The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Every day, in thousands of small, rural towns across the American South, the local barber has generally been among the best-informed and one of the most influential opinion shapers in the community. He knows a few town secrets, probably has a few himself. And in Harrison, Ark., barber Freeland Roy Dunscombe is no exception.
On one recent weekday, just after 9 a.m., there was a steady stream of foot traffic at Dunscombe’s single-chair barbershop in a former gas station in downtown Harrison. He was holding court, as usual, regaling his patrons with talk of psychology, philosophy, history and race — as if he were married to the Ku Klux Klan.
And in more ways than one, he is.
“From an evolutionary perspective,” Dunscombe opined that day, “tribalism is a great strategy, and it far defeats nationalism.” He stepped back to run a brush through his electric clippers. “A guy who will go jump on a grenade to save his nation doesn’t have very good reproductive success.”
Such thinly-veiled racist conversation from a barber may be what many have come to expect in Harrison, population 13,324, a city whose Klan presence has put it on the map as one of the more racially divisive towns in America. But Dunscombe is much more than a garrulous barber who can riff on anything from politics to pomade.
For an hour each weekday morning, before he opens shop, Dunscombe assumes the name “Truck Roy” on Stormfront Radio as a co-host to former Klansman Don Black, who broadcasts a two-hour radio show from his dining room table in West Palm Beach, Fla. Dunscombe’s role with Black, however, is much more than a verbal sparring partner.
An ideologue with a finger on the pulse of the movement, he serves as a bridge connecting Black to a new generation of anti-Semites, Klansmen, race conspiracy theorists and Holocaust deniers –– a bridge that Stormfront’s patriarch so desperately needs as younger racists look elsewhere online for a steady stream of hate.
Every Friday, for example, Dunscombe anchors a feature on Black’s program on the Rense Radio Network called “Five for Friday” to discuss issues of race and, more often, “white genocide.” During one such moment in March focusing on “white tribalism,” Black and Dunscombe discussed what exactly white genocide meant. Did everyone have to die, Black wondered, for genocide to be the right word? Dunscombe responded, “There are still Tutsis left.” (The Tutsis are the second largest population group in Rwanda targeted for genocide by the majority Hutus.)
Their conversations on the radio are not always so … dynamic. In fact, there are times when enough tension is apparent between Dunscombe and Black to suggest their relationship may be one not of friendship, but of shared objectives –– racists from opposite sides of the generational divide and united by a crooked branch on a racist family tree.
Raised and homeschooled in Palomar Mountain, Calif., Dunscombe, 38, spent his early years living the nomadic life of a truck driver. He worked for Rock Solid Chugcreek Trucking in Wyoming before going to barber school in North Dakota. He then moved to Harrison, Ark., where – as he told the Southern Poverty Law Center – he moved “to follow a girl.”
Not just any girl, though.
On Nov. 12, 2009, Dunscombe married Charity Pendergraft, the granddaughter of Thomas Robb, an Arkansas-based Christian Identity pastor and head of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. They wed not quite six months after she turned 18, according to their marriage license. Dunscombe was 32 at the time.
With that marriage, Dunscombe earned a direct family relationship to one the country’s most infamous racists, and by luck or deliberate design, a connection to nearly every former head of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. His grandfather-in-law now leads the Klan group, which David Duke started before handing the reins over to Dunscombe’s boss, Black, who ran the group until he was he was arrested for violating the Neutrality Act by plotting to invade a Caribbean island in 1981 and sent to prison.
But by the time of his wedding, Dunscombe had already been a fixture on Black’s Stormfront radio – a predecessor to the program broadcast on Rense. On that network, he hosted a show called “Riding Shotgun with Truck Roy.” With infamously racist in-laws, it was there that Dunscombe seemed to find a mouthpiece and truly started to talk.
“The only reason why our people have been disheartened and disillusioned and have been tricked into not standing up for themselves is because our controlled media and our society as a whole has tried to beat us down and tried to make the White race seem petty. And of course we’re not petty. We’re the grandest thing that’s ever happened to this planet,” Dunscombe said during one broadcast on May 28, 2008.
