TRENT LOTT: COUNCIL OF CONSERVATIVE CITIZENS [AND THE OLD CITIZENS COUNCILS]

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 12 01:17:14 MST 2002


Note by Hunterbear:

This is a relevant repost on some always complicated Southern matters --
which is going to a few lists.

What isn't complicated at all, of course, is where Trent Lott stands on
things -- with respect to a wide array of sins of omission and commission.
No one should be especially surprised at him at all.  His revealing ties
with the contemporary  Council of Conservative Citizens are being tossed
about to the Four Directions and, while that's certainly a poison ivy plant,
it's a very, very far cry from the old white Citizens Council movement
[Citizens Councils of America] which, in contrast to this pathetic group of
Wannabees, was a genuinely sinister force from the latter 1950s to the point
of its basic collapse by the end of the '60s. [It finally officially expired
at the end of the '80s.]  Efforts to depict the CCC organization into
something even remotely comparable to the old White Council movement --
which was very much an extremely effective transcendent hate Movement [a
probably honest mistake by a new crop of liberal "Southern experts" which
finds resonance among Northern and Eastern financial contributors] -- would
not impress anyone on any side who was actually in the Southern War during
the sinister hey-day of the powerful "States Rights / Racial Integrity"
Council juggernaut.

As I point out here to someone:

Trent Lott and John Ashcroft et al. have powerfully reactionary forces
behind them -- very long-standing ones -- that make the Council of
Conservative Citizens thing look piddly.  That group may have gotten Lott
some votes in Mississippi -- probably not any he wouldn't have already
secured. Maybe it garnered Ashcroft a bit of support -- but I'd see
traditionally reactionary things like corporate capitalism and old/living
racist legacies and the Christian Right and Paranoia as the basic foundation
for those Poison Ivy Entities.

Anyway, there's certainly enough around on which to get Lott. And  here's
this quite pertinent repost -- material now on our large website:


COUNCIL OF CONSERVATIVE CITIZENS [AND THE OLD CITIZENS COUNCILS] AND ERLE
JOHNSTON [HUNTER GRAY  MAY 27, 2002]

Note by Hunterbear:

I'm posting this -- with its new commentary by me -- on two or three lists
where there might be some interest.  I'm also, with this new material of
mine, sending it again to Redbadbear.

In another discussional context, the matter of the St. Louis-based Council
of Conservative Citizens has arisen.  This outfit, which has claimed a
national
membership  of 15,000  [a figure I strongly suspect is greatly inflated],
is, however poisonous, of not much account compared to the genuinely
dangerous adversaries confronting our Forces of Light.  The CCC fighting
agenda which includes Defense of the Stars & Bars and combating an
ostensible PC attack on the Confederate Museum at New Orleans -- plus the
usual sniping at Martin King -- frankly doesn't seem to me to be exactly
what's going to  take things swiftly and effectively back to 1861 -- or even
1961.  The apparently all-male aging and portly leadership in their website
photo wouldn't be able to follow me very far at all into the 'way back and
super-high ridges that rise immediately behind our up-on-the-far-edge Idaho
home and into which I go a few times each week in my Size 15 Vasque Mountain
Boots, sometimes for five or six very steep miles.

In late March, 1988, in the Deep South for several speaking engagements, I
and my oldest son, John, had dinner one evening at an excellent restaurant
on the outskirts of Jackson.  Our host, Erle Johnston, a veteran
newspaperman,  a much older person than I, had been, in the Old Days, a
shrewd, mortal and deadly adversary.  A leading figure in the Ross Barnett
administration - public relations director of  the State Sovereignty
Commission and then its head -- he came to see more clearly than anyone else
in that whole camp the bloody abyss into which the Citizens Council movement
was taking   Mississippi.  As early as 1962, calling himself "a practical
segregationist,"  he resigned from the Citizens Councils and began to
criticize the Council leadership as "extremist."

