The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Mississippi Pol Said to be Governor’s Ally Speaks to Racist Group

By Heidi Beirich on June 29, 2009 - 4:21 pm, Posted in Anti-Black

This past weekend, the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) held its annual conference at the Cabot Lodge on the campus of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. The “surprise guest,” Mississippi State Sen. Lydia Chassaniol (R-14th District), was introduced by emcee Bill Lord — the CCC’s field director who is known for his racist “Martin Luther Coon” jokes — as “the right hand to the Governor [Haley Barbour].” Lord also identified Chassaniol as a “member” of the CCC chapter in Carroll County, one of a handful of Central Mississippi counties she represents.

ChassaniolIn an E-mail, Chassaniol confirmed to Hatewatch that she is a member of the CCC, which she described as a “conservative organization.” She also wrote, “I do not consider myself racist,” adding that she believes “a person’s membership in any organization is a private matter.” She said that she had worked for years “with the children of the Mississippi Delta” and had spoken to the Greenwood Voters League even though, she said, it has “no members who are Caucasian.”

Gov. Barbour’s website shows that he has worked with Chassaniol in her capacity as chair of the Senate Tourism Committee. A May 12 press release from the governor’s office says Barbour “praised” Chassaniol for her contributions to a new slogan for the state’s highway signs, “Birthplace of America’s Music.” Ironically, the music the signs refer to — “from the blues, to country, to rock and roll, to gospel” — was largely produced by African Americans, who the CCC has described on its website as a “retrograde species of humanity.”

Barbour_music

Calls to Barbour’s office for comment were not returned. The Mississippi state GOP office said it was unable to comment on the matter because their press officer was out of the office.

The CCC has been roundly condemned by prominent conservative organizations and the national GOP. The Conservative Political Action Committee called the group “racist” in 1998 and barred it from CPAC conferences. The Republican National Committee “forcefully” condemned the CCC in 1999, with its chairman urging Republicans not to join or attend its functions. Around the same time, then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) was embroiled in a national brouhaha over his purported membership in the CCC. Lott gave shifting explanations of his relationship to the group, but ultimately denied being a member.

Those actions are not surprising, given the guttural nature of the CCC’s racism and anti-Semitism. The CCC’s columnists have written that non-white immigration is turning the U.S. population into a “slimy brown mass of glop.” Its website has run photographic comparisons of pop singer Michael Jackson and a chimpanzee. It opposes “forced integration” and decries racial intermarriage for any reason. The CCC has lambasted black people as “genetically inferior,” complained about “Jewish power brokers,” called gay people “perverted sodomites,” and even named the late Lester Maddox, the baseball bat-wielding, arch-segregationist former governor of Georgia, “Patriot of the Century.”

Barbour had his own encounter with the CCC in 2003. As a gubernatorial candidate, he attended that year’s Black Hawk Barbecue in Carroll County, sponsored by the CCC to raise money for private academy school buses, where he was photographed with Bill Lord, the emcee for this past weekend’s event. Although he decried the group’s segregationist views as “indefensible” after that photo was posted on the CCC’s website, Barbour declined to ask to have it taken down. It was a matter of principle, Barbour explained. “Once you start down the slippery slope of saying, ‘That person can’t be for me,’ then where do you stop?” he asked. “Old segregationists? Former Ku Klux Klan?”

For her part, Chassaniol gave a rabble-rousing speech on “Cultural Heritage in Mississippi.” In a brief history of the state since 1540, Chassaniol complained that the U.S. was in decline, as evidenced by tributes to Michael Jackson, a “pedophile who’s being celebrated.” She indicated that the government wants to “take from those who have and give to those who don’t want to work for it.” And she worried that the 2010 national census might hand over government “to the radical left.”

A sponsor of two harsh anti-immigrant bills, Chassaniol encouraged CCC members to take part in upcoming anti-tax “Tea Parties,” which she praised in a recent editorial in her local Winona, Miss., newspaper. CCC members have crashed these events in the past.

Chassaniol ended her talk by encouraging her listeners to embrace their southern heritage. Describing the CCC as “lone voices crying in the wilderness,” Chassaniol ended on a positive note, “Seeing all of you here today gives me hope.”

Janet Smith contributed to this report.

  • Sherry

    “We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime”

    Dude? The whites…weren’t here…first? So…in effect, America did not start out as a European majority. (See there were these red people once…) Because it is not the same continent. I think I need to get some pals together and yell at the CCC: GO BACK TO EUROPE. GET ON THAT MAYFLOWER N GO.

  • TY

    BEHOLDER When you write reparations for slaves anyone.. why a person such as yourself would not be more specific in your sentences and why when I ask you question you jump to another page? Out of the lengthy comments I have mad eyou cannot answer one of my concerns? Do you find that as an America my concerns are therfor not valid? You have a right to ignore us I just wondered if you were aware that this is what you have been doing. I see you are a very active person and quite busy. Good For You.

  • TY

    FARRAHAN notes on..when are we going to be taught more about the Organization that Farrahkan and his followers are apart of. I think it is Black Supremamcy and yet I hardly see anything of significance on this subject.
    I have also asked several times now that in the articles on this site when the Editor speaks of minorityes, of WHOM is he speaking of WHO is the minority or minorities that he speak of? The SPLC speak out on behalf of minoritites but again WHO ARE THESE MINORITIES? Do you support only minorties of long ago or who the minorties really is today? Also why do you speak out on White Supremamcy yet you do not speak out about other Supremacy such as black, Hispanic groups and much more.

  • Snorlax

    “The CCC is not a white supremacist group simply because you say so”

    No, they’re a white supremacist group because of what THEY say.