But those early radio days –- when he was also broadcasting on Intercept Radio under the registered amateur radio handle of “KF5NBP” –- were only a glimpse of Dunscombe’s racist activism to come. After settling down in Arkansas, he started working hard to live up to the expectations of his Klan in-laws.
By 2012, Dunscombe had started to exhibit the beginnings of political ambitions. He ran as an independent candidate for justice of the peace in Boone County, hoping, it seemed, that a sprinkling of folksiness might sugarcoat his history. “I have never run for political office before, but as a barber I listen to a lot of folks,” he told the Harrison Daily.
While claiming not to be a member of the Klan, he couldn’t hide that three years earlier he had spoken at the Knights Party National Congress, held conveniently by his in-laws. In an interview he gave the Carroll County News in November 2012, four days before the election, Dunscombe’s views came into clearer focus.
“Our enemy is not black. Our enemy is not brown or Mexican. Our enemy looks just like us but has no loyalty to us,” Dunscombe said.
He lost handily to Ann Kimes, a Republic incumbent, who mocked Dunscombe for believing his views would have widespread appeal. “I really can’t take credit for winning the election. I just give him credit for committing political suicide,” Kimes told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette after Election Day.
But with the blessing of Black and Robb, political pitfalls did not slow Dunscombe’s rise on the radical right.
In 2013, at Stormfront’s annual retreat in Tennessee, Dunscombe shared the dais with David Duke, Sam Dickson and Timothy Murdock, the man behind White Rabbit Radio and the proliferation of The Mantra – a 221-word mini-manifesto written by Robert Whitaker, an aging segregationist with a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Murdock had been using his online radio platform to spread The Mantra far and wide, and it wasn’t long before it found its way to Harrison.
On Oct. 15, 2014, a bright yellow billboard with bold black letters appeared overlooking a well-traveled street in Harrison. The sign proclaimed in black letters, “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White,” the final and most frequently quoted section of Whitaker’s screed.
It remains unknown who paid for the billboard. But eight months earlier, Dunscombe, Robb and others attended a meeting at the local library for the Harrison Community Task Force on Race Relations, established to repair Harrison’s tarnished image as a stomping ground for those who promote racial hatred. During the meeting, Robb chastised the city, as usual, for its characterization of his racist beliefs. But it was his grandson-in-law, Dunscombe, who stole the show.
“It’s only white countries where people get called racist, and then as penance for their sin of being white, they have to bring in tens of millions of non-whites into their country,” Dunscombe said indignantly at the meeting.
On his chest he wore a sticker with a message no one had seen before –– Whitaker’s Mantra – and an exact image of the billboard that eight months later no one would claim, in the end not even Dunscombe.
Three alleged members of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who are current and former Florida Department of Corrections employees were arrested today on charges they plotted to kill a former black inmate.
Thomas Jordan Driver, 25, David Elliot Moran, 47, and Charles Thomas Newcomb, 42, were all arrested on one state count of conspiracy to commit murder, Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a prepared statement.
Driver and Moran worked at the Department of Corrections Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler at the time of their arrest, and Newcomb is a former employee of the state corrections department, said Whitney Ray, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
“The defendants plotted the murder as retaliation for a fight between the inmate, who is African American, and Driver,” the statement from the attorney general’s office said.
The attorney general’s office identified the group the men allegedly belonged to as the Traditional American Knights of the KKK. But there is no such known group, and the authorities almost certainly meant the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK, which is based in Potosi, Mo., and last year had a second chapter in Prattville, Ala. A year earlier, it listed seven chapters, the Missouri headquarters and another six in Texas. The group is not known to have a Florida chapter.
The Traditionalist American Knights has gotten much media attention in the last year for distributing propaganda pamphlets. But it received far more scrutiny after its national leader, Frank Ancona, sent out pamphlets threatening to use “lethal force” against protesters in Ferguson, Mo., if any of his members who went there were threatened.