And then, a bit later, in a truly extraordinary move given his surroundings,
he proceeded in two significant steps to cut off a long-standing state
government subsidy  [interracial tax dollars] to the White Councils which
had been regularly channeled through the Sovereignty Commission.  The fiery
national Council leader, Bill Simmons of Jackson, immediately called on
Barnett to fire Johnston  -- but Barnett, loyal to his old friend, refused.
Johnston caught heavy flak but hung on.  He was now calling Simmons "The
Rajah of Race."

Johnston, thus the very first moderate-of-sorts in the old Mississippi
segregationist camp, continued his own strange journey onward into the
surrealistic transitional administration of the new Governor [former Lt.
Governor], Paul B Johnson, Jr [1964-68] -- where Erle served increasingly as
a kind of race-relations mediator in the then early-on and sometimes chaotic
rapidly desegregating racial situation. He left state government in 1968, by
then quietly convinced of the validity and necessity of racial integration,
to return to his newspaper, the Scott County Times. Years later, he ran for
mayor of his substantial town of Forest and won -- with virtually all of the
many Black votes.  [It is he, who as Mayor, desperately called me in North
Dakota for advice on how to deal with a heavy snowfall. I was, of course,
experienced with that problem and  was quite helpful to him.]

Erle Johnston wrote a number of good books on Mississippi.  His initial one,
Roll With Ross, was a study of Ross Barnett and that very turbulent
administration.  I reviewed it, favorably, for the quarterly Journal of
Southern History [came out in November '81 along with a review of my own
book] -- and that's how Erle and I connected [1980] in Post-War Mississippi.
A later 1990 book of his, large and full and very honest, is Mississippi's
Defiant Years: 1953-1973: An Interpretive Documentary with Personal
Experiences.

It carries a an eloquent Foreword by his old friend, also from Grenada,
William F. "Bill" Winter.  It is Bill Winter who, as Mississippi State Tax
Collector in the Old Days, was the one significant public official at any
level who flatly refused to join the Citizens Councils.  His own
gubernatorial administration, 1980-84, was one of the very best Mississippi
has ever had.  In his Foreword to Defiant Years, Bill Winter wrote: "This is
a book about a time and place that will forever be etched in the memory of
those of us who lived in Mississippi in the 1950's and '60's."

Defiant Years [ which opens with a Tribute to long time Black civil rights
activists Aaron Henry and Charles Evers], carries a number of testimonials
from various persons of some prominence in the Mississippi milieu -- and the
back book cover conspicuously features four of those:  General William D.
McCain, president emeritus of University of Southern Mississippi; Hodding
Carter III, of many things -- including Secretary of State for Jimmy Carter;
myself [ then John R Salter, Jr]; and  the noted  American historian from
USM, Neil R. McMillen.

Only in Mississippi.

Richard Barrett, the arch-Nazi Nationalist Movement leader from Learned,
Mississippi [near Jackson] venomously attacked Erle Johnston [and myself and
others] through this whole latter-day period.  He was especially vitriolic
toward Erle who he consistently termed a "scalawag."  Interestingly, Barrett
is a Dixie Convert -- originally from New Jersey [which, I'm sure, was glad
to see him leave long, long ago.]

As we ate that late March, 1988 evening, Erle and I and John were surrounded
in the restaurant by a lively throng of high school students celebrating a
friend's birthday.  The honoree was Black and the group very well mixed on a
Black / White basis.  As this encouraging  [but now long racially
commonplace] event proceeded, Erle, in response to a question from me,
talked about the status and health of the once huge and powerful Citizens
Councils -- no friends of his to the bitter end!  He told us they'd moved
their "national headquarters" several times and were now in very modest
quarters.  He'd been over there to look over their extremely large library.

"They sit each day at a long table and talk about the old days.  Got a lot
of books in there and sometimes they just sit and read."

"Is my book there?" I asked.

"You bet it is," he grinned.  "At least three copies."

"Bill Simmons, is he there?".