    Mike Menkes, you get a F for reading comprehension. Your assignment is to re-read this article, because you obviously did not read it well the first time.

    You’d better start proofreading your blog posts to save your dignity.

  • beholder

    @Mike

    You are certainly right about one thing, sir. CCC is not a white supremacist group because SPLC says so. CCC is a white supremacist group because the CCC itself says so. This is an exact quote from the “statement of principles”:

    “We believe the United States is a European country and that Americans are part of the European people. We believe that the United States derives from and is an integral part of European civilization and the European people and that the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character. We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called “affirmative action” and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.”

    I am not part of SPLC and cannot speak for the organization of Mr. Dees. However, I don’t see anyone here refusing your right to free speech.

  • Mike Menkes

    The CCC is not a white supremacist group simply because you say so… Some believe the Roman Catholic church is a hate group because of their scripture-based stance against homosexuality… Where’s the freedom of speech, tolerance and diversity you speak of when convenient to forward your views?… Come on Mr Dees, you’re better than this… You need to start proofreading your articles to save your dignity sir…

  • http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/jim_benton/ Prup (aka Jim Benton)

    The most important part of this story wasn’t mentioned. Barbour is not just an ‘obscure Governor’ but someone reliably reported to be already tuning up a Presidential Campaign in 2012 — and with the gonadal disintegration of Mark Sanford and John Ensign, has become the only important Southern Candidate in the race. For President Obama to be faced with someone at least close to the CofCC would be a delightful thought to those of us who see the Republicans going the way of the Federalists and wish they’d ‘hurry up already.’

  • beholder

    Reparations for descendent of slaves, anyone?

  • Kazure

    “She also wrote, “I do not consider myself racist,” adding that she believes “a person’s membership in any organization is a private matter.”

    Hmmm. Does Chassaniol not understand what a career in PUBLIC service means exactly?

    It’s really sad, really, to finally understand that a bit of this is just desperation – an attempt to hold on to a failed “reality.” My particular concern is for the spawn of these individuals, who when, in adulthood, after the “elders” are gone, find themselves so marginalized and deluded and lonely, they turn to tragic remedies to reconcile with the true reality.

  • Kate De Braose

    It is still absurd, in the nation that was supposedly founded on freedom, that the philosophies of natural and inherited privilege still exist.

    Evidently the urge to enslave our neighbors enjoys awe and admiration in what is left of the philosophies of the American Old Southern states, and now has a measure of control over the Republican Party.

  • beholder

    @John

    Right, to spend money on death and destruction is patriotic ($3 trillion to watch Saddam do the Spandau ballet), but to spend money on life and wellbeing ($1.2 trillion to give every American health insurance) is anti-American socialism.

    Makes perfect sense.

  • John

    Of course they didn’t speak up.W was throwing money away in a useless war.Ya can’t get much more ‘murican and godly than that.

  • kwistach haderach

    It is so nice to see the destruction of the mostly incorrect right. they are showing themselves for the ignorant beasts that they are. They seem to have no understanding of that systems of vacuum tubes that is the interwebs or the mmarvel of video and audio tape.

  • livefree

    While I certainly disagree with the organization, I think it’s fair to mention that former Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove has attended the Blackhawk rallies as well. You mention that it was an issue in the 2003 campaign with Barbour, so I think the point should be included.

  • beholder

    What gets me about these tea party trencherman (who seem to think any of us actually like taxes) is that none of them spoke up during the past eight years. Is it this Administration’s fault that W threw our economy into ruin through supply side economics, jingoism and abject lack of regulatory oversight?

  • http://exaggerator.blogdrive.com/ The Exaggerator

    And speaking of the so-called “tea party” movement, it’s worth knowing that the so-called “American Family Association” (itself based out of Tupelo, MS) has called a new round of “tea parties” for the July 4th holiday.

    And are promoting such as being one with the defence (or so the AFA thinks) of G-d, Country and Family Values (in the last instance, the AFA’s preferred model being White Low Church Christian such, IMHO).

    How many of this new series of “tea parties” are going to be attracting the weird and unwholesome from the ranks of “True American” and “patriot” Zealotry and True Belief? (The prospect will be well worth watching, especially among such pushing racist and nativist views and articles of faith.)

  • beholder

    “The Mississippi state GOP office said it was unable to comment on the matter because their press officer was out of the office.”

    We need to press these people for a comment relentlessly. Any press person has a cell phone or why would they be spokesperson? Very weak.

  • http://oldhickorysweblog.blogspot.com/ Bruce Miller

    As a Millsaps alumni, when I saw this article I was on the verge of firing off an e-mail to one of the College Board of Regents asking him what the [Cheney] was going on there that the school was letting the White Citizens Council hold their organizational meetings there. After that I was going to work on starting a donors’ boycott. Because there are plenty of cow pastures they can hold their meetings in, they don’t need to be meeting on the Millsaps campus.

    Then I realized that the Cabot Lodge is a hotel that is located on part of the Millsaps Campus and I believe the last I heard the college leases the land to the hotel. They do advertise themselves as “Cabot Lodge Millsaps”. But the hotel is not run by the college.

    Millsaps, a Methodist liberal arts college, was rather ridiculously known as a “radical” school in the 1960s because they integrated before being forced to do so by the courts. The school is proud of its high academic standards and its progressive reputation on race.

    The hotel wasn’t there when I was in school. But I sure that if we’d had gotten wind that the White Citizens Council was meeting there, there would have been a counter-demonstration. It wouldn’t surprise me at all, though, if the White Citizens Council (I still call them by their more descriptive earlier name) didn’t select that hotel specifically to tarnish the Millsaps name a bit.