Inside the tempestuous Klan world, Ancona is also known for the attacks on him by other Klan leaders, who accuse him of being secretly Jewish.
The Florida case is the latest instance of KKK members holding positions of authority in law enforcement and the criminal justice system in Florida and elsewhere. Although such cases were once fairly common, they are very unusual in recent years.
There have been a number of cases over the years of racist prison guards, a few of whom were Klan members.
Last summer, two officers with the Fruitland Park, Fla., police department were identified as Klan members. One of them was the deputy chief. One resigned and the other was fired, as prosecutors quickly reviewed their prior criminal cases for bias. There has been some dispute as to whether or not they really were Klansmen.
In 2009, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the 2006 firing of a State Patrol trooper who claimed he had a 1st Amendment right to belong to the Knights Party, another name for the Arkansas-based Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The state’s high court said the firing of trooper Robert Henderson was justified because he voluntarily associated with an organization that uses violence and terror to oppose the state’s founding principles of equality and tolerance.
Henderson, a trooper for 18 years, was dismissed in 2006 after he admitted that, two years earlier, he had joined Knights Party.
“One cannot simultaneously wear the badge of the Nebraska State Patrol and the robe of a Klansman without degrading what that badge represents when worn by any officer,” Justice John Gerrard wrote.
In the new Florida case, court documents associate with the arrests have not been unsealed, so other details of the case are not yet publicly available. The case will be prosecuted in Florida’s Columbia County, officials said.
Even as tens of thousands of people – black and white, young and old, preachers and presidents – poured into Selma, Al., last weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the voting rights victories that followed, members of the Ku Klux Klan were driving through town, throwing plastic bags stuffed with KKK fliers and rocks onto doorsteps and lawns.
In the last two weeks, Robert Jones, the grand dragon of the Loyal White Knights of the KKK, told AL.com that members of his group had distributed some 4,000 fliers to random homes throughout Selma and Montgomery, some 50 miles away. The rocks inside the flier bags were meant to act as paperweights to keep the hate from blowing away.
“We pretty much put out fliers, some against King and some against immigration,” Jones told AL.com. “It’s times for the American people to wake up to these falsehoods that they preach about MLK.”
But that wasn’t all. A few days before the eyes of the country turned to Selma, a neo-Confederate group, Friends of Forrest, Inc., once again put up a racially charged billboard about a half-mile from the Edmund Pettus Bridge – the site of the Bloody Sunday beating of mostly black civil rights marchers on March 7, 1965.
The billboard, with the Confederate flag in the background, depicts Confederate Army General and later KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, astride a warhorse next to his signature battle cry: “Keep the skeer [scare] on ‘em.”
Friends of Forrest has ties to the League of the South (LOS), a neo-Confederate hate group that promotes racial separation, argues that slavery was ordained by God, and advocates modern-day secession. (Lately, LOS has been paying for billboards of its own across the south and plastered with one word: “Secede.”)
Patricia Goodwin, the head of Friends of Forrest, told the New York Daily News, that the billboard “was put there with positive intent to ask people who come to Selma to explore and enjoy our 19th century history.”
Meanwhile, over the weekend, a group of young racists at the University of Oklahoma weren’t wearing white sheets as an expression of their racist views. They were dressed in black tie.
Several members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), one of America’s largest college fraternities, were caught on video chanting a racist ditty as they headed for a black-tie affair on a bus Saturday night.
“There will never be a nigger SAE. There will never be a nigger SAE. You can hang him from a tree, but he will never sign with me. There will never be a nigger SAE.”
Someone posted the 9-second video to Youtube and by late Sunday night, according to The New York Times, Sigma Alpha Epsilon closed its University of Oklahoma chapter. Hours later, university president, David Boren, said at an early morning anti-racism rally that the university had severed all ties with the fraternity and ordered it members out of the frat house by midnight.
In a written statement directed at the frat boys on the bus, Boren said, “You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves ‘Sooners.’ Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots.”
