Dylann Roof, photo from his website
Sadly, the shooting deaths of nine African-Americans in Charleston apparently were rooted in a white nationalist web site run by the Council of Conservative Citizens. The president of that group is a former St. Louis, Missouri, school board member who now lives in Longview and is a political donor to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott, among others.
In a manifesto that became public this weekend, accused Emanuel AME church shooter Dylann Roof said he became convinced of the need to start a race war after reading about black on white crime on a web site run by the Council. In response, Council President Earl P. Holt III of Longview issued a statement condemning the killings as “despicable,” while at the same time defending Roof’s views on race.
It has been brought to the attention of the Council of Conservative Citizens that Dylann Roof — the alleged perpetrator of mass murder in Charleston this week — credits the CofCC website for his knowledge of black-on-white violent crime.
This is not surprising: The CofCC is one of perhaps three websites in the world that accurately and honestly report black-on-white violent crime, and in particular, the seemingly endless incidents involving black-on-white murder…
The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website.
The Guardian newspaper this morning reported that Holt has donated $65,000 to several Republican presidential candidates, including $8,500 Cruz, who is refunding the money. A quick search of the Texas Ethics Commission site turned up a $500 donation from Holt to Abbott in 2013, as well as contributions to state legislators, Matthew Schaefer, Konni Burton, and David Simpson, as well as Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeff Brown. Holt also was among a group of “grassroots Texans” who signed a letter in 2012 urging David Dewhurst to debate Cruz in the U.S. Senate race. (I’m sure the refund checks will be in the mail by the end of today, and in fairness to the candidates, few campaigns can vet the background of all their donors.)
Holt may have found the Charleston crime despicable, but he has written in the past about obtaining a concealed carry license specifically because of his belief in black on white crime. Duluth, Minnesota, Mayor Don Ness in 2012 backed a local campaign that erected billboards that read, “It’s HARD to see racism when you’re white.” Holt wrote an open letter to Ness that opened with, “Count me as someone who is grateful for my ‘White Skin Privilege.’
It has also made me recognize the absolute necessity of purchasing a great many weapons, and becoming proficient with them. It has further convinced me to get a concealed-carry license … Finally, what my WSP has really done for me is make me (and nearly everyone I know) a conservative to the right of Rush Limbaugh, who will never vote for a “Democrat” as long as I live, and who cannot wait to use my C/C License when the opportunity presents itself…
Holt was a member of the St. Louis school board from 1989 until 1993 and opposed school busing and favored school segregation, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He also was a host of a talk-radio program called Right at Night and was retained by the radio station despite an off-the-air racist tirade. Holt for a number of years has been associated with the Council of Conservative Citizens and currently lists himself as president. The Council’s statement of principles sounds much like the Texas Ordinance of Secession from 1861. It states that the United States is a Christian country, is a European county and should avoid any mixing of races or cultures and oppose same-sex marriage.
Former Governor Rick Perry, trying to reboot his presidential aspirations, took heat late last week for calling the shooting an “accident” instead of an “incident” and for crab walking around the idea that Roof was a man on drugs and that the shooting shouldn’t be used as an excuse to ban firearms. However, to Perry’s credit, in the interview he flubbed, he called the church shooting “a crime of hate,” even though he would not call it terrorism. He followed up on Saturday by calling the Charleston shooting “an absolute heinous hate crime.”
Keep in mind, Perry in his first full year as governor signed the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act to strengthen penalties against people who commit offenses motivated by the victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual preference, age or national origin.
When I was a young reporter covering stories in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, I saw numerous marches for civil rights that were opposed by the Ku Klux Klan, including one in the hometown of former Dallas Cowboys running back Herschel Walker where Klansmen and women threw human feces at the marchers. One of my first assignments for the Fort Worth-Star Telegram when I returned to Texas in 1981 was to monitor a Klan cross-burning in the Trinity River bottom near Arlington. Over the years, I had come to hope hate crimes such as the murder of James Byrd were isolated incidents, but a culture of hatred seems inescapable as part of the underbelly of America – and not just in the South.
A FBI table for hate crimes in 2013, the most recent year currently available, showed Texas had 132 reported hate crime incidents. But that did not put the state near the top of the list. California had 843; New York, 615; Ohio, 370, as just a couple of examples. What can’t be gleaned from the statistics, though, is whether people outside of the South are more apt to report a hate crime.
Using Texas Department of Public Safety statistics, I was able to put together a series of charts showing hate crime in Texas has been on the decline in recent years.
As you can see, the number of hate crime incidents in Texas is down, but without any doubt the targets of these crimes are overwhelmingly African-Americans, Hispanics and gay men, as the chart below shows.
There are indeed some hate crimes committed toward whites because they are white, but the numbers are far lower than for blacks. Also, note that Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham blamed the shootings on anti-Christian sentiment, “There are people out there looking for Christians to kill them.” Again, there are some hate crimes are directed at Christians, but if you look at the DPS statistics, hate crimes, at least in Texas, are more likely to be directed toward people of the Jewish and Islamic faiths.
As with the men who attacked the Draw Muhammad event in Garland, Dylann Roof can be described as a lone wolf extremist – just like the men who dragged James Byrd Jr. to death behind a pickup truck. Whether an Islamic radical or a white racist, the lone wolves are the pups of a wolf pack of hate.