News Release

Context: John Ashcroft and Neo-Confederate Influence


Two specialists on the political dynamics of neo-Confederate and white nationalist groups in the United States today commented on aspects of racial politics and John Ashcroft, the nominee for attorney general.

Burghart is director of the Building Democracy Initiative at the Center for New Community. The initiative works to counter the white nationalist movement in a 10-state region across the Midwest. “Sen. John Ashcroft gave an interview and legitimacy to one of the leading white nationalist groups in the country,” Burghart said today. “The Senate Judiciary Committee should focus on Sen. Ashcroft’s endorsement of Southern Partisan.” Burghart added: “Southern Partisan and its publisher the League of the South have a long history of promoting bigotry. The League of the South opposes the idea of ‘egalitarianism’ between the races and argues that Southern whites should not ‘give control over their civilization and its institution to another race, whether it be native blacks or Hispanic immigrants.’ To accomplish this goal, the League advocates overturning the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and contends that ‘secession is the best way to restore good government to the South.’ The League has also been a leading advocate of defending the use of the Confederate Flag in Southern states…. In response to a petition encouraging Sen. Ashcroft to condemn the League of the South, the Council of Conservative Citizens began circulating their own petition praising Ashcroft for his comments. The Council grew out of the old white Citizens Councils — the principal organization that fought for segregation in the South during the civil rights era.”
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Lee is the author of The Beast Reawakens; (Little, Brown & Co.; Routledge), a book about contemporary neo-fascism. He said today: “The diverse ethnic make-up of George W. Bush’s cabinet nominees — including African Americans Gen. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice — has deflected attention from one of the most troubling developments in contemporary U.S. politics: the ascendance of the far right, neo-Confederate faction within the Republican Party. GOP heavyweights Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft have well-documented ties to hard-core, neo-Confederate organizations (the Council of Conservative Citizens and Southern Partisan, respectively) that equate race-mixing with genocide and routinely defend the legacy of slavery. But today’s more image-conscious white supremacists eschew heavy-handed master race rhetoric. Instead they couch their arguments in coded language that recasts bigotry as ethnic pride. They claim to be for whites rather than against people of color. They talk about preserving white identity and protecting the rights of European-Americans, which are allegedly under assault. Trumpeting what has since become the standard GOP line on ‘giveaway programs’ and ‘special preferences’ for minorities, white supremacists maintain that their deteriorating status in society is primarily a consequence of ‘reverse discrimination’ aimed at oppressed white people — not the result of global economic forces and social processes that are having a disruptive impact on almost everyone.”
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For further information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; Norman Solomon, (415) 552-5378