Hatewatch

Arkansas House Speaker Salutes Failed Racist Candidate Billy Roper

Outspoken white racist Billy Roper, the neo-Nazi founder of White Revolution and former deputy outreach coordinator at the now-defunct National Alliance (NA), failed miserably Nov. 2 as a write-in candidate for governor of Arkansas. But he did get a nice consolation prize: a letter from the speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives, Robbie Wills, congratulating him on his efforts and wishing him better luck next time.

“It takes a special person to put their name on the ballot, and it says a lot about you that you had so many willing to help you with your campaign,” Wills’ letter reads. “You should be very proud of your campaign and you have my admiration and respect for making the effort. … I hope you will consider running for office again in the future.”

The rest is equally platitudinous and generic, and closes, “Thank you again for all you’ve done, and will continue to do, for our great State.”

Roper posted the letter on the front page of his White Revolution website under the header, “An honorable professional courtesy.”

Wills wasn’t terribly eager to address the matter when Hatewatch brought it to the attention of his office. Two E-mails to his office went unanswered. When Hatewatch telephoned, Wills’ spokeswoman Kaye Donham said the speaker would not be issuing a statement regarding his letter of encouragement to an avowed white supremacist or the fact of its posting on the candidate’s racist website. Donham said Wills “didn’t support Mr. Roper and he didn’t know anything about him. It’s just a courtesy letter. He sent a letter to all the losing candidates and a different letter to all the winning candidates.”

Wills may have been blithely unaware of Roper’s malodorous reputation, but state and national media, as well as Roper’s opponents, were well informed of it. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reprinted a portion of White Revolution’s mission statement, which builds on David Lane’s infamous “14 words” credo of white separatism: “We seek to secure the existence of our people and a future for our children by creating the opportunity for the establishment of a government which has only the interests of our group [white people] in mind,” in an Aug. 21 article about candidates’ positions on immigration. In a widely publicized letter written to members of White Revolution on Sept. 11, 2001, Roper wrote, “The enemy of our enemy is, for now at least, our friends. ...[A]nyone who is willing to drive a plane into a building to kill jews [sic] is alright [sic] by me. I wish our members had half as much testicular fortitude.”

MSNBC talk-show host Keith Olbermann designated Roper the “Worst Person in the World” in his July 16 nightly countdown. Jim Keet, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, refused to share the stage with Roper during an Oct. 12 debate. “While I value the First Amendment,” he wrote in a statement to the media, “I will not help provide a political platform for a white supremacist.” (Roper ultimately skipped the debate and Keet participated.)

Roper has been listed as a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens and once was one of National Alliance’s most visible faces. He was kicked out of NA shortly after the death of founder William Pierce in 2002 and immediately established White Revolution, which was intended to unite neo-Nazi and racist groups under a single umbrella and be “the most radical legal pro-White organization involved in public activism.”

Roper’s decision to run for governor doesn’t quite jibe with his beliefs about democracy. “In WR [White Revolution], we don’t believe that the serious threats against the very survival of our race can be solved at the ballot box. … That would be nice if it were possible, but it’s highly unlikely to be that easy,” he told Blood and Honour Radio in 2005. Instead, a “genuine revolution may be necessary, in the literal sense, if our grandchildren’s grandchildren aren’t all going to end up being niggers.”

Perhaps his decision to have a go at the governor’s mansion was based on his own jubilant prediction, just after President Obama’s election, that “[W]e are on the crest of [the storm’s] wave. People will be coming forward, shaking the cobwebs from their numbed minds, and they will need us to lead them.”

It turns out Roper was being a tad optimistic about his desirability as a political leader. Of the 781,381 votes cast for governor, Roper received a grand total of 49 (0.0063 percent). That trailed the 66 votes received by Elvis D. Presley – full name Joey Elvis Dane Presley, a car body repair specialist whose entire platform consisted of two sentences on a sheet of notebook paper.

Editor's note: the above paragraph was corrected to reflect the fact the Mr. Presley was a real candidate. Thank you to those commenters who noted our error.