It has indeed been a busy few days in the fairy tale kingdom called post-racial America.
But in the real America, at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Saturday, President Barack Obama embraced Congressman John Lewis, whose head was cracked open by a state trooper’s billy club on Bloody Sunday. Then the president addressed the nation.
“In one afternoon 50 years ago,” the president said, “so much of our turbulent history – the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham; and the dream of a Baptist preacher – all that history met on this bridge.”
Obama said he and the thousands of people gathered at the bridge with him had come to “honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod; tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching towards justice.”
Although the country has come far since that Bloody Sunday, the president said that there is still work to be done.
“We just need to open our eyes,” he said, “and our ears, and our hearts to know that this nation’s racial history still casts a long shadow upon us.”
And just a few blocks away, a plastic bag filled with rocks and hate was tossed on another doorstep.
As police took Frazier Glenn Miller into custody minutes after three people – including a 14-year-old boy – were shot to death at two Jewish facilities in suburban Kansas City last April, the long-time neo-Nazi shouted “Heil Hitler.”
Then, according to The Kansas City Star, Miller asked the officers a chilling question. “How many f——- Jews did I kill?”
The bloody scene was recalled in a Kansas courtroom today by a veteran police officer, Sgt. Marty Ingram, as the first day of testimony began in an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Miller, a lifelong racist, should stand trial for the murderous shooting spree last April in Overland Park, Kan.
In a latest attempt to capitalize on political and racial controversy, a Ku Klux Klan faction from Mississippi has initiated a “Call to arms in Alabama” in response to federal courts ruling that an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
The post, which appeared on the United Dixie White Knights’ (UDWK) website and later on Stormfront — the largest online white supremacist forum — championed Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore for defying federal courts and called for Klansmen to leave their robes behind and take to the streets in protest.
“The Mississippi Klan salutes Alabama’s chief justice Roy Moore, for refusing to bow to the yoke of Federal tyranny,” Brent Waller, the UDKW’s imperial wizard, wrote in a Stormfront post. “The fudge packers from Hollywood and all major news networks are in shock that the good people from the heart of Dixie are resisting their Imperialist, Communist Homosexual agenda!”
Waller’s reason for his fellow Klansman to wear plain clothes is simple. “We have made the decision that we don’t want to distract attention away from the issue, as anytime the Klan rides, we are made the issue by the zionist controlled media,” he wrote. Not that wearing robes and hoods has been a consideration before.
Klan groups in recent months have sought to capitalize on already tense situations by appearing with a word of commentary and disappearing. Klan members have called for “corpses” on the Arizona-Mexico border, tried to raise money for the legal defense of the police officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and even distributed candy as a recruiting ploy in South Carolina. But their rush to the spotlight this time may be different.
Alabama on Monday became the 37th state in the country to recognize same-sex marriage after a federal judge struck down the “Sanctity of Marriage” amendment to the state’s constitution as unlawful. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore responded by ordering Alabama probate judges not to comply with the federal ruling, throwing the state into a heated controversy involving states’ rights and federal reach.
In his post, and in subsequent email exchanges with Hatewatch, Waller speculated as to whether the federal government will send “Jack Booted thugs” — a comment meant to invoke Civil Rights era struggles and draw comparisons between the razing of Southern states during the Civil War and what the Imperial Wizard sees as the destruction of Southern values through marriage equality.
“We as White Christians intend to see that no outside agitators bully or intimidate the White Christian majority in the State of Alabama,” Waller told Hatewatch on Tuesday. “We salute those like the chief justice for standing against the Immoral, Ungodly and activist Federal Judges.”
A man just arrested in Virginia on murder-for-hire charges has ties to racist Christian Identity and KKK groups that hosted a “whites only” gathering and cross burning in 2012 in Alabama, a television station reports.
Dallas W. Brumback Jr., 35, of Sterling, Va., was arrested on Jan. 22 by Loudoun County sheriff’s detectives on a charge of attempted capital murder. The suspect is accused of making a $2,500 down-payment last November to have his ex-wife murdered in a $5,000 deal with a hit-man, charging documents allege.
