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  •   Conservative Group Accused Of Ties to White Supremacists

    By Thomas B. Edsall
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, December 19, 1998; Page A08

    The Southern Poverty Law Center yesterday charged that the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), which has sponsored speeches by a number of prominent elected officials, is the "reincarnation of the infamous White Citizens Councils."

    In a report called "Sharks in the Mainstream," the center contended that "many members" of the CCC have ties to the Ku Klux Klan and the National Association for the Advancement of White People, both "openly white supremacist organizations." The White Citizens Councils and the KKK were the two major Southern organizations opposed to desegregation. The councils attracted members from local businesses, Chambers of Commerce and country governments.

    The CCC has hosted speeches by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice (R) and Rep. Robert L. Barr Jr. (R-Ga.).

    "The CCC has tried for years to pass itself off as a respectable, mainstream organization," said Joe Roy, director of the center's Intelligence Project. "But the fact is that this group is shot through with white supremacist views, members and political positions."

    The center provided material from the CCC's Web site that included a column by H. Millard, titled "Genocide and the Tan Everyman." Millard writes:

    "Those elites pushing for this neo-melting pot should leave their fou fou dining rooms and talk to their chef who will probably tell them that you can't throw every ingredient into the pot or the recipe will be ruined and what will emerge will just be a slimy brown mass of glop. . . . The problem for white people is that since they're only 10 percent of the humans on Earth, they are going to have to struggle mightily to survive the Neo-Melting Pot and avoid being part of the brown glop."

    Gordon Lee Baum, chief executive of the CCC and a former official of the Citizens Councils, said in an interview that many of the specific allegations in the center's report are wrong, including charges that he used the word "nigger" and that he attempted to recruit to the CCC's national board a leader of the fascist Aryan Nations.

    "I did not use the N word," Baum declared. He said he did meet briefly with Vince Reed, head of security for the Aryan Nations, but he disputed the center's claim that he invited Reed onto the CCC board.

    Baum said Reed, a "tattooed, hulking brute of a fellow," arrived at Baum's door in 1995 and asked to talk with him. Baum said he was very suspicious. "I told him what we were about" and, he said, stressed that any drive to achieve social change must be conducted "legally." Baum said the thought that he would invite Reed onto the CCC board is "laughable."

    The Southern Poverty Law Center, a controversial, liberal organization that tracks conservative militia and "patriotic" organizations, wrote in its report that the chairman of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the CCC, a man who calls himself Mark Cerr, is, in fact, Mark Cotterill.

    "Cotterill is well-known in Britain, which he left three years ago," the report said. "There, he was associated with the neo-fascist National Front and its successor the British National Party, as well as editor of a far-right periodical, Right Now. He also has been linked to the Ulster Defense Association."

    Cerr-Cotterill said this description is generally accurate, except that he did not edit Right Now. "They certainly do their homework," he said. Cerr-Cotterill said he uses a "pseudonym for political reasons": His boss and wife do not want his political activities publicly linked with his private and work lives.

    In a 1992 speech in Greenwood, Miss., Lott told CCC members: "The people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy. Let's take it in the right direction, and our children will be the beneficiaries." Barr spoke on impeachment earlier this year at a CCC meeting in Charleston, S.C. Both Barr and Lott have since renounced the group and the racial views of many of its leaders.

    Baum complained about the portrayal of the CCC in recent press coverage. On the CCC's Web site, however, the group offers "greetings to all our new visitors who have discovered us thanks to the publicity provided Friday by The Washington Post. We are pleased to have the opportunity to get our message out to the American people. Our president, Gordon Baum, will be giving interviews in the print and broadcast media in the coming days."

    Cerr-Cotterill said that prior to the news stories, the Web site of Washington, D.C.'s Capital branch of the CCC had 4,000 "hits" in four months. During the last week alone, there have been 10,000 hits at the Web site, he said.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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