Erle nodded.  "Faithfully, from what I hear."

"And Dr. Evans?"  [Medford Evans, arch-ideologue and former college English
professor -- and  the father of the Indianapolis Star-based national
conservative writer, M. Stanton Evans.]

"He, too," said Erle.  "All the old guard."

Only a very few years after that, the Citizens Councils hung it up and
formally went out of business.

And this new thing -- the Council of Conservative Citizens?

Well, if I were a hot-eyed Reb, it wouldn't be my idea at all of the Ditch
for which to fight and perhaps die.  I'd be riding Bigger Dragons -- which
is the point of my post which now follows.

And Erle?  Erle died in 1995.  I miss him.

Hunter [Hunterbear]
=============================================


>From Hunterbear:

I was in the very process of [personally] replying to M. W.  -- when I saw
she'd posted. So I'll respond on our list.

I was discussing the old and venomous and virulent once-powerful and now
gone Citizens Council movement -- the White Councils -- that arose in
Mississippi in the wake of the 1954 Brown decision and spread out across
much of the South.  The Councils -- committed to "States Rights and Racial
Integrity" -- dominated Mississippi for many bloody years and some other
Southern Never Lands as well.  As the Civil Rights Movement proceeded
through the '60s, the Councils [and comparable groups] went into decline and
then functionally collapsed.  See my very recent post, "Mississippi
Stories -- then and now."

I mentioned in that post that a very small latter day outfit has arisen and
I characterized it in this fashion: "A much more recent and wistful
quasi-version, the pallid and not statistically significant Council of
Conservative Citizens, got a little press in the mid-Nineties but has never
amounted to much."

To respond to Ms W's post:

Trent Lott and John Ashcroft et al. have powerfully reactionary forces
behind them -- very long-standing ones -- that make the Council of
Conservative Citizens thing look piddly.  That group may have gotten Lott
some votes in Mississippi -- probably not any he wouldn't have already
secured. Maybe it garnered Ashcroft a bit of support -- but I'd see
traditionally reactionary things like corporate capitalism and old/living
racist legacies and the Christian Right and Paranoia as the basic foundation
for those Poison Ivy Entities.

The CCC may have an impressive website -- but so do some groups I know whose
membership has to reach high to hit the 100 figure. I've never gotten the
impression that its membership had any significant substance --
statistically or intellectually !  They sound like a bunch of Rebel Wanabes.
There is nothing there that even comes close to the people-strangling
magnitude of the old Citizens Council movement.  The CCC has nothing
comparable to the driving fanaticism and perverted organizing skills of the
likes of Bill Simmons.

The CCC [like the residual John Birch Society] is the antithesis of
Health -- very negatively symptomatic -- but we certainly don't want to miss
the  reality of the really dangerous dragons --  corporate capitalism and
old and entrenched racism and the Christian Right etc et al. -- and the
necessity of combating them [and their progeny such as Lott and Ashcroft] at
every point, right down to the wire.

We're going to win.

Solidarity -  Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]

Hunter Gray  [ Hunterbear ]
www.hunterbear.org  ( strawberry socialism )
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´


----- Original Message -----
From: M W
To: List
Sent: Sunday, May 26, 2002 7:43 PM
Subject: the CCC


I sent this personally to Hunter Gray, but thought I'd throw it out to the
list just for fun...  In response to a line in Hunter's 5/25/02 missive....

Hunter wrote:
"A much more recent and wistful quasi-version, the pallid and not
statistically significant Council of Conservative Citizens, got a little
press in the mid-Nineties but has never amounted to much."

My response:  Interesting statement.  Have you been to their website
recently?  Have you taken a moment to wonder how it is that the man many
times awarded by the CCC, the man who has often spoken at their events,
Trent Lott, got so much power?  Have you wondered how it is that the man
they endorsed for President, John Ashcroft, got so much power?

M.....

Hunter Gray  [ Hunterbear ]
www.hunterbear.org  ( strawberry socialism )
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´








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