Brumback is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday for a bond hearing. The suspect’s attorney, Caleb A. Kershner, of Leesburg, Va., did not return telephone calls from Hatewatch seeking comment.
Julie Carey, the Northern Virginia bureau chief for NBC4 Washington who broke the story on Monday, reported that court documents and interviews with Brumback’s neighbors revealed his ties to a “whites-only Christian organization.”
In July 2012, Brumback helped organize a racist gathering near Birmingham, Ala. where Ku Klux Klan banners were displayed and only certain white Christians were allowed, the station reported.
During that three-day racist gathering, Brumback, who said he lived in Virginia, told ABC 33/40, a television station in Birmingham, that he was a “pastor” with Christian Identity Ministries.
“The Ku Klux Klan is a political organization for white Christians,” Brumback told the Birmingham station in explaining the purpose of the gathering and cross-burning. He appeared with short hair in the 2012 video, a stark comparison to long hair and a beard at the time of his arrest.
News video from that gathering shows a banner listing the Ku Klux Klan Realm of Virginia and a website that’s no longer active.
The NBC4 report said Brumback and the woman he allegedly wanted killed filed for divorce in 2006, with his then-wife complaining he was in the Ku Klux Klan and that he “threatened to commit suicide by cop, prompting her to call police because of his erratic behavior.”
Brumback denied the suicide claim but not his KKK ties before the couple’s divorce was finalized in 2007, the Washington station reported. It’s unknown what motivated the murder for hire plot.
Brumback lives with his new wife and 3 children in a home on Redrose Drive in Sterling. His mother, Fay Brumback, lives next door. She hung up and wouldn’t respond to question and hung up when contacted by Hatewatch today.
Her ex-husband and the suspect’s estranged father, Dallas W. Brumback Sr., who also lives in Sterling, told Hatewatch he didn’t participate in the 2012 racist gathering in Alabama and wasn’t aware of his son’s involvement with hate groups.
NBC4 also reported that said some of Brumback’s neighbors “considered a threat because he frequently fired his weapon in his yard, killing crows and other animals” and frequently wore camouflage clothing. Other neighbors told the station that his activities didn’t bother them, but they confirmed his ties to white supremacist groups.
A police lieutenant in Charleston, W.Va., resigned yesterday just before he was scheduled to appear at a termination review hearing for producing racially insensitive videos involving his daughter dancing to KKK music.
Those who have seen the seven videos made by Lt. Terry Shawn Williams describe them as “disgusting and unspeakable,” Charleston station WCHS reported today.
“I knew when … I heard about [the videos] and when I saw them, this police officer was never going to wear a gun and a badge in the city of Charleston ever again,” Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said Wednesday. “They’re a whole lot more than racially insensitive.”
The videos, stored on Williams personal computer, surfaced last year as he was going through a divorce, the West Virginia MetroNews Network reported.
They reportedly show Williams’ young daughter dressed like a police officer and dancing to KKK music. The videos were shown privately to some Charleston City Council members in December, three months after Williams was placed on administrative leave. The mayor said he doesn’t regret that decision or a judge’s order sealing the tapes.
The mayor said the city didn’t leak word of the videos, which he suggested came from one of the “many people who were privy to the divorce.” Now, Jones said, “We don’t have to show them in a hearing and hopefully no one will ever see them again unless it’s in his divorce hearing.”
Williams’ decision to resign came on the eve of a hearing before a city police appeals board where he sought to appeal a decision by the department to fire him. The police officer, who frequently acted as the department’s media spokesman, has said he believes the investigation was politically motivated and that he knows about other incidents of racism within the police department.
To that, the mayor said Williams “was just trying to shed blame. He can go out … and make all the allegations he wants against us. Now, all he can do is go back to his klavern,” a reference to a KKK chapter.
“I knew he couldn’t win this case and apparently he finally did, too,” the mayor told MetroNews. “I think it’s a sad chapter in our history that’s finally come to an end.”
In his resignation letter to Police Chief Brent Webster, Williams said: “It is clear to me and most of the general public that I will not be able (to) resolve my personal problems based upon the way in which this administration has strategically ‘leaked’ and handled my internal investigation. In my sixteen years of service to this department, I have never before witnessed the ‘leaks’ from an internal investigation such as mine. Therefore, I feel that resigning is in the best interests for my family.”
Jones suggested the resignation also is in the city’s best interest, and now he vows to see that Williams’ police certification is revoked so he can’t become a police officer elsewhere.
Think Progress: GOP leaders circle the wagons for House whip Steve Scalise over speech to white supremacists.
Huffington Post: David Duke warns politicians from both parties he might expose their ties to his organization.
Louisiana Voice: As Steve Scalise scandal grows, sordid details emerge about the dark underside of the white supremacist movement.
Right Wing Watch: The five craziest right-wing conspiracy theories of 2014.
The Root: Vandals hit Alabama grandmother’s home with broken windows, racist graffiti: “Move nigger now..”
Helena Independent-Record: Militia-promoting pastor Matthew Trewhella to deliver election sermon at Montana state capitol.
Idaho Statesman: Idaho appeals court overturns conviction of black man after prosecutor recited Confederate anthem.
Athens (GA) Banner-Herald: Georgia Ku Klux Klan group fighting to be able to join highway-cleanup program.
Mediaite: Fox’s Jesse Watters says that if police were really racist, they would just let blacks kill each other.
This time, there is no doubt who put up the latest racially charged billboard in Harrison, Ark., a nearly all-white city in the Ozarks that is struggling for its soul.
The Ku Klux Klan did it.
The sign brought national media attention to the city and its history of racial hostility to African Americans. But no one claimed responsibility for the sign. The man who owned the billboard company declined to say who paid to lease the space.
The Harrison Community Task Force on Race Relations, which has been working mightily for 12 years improve race relations and the city’s reputation, put up two signs of its own: “Love your neighbor.”
In March of 2014, another racially charged billboard was added just below the yellow sign. It featured a picture of a smiling white family and read, “Beautiful Town, Beautiful People, No Wrong Exits, No Bad Neighborhoods.”
The signs stayed up until about four weeks ago when they were replaced by billboards for the local McDonald’s and a Baptist church, saying everybody was welcome.
The Task Force celebrated, figuring – hoping – that the Harrison billboard wars were finally over, “because there are so many good things and great people in Harrison to focus on,” Task Force member Layne Ragsdale told Hatewatch Tuesday.
But on Monday, a new “pro-white” billboard went up in the city in a different spot, “an even better location than the others,” Thomas Robb, the longtime leader of the Knights Party, one of the longer-lived KKK organizations in the country, chortled on the white nationalist Web forum, Stormfront.
The new sign proclaims, “It’s NOT Racist to [HEART] Your People.”
Below those words is a website address that links to KKKRadio.
Billy Roper, a former neo-Nazi-turned-Klansman, wrote on Stormfront Monday that “the Anti-White elites were celebrating the fact that the previous two billboards were removed in town.”
“Haven’t they heard,” he added, “that you can’t keep a good Klan down?”
The Knights Party, also known as the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, has long been associated with Harrison, primarily because it uses a Harrison mailing address, although its headquarters is actually 15 miles outside of the city of 13,000 residents. In his Stormfront posts about the new sign, Robb said he wanted the Task Force “to celebrate and do their Hi-Fives” about the racially charged signs coming down before hitting them with the new billboard.
“We could have put the billboards up the next day,” he smirked, “but it is more fun to allow them to be puffed up and then prick their bubble.”
He added that he is looking to put up another sign on Interstate 40 in Russellville, near Arkansas Tech. “I already have the OK from the billboard company,” Robb wrote, “but we need a little of this stuff $$. Anyone want to help?”
Ragsdale of the Task Force told Hatewatch today that when she first heard about the new billboard going up she hoped it was a joke. “But it’s real,” she sighed. “They’re still trying to smear the community with their opinions. They’re trying to pretend they’re the voice of Harrison. It just gets so old. Move on, already.”
Faced with an exploding crisis sparked by the revelation that the No. 3 Republican in the House gave a speech to a well-known group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis a dozen years ago, the GOP in Rep. Steve Scalise’s home state of Louisiana is doubling down, calling the entire episode a mere “manufactured blogger story.”
Really? A manufactured blogger story?
Scalise claimed yesterday that he had no idea of the views promoted by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), whose workshop he addressed in 2002 at a hotel in Metairie, La. And he was backed by an array of Louisiana Republicans including state GOP chair Roger Villere Jr., who described Scalise as “a man of great integrity who embodies his Christian faith in his life.” Villere dismissed the story broken by Louisiana blogger Lamar White Jr. as “an attempt to score political points by slandering the character of a good man.”
But Scalise’s claim of ignorance is almost impossible to believe. He was a state representative and an aspiring national politician at the time, and Louisiana-based EURO already was well known as a hate group led by America’s most famous white supremacist.
EURO was founded two years before Scalise agreed to speak to its conference by Louisiana resident David Duke, a media-friendly neo-Nazi and onetime grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who had made a national name for himself by running repeatedly for office. He won his first elected office in 1989, when he became a state representative, garnering local headlines across Louisiana. In 1990, he won more than 600,000 votes in an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate, and in 1991, he took almost 700,000 votes in a run for governor. Newspapers around the world wrote about his ultimately losing fight against the scandal-dogged Edwin Edwards and the bumper sticker it engendered: “Vote for the crook, it’s important.”
Video of the 2005 EURO conference.
That’s not all.
Newspapers at the time of the EURO conference reported that a minor league baseball team from Iowa had changed hotels after learning that it would be held where they planned to stay. A hotel official also told a local paper that the company “did not share the views” of EURO, according to the Huffington Post.
And Scalise’s claims met with skepticism even from some well-known out-of-state conservatives. “How do you not know? How do you not investigate?” asked Erick Erickson, a former Louisiana resident, on his RedState blog yesterday. “By 2002, everybody knew Duke was still the man he had claimed not to be. EVERYBODY. How the hell does somebody show up at a David Duke organized event in 2002 and claim ignorance?”
In an interview with NOLA.com yesterday, Scalise reiterated the claim that he had no idea what EURO was and said that he “went and spoke to any group that called.” That prompted Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin to ask the obvious question: “Would he have spoken to a KKK rally? To the American Nazi Party?”
The fact is that Scalise may have had some real affinities with EURO. In 1999, Roll Call reported that Scalise “said he embraces many of the same ‘conservative’ views as Duke, but is more viable.” To the extent that he had a problem with Duke, it appears it was only that he was unelectable. “Duke has proven he can’t get elected,” Roll Call quoted Scalise as saying, “and that’s the first and most important thing.”
In 1999, Scalise voted against making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a state holiday, one of just three state representatives to do so. And in 2004, two years after the EURO conference, he was one of six to vote against the holiday.
There appears to be no transcript of Scalise’s speech to EURO, but blogger Lamar White Jr., who first broke the story on Sunday, found postings on the neo-Nazi Stormfront Web forum that described it. In one, a user said Scalise “brought into sharp focus the dire circumstances pervasive in many important, under-funded needs of the community at the expense of graft with the Housing and Urban Development Fund, an apparent giveaway to a selective group based on race.”
A colleague at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich, actually attended EURO conferences in 2004 and 2005. The venues were adorned with Confederate flags and racist slogans and offered racist merchandise.
Scalise, a politician who already had national aspirations at the time of the 2002 EURO conference, certainly should have known what his dalliance with open white supremacists might cost him. In 1998, a scandal erupted when it was revealed that U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Georgia) and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had endorsed and spoken to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a major white supremacist hate group. In late 2002, after singing the praises of segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), Lott was forced to resign his leadership post.
Now Steve Scalise should do the same.