Ku Klux Klan

GOP Official Who Backs White Supremacist And Violent Groups Wants To Be Next Texas Attorney General

A Republican official who is running to be Texas’ next attorney general has defended white supremacists, Mormon fundamentalists and a militant Jewish group that plotted the assassination of a US congressman, the Texas Observer has found.

The Texas Observer reports that Texas Railroad Commission chairman Barry Smitherman penned a letter to his daughter’s school last year criticizing them for using literature from the Southern Poverty Law Center in a lesson on intolerance in conjunction with the book “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

In the letter, Smitherman accused the SPLC of “intolerance” specifically because of its opposition to the Crusaders for Yahweh, the Jewish Defense League, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), Border Guardians and the Oath Keepers. So who are these innocent, patriotic groups?

  • Crusaders for Yahweh, officially known as the Crusaders For Yahweh-Aryan Nations, is a neo-Nazi group that advocates “pro-white Christian identity [and] white nationalism.” Its founder Paul Mullet has criticized the “Jewish media,” called Obama “the Antichrist,” and railed against “nigger behavior.” CrusadersForYahweh.org redirects to a Ku Klux Klan website. 

Here’s Smitherman’s letter, courtesy of Forrest Wilder:

This is Barry Smitherman, [name omitted]’s dad. I am presently helping [name omitted] with this project. While I’m incredibly supportive of reading and analyzing “To Kill a Mockingbird,” an American Classic set in the early part of the 20th century in the rural south, I’m troubled by the “Us and Them” study material provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). “To Kill a Mockingbird” not only shows us the tragedy of the Jim Crow south of 60 years ago, played out horribly in the conviction of Tom Robinson for a rape that he didn’t commit, the book also highlights the strength and integrity of Atticus Finch, some of the townspeople of Maycomb, and even apparently a few of the jury members who struggled with their verdict. At the conclusion of the book, Harper Lee has given us hope that the South is moving away from discrimination based upon skin color and toward judging a man (or woman), as Dr. King would say, “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, however, has a more radical view of racism, hate, and intolerance. A quick review of their website shows that the SPLC considers many patriot, mormon, and judeo-christian religious groups across America, including some in Texas, to be hate groups. For example, the group “Crusaders for Yahweh” is labeled by the SPLC to be a “Christian identity” group and is placed on the SPLC’s national “hate map.” The same with the “Evangelical Latter Day Saints