Hatewatch

David Duke Conference Plans Set Off Brouhaha

The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center has been active in Memphis for nearly 27 years, but finds itself only lately on the receiving end of some decidedly hostile rhetoric. Since the social justice group objected last week to an upcoming European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) conference in nearby Olive Branch, Miss., a deluge of verbal brickbats has poured in.

“You worthless unintelligent subhuman nigger loving piece of shit,” one man wrote to Jacob Flowers, the group’s executive director.

EURO was founded by David Duke, the onetime Klan leader, Louisiana state representative, and federal prison inmate (he served more than a year after raising money from his followers for the “cause” and then using it instead for gambling and remodeling his home). The organization’s conference is scheduled for Nov. 7-9 at the Whispering Woods Hotel & Conference Center a few miles from Memphis. Two churches that were going to conduct services at the hotel on Sunday have canceled because of Duke’s group being there. The hotel’s general manager resigned, and Flowers and his organization began to receive nasty E-mails and phone calls.

Duke wrote on his website that he is the conference organizer, which he will co-host with veteran anti-Semitic activist Willis Carto; white supremacist website creator and former Alabama Klan boss Don Black; long-time Georgia white supremacist Edward Fields, a convicted church-bombing conspirator; and James Edwards, host of radical-right Memphis radio show “The Political Cesspool.” The cost to attend is $75 per person or $100 per family — a 40% discount offered by the hotel, according to Duke. He’s promising “non-stop speeches, music and media presentations.”

Whispering Woods officials said they were unaware of the nature of the conference when a contract was signed. And they said they are legally obligated to honor it. The timing of the general manager’s resignation was coincidental, they said, and was unrelated to booking the Duke group’s meeting.

Black’s website, called Stormfront.org, then posted contact information for the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center and Flowers, who was accused of sparking the manager’s resignation. That apparently set off the storm of attacks. “It is obviously you that is the bigot here,” one man said in an E-mail to Flowers. “I hope this group still comes to the area because thanks to you I will be first in line at the door to attend.”

Wrote another: “If you can’t see that you and your ilk are creating two separate societies in this nation you are blind!! I can only pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would take the scales off your eyes!!”

And from a woman: “I shall be sure to spend my ‘white’ vacation dollars in a town that doesn’t discriminate against someone because of skin color. Because of your bigotry, I shall send David Duke $100 to help defray the cost of the conference… . Thanks for opening my eyes as too [sic] HOW bigoted Memphis really is.”

Flowers said the E-mails, phone calls and sentiments some have expressed on the Stormfront website are “nothing that we’re worried about.” He’s most bothered, he said, by the racists’ accusations that his organization made harassing calls to the hotel general manager who resigned. That’s something that a peace-promoting group would not do, he said.