Former Congressman Tancredo to Address White Supremacists

Editor's Note: On Wednesday — a day after failing to respond to Hatewatch's request for comment — former congressman Tom Tancredo's Team America PAC wrote Hatewatch to say, "Tom Tancredo is not speaking at the Council of Conservative Citizens" (CCC). The unsigned email did not say if Tancredo had withdrawn from the speaking engagement after receiving widespread criticism or had never agreed to speak. Hatewatch has in its possession a hard copy of the CCC newsletter, The Council Reporter, dated Spring 2012. Its front page article, about the CCC's upcoming national conference, says, "This year's conference features former Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-CO) as the Saturday luncheon speaker" and features a color photo of Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo has no more secrets.

The former Republican congressman from Colorado, known for his biting anti-immigration rhetoric and campaign ads suggesting Latino immigrants are rapists and drug dealers, is scheduled to be the luncheon speaker at next month’s annual conference for the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). The theme of the conference? “Multiculturalism – the Death of America.”

Sharing the dais with Tancredo will be a rogue’s gallery of the racist right, including James Edwards, who hosts the white nationalist Political Cesspool radio show; Don Black, the former Klansman best known for creating Stormfront.org, the first major Internet hate site; and Leonard Wilson, a longtime segregationist and Alabama commander for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a neo-Confederate group that, like Tancredo, staunchly opposes immigration.

For those who have watched Tancredo go through endless contortions to distance himself from his racist friends, speaking at a CCC conference seems to be a turning point. The time has passed to apologize for the company he keeps.

And what company it is.

Tancredo was already honorary chairman of Youth for Western Civilization (YWC), an ultraconservative student group that has actively cultivated relationships with white nationalist organizations such as the racist League of the South (LOS), whose leader Michael Hill recently penned an essay describing how white people are endowed with a “God-ordained superiority” and professing that it was a “monumental lie” that all men are created equal. In 2006, Tancredo delivered an anti-immigrant speech and sang “Dixie” at a barbecue advertised by the South Carolina chapter of the LOS.

But the CCC?

“Hey, it wasn’t like he was fooling anyone with his racist trash talk and associations, but [Tancredo] can’t hide it anymore,” One People’s Project, which first reported on Tancredo’s scheduled speech, wrote on its blog. “Now he needs to explain to everyone why we should still take him seriously.”

Tancredo did not return telephone messages seeking comment on his speech next month in Nashville. But with all that’s known about the CCC, he would be hard pressed for excuses if he still wanted to call himself anything other than a white nationalist. Since the late 1990s, when prominent Republican politicians like former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi and Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia gave important speeches to the group, the veneer that once concealed the CCC’s racism have all but dissolved.

Founded in 1985 by Gordon Baum, a workers’ compensation attorney and longtime white-power activist, the CCC rose from the ashes of the White Citizens Councils, a coalition of white supremacist groups formed throughout the South to defend school segregation after the Supreme Court outlawed it in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision. In recent years, the CCC has devolved into a sounding board for crude racist jokes and baseless claims about blacks.

Somehow Tancredo has managed to stay above that fray, despite a history of racist comments, including one made in the midst of a political campaign in Illinois that vilified immigrants as an invading force “coming here to kill you and to kill me and our families.”

But breaking bread with the CCC? Without a doubt, Tancredo has found his comfort zone.