Before Dylann Storm Roof almost didn’t kill nine black churchgoers but then did it anyway, he read a list of black-on-white murders compiled by the Council of Conservative Citizens. That group developed out of the now-defunct White Citizens’ Councils, and it is still a white primacy organization. It has also donated a lot of money to Republican politicians, including Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker. The CCC1 supports the GOP, but not the other way around. Of course, the GOP does oppose affirmative action, and it supports states’ rights and strong limits on immigration and other polices that racists happen to like. But the Republican Party is not racist. It just happens to hold many of the same policy positions as a white primacy organization.
On a related note, the Council of Conservative Citizens does not condone what Roof did after he got inspired by reading its literature. According to a statement on its website, “The Council unequivocally condemns Roof’s murderous actions…[and] is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website.”
I’m sure the CCC website describes those killings of white people by black people accurately, but there’s something not totally honest about compiling a list of murderers by race. It’s the kind of thing that might mislead people, for example a 21 year-old with a new Glock. But the distinction between murderous racist and conservative citizen is not binary. It’s a continuum.
According to the Times, Holt has given over $57,000 to Republican candidates for state and federal offices. In the 1990s, the CCC claimed that 34 members of the Mississippi legislature were also council members. Politicians who have spoken at its meetings include Trent Lott, Haley Barbour, and Mike Huckabee. In a 2010 interview with the Weekly Standard, Barbour downplayed the organization’s racism, saying, “Up north, they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from, it was an organization of town leaders.”
I suspect that where Barbour comes from, the KKK is very much an organization of town leaders. The essence of American racism is not a kid with Rhodesia patches on his jacket shooting up a church. It’s local officials worrying there are too many black people in town, so they join a club for white people that gives money to state legislators and candidates for president. It’s a $57,000 incentive to coincidentally agree with the positions of a group that believes “the whole fabric of life changes if whites are displaced by, say, blacks or Asians or Hispanics.”
Or, if you prefer a neater connection, it’s Kyle Rogers—the leader of the South Carolina CCC—billing himself as an organizer for the Tea Party. The Tea Party is not a white primacy organization, of course. It’s just a grassroots movement of like-minded people who believe that the real America can only be found outside cities, that welfare and immigration are destroying the country, and that President Obama is a traitor and/or foreign national.
Oh yeah—did I mention that 89% of them are white? Who needs explicit primacy when you’ve got a political movement with the same platform as you whose members are overwhelmingly white? Who needs a White Citizens’ Council when a Council of Conservative Citizens will do the same job?
The Republican Party is not a white supremacy group, of course. It’s a business supremacy group. But if you were a white racist, which political party would you give money to? If you kind of believed that black people are inherently violent and Mexicans are taking over the country, would you sew a Rhodesian flag on your jacket and shoot up a church, or would you vote Republican and pine for the real America?
Dylan Storm Roof is an example of 21st-century racism the way William Hung is an example of 21st-century pop music. He is a degenerated expression of what appears everywhere in more sophisticated forms. It’s rare that a white kid shoots black people in church. How rarely does a white politician cash a check from the people who inspired that kid to pull the trigger?