist,
know-nothing America, and try to seize the White House in 2000. If cavorting with
segregationists and race baiters such as the CCC furthers that goal then they are
more than happy to keep their hands off of them. This is all the more reason why
Congress should be reminded that if it can condemn Muhammad for preaching hate and
violence, then it must condemn the CCC for doing the same.
Tell your congressperson that!
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a Los Angeles based writer and the author of The Crisis
in Black and Black. email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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