The State Bar of Michigan, representing more than 42,000 attorneys in that state, today issued a pointed apology and withdrew its honorable mention award for a short story written by an avowed white nationalist.
Bristow, now a Detroit-area attorney, led Young Americans for Freedom while he attended Michigan State University. The organization’s anti-immigrant and anti-gay campaigns under Bristow’s leadership led to its designation as a hate group in 2006 by SPLC.
A bar official suggested judges who gave Bristow the award were hoodwinked by a “potential ideological manifesto” and hate speech masquerading as art.
“We cannot apologize enough,” said State Bar President Thomas C. Rombach said, adding that the biennial short-story contest would be discontinued.
“The short story contest has been popular with many [attorney] members,” the bar association president said. “But if this result could occur even with the high caliber of the judges who conferred the award, the contest should be discontinued.”
The entries didn’t include the writer’s name, the Lansing State Journal reported today. The story was posted on the bar’s web site, but now has been removed. Printed journals, listing the contest winners, were mailed to bar members, but that publication didn’t include the honorable mention short story.
Bristow then submitted his short story to The Occidental Observer, a “white identity” journal that prints extremists’ articles and is a favorite among academic racists in America.
The embarrassment of the Michigan bar association seemed reflected in its statement.
“We deeply regret our failure to recognize the underlying symbolism in this story,” Francine Cullari, chair of the Publications and Web site Advisory Committee. “The panel of five judges approached each contest entry as an imaginative work of fiction, rather than a potential ideological manifesto.”
“As a mandatory bar, our membership holds a wide range of opinions about bias, discrimination, and remedies, and we respect those differences," Rombach said. “What we cannot and will not do is put the State Bar’s stamp of approval on hateful speech masquerading as an alleged work of art.”
The story is about Jack Schoenherr, a “soft-spoken and introverted” Michigan criminal defense attorney, who has practiced 22 years, swearing to uphold the state and U.S. constitutions. His daughter, Caroline, is murdered by an 18-year-old “tattoo-covered, drug-abusing gangbanger named Tyrone Washington.” Bristow did not specify the race of the victim or the killer in his short story.
As the fictional account unfolds, Washington is convicted of shooting Caroline in “cold-blood with a stolen revolver “ to show off his “polar bear hunting skills” to prospective members.
Bristow described Washington as showing no remorse and grinning and jeering as Schoenherr gave a victim-impact statement at sentencing.
After the trial, Schoenherr visits Washington in prison under the guise of being his appeal attorney. “You mah appointed lawyer for da’ appeal?’ Tyrone asked,” Bristow writes.
Schoenherr lectures Washington about retributive justice while, “Tyrone drooled and snorted as he slouched further in his chair.” Then Schoenherr kills Washington with a sharpened pen.
Contacted for comment about being stripped of the award, Bristow told the Lansing newspaper he had been singled out for a “politically incorrect thought-crime.”
“My tale is simply about a criminal defense attorney who becomes fed up with the legal system,” Bristow said in an emailed statement, the newspaper reported.
“My short story bested that of 26 of 30 contest submissions made by other attorneys after a panel of five judges chosen by the State Bar decided it earned fifth place in the contest based upon its merits alone,” Bristow told the newspaper
“If the State Bar officials are now getting their panties in a bunch over a mere fictional story, then I submit that it is probably a good idea that they canceled the annual contest so that they are not triggered in the future by politically incorrect thought-crimes,” he added.
It’s not the first time Bristow has infused his fiction writing with his white nationalist views. In 2010, he wrote, “White Apocalypse,” which is a violent revenge fantasy about a racist, anti-Semitic killer, who stalks a fictional organization that appears to be quite like the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Bristow’s protagonist targets the evil “Center for Diversity and Multiculturalism,” based in Atlanta, which has a legal staff and identifies hate groups. In great, grisly detail, the author describes the assassination of one of the center’s senior editors. Later asked about the parallels, Bristow snidely said he meant nothing of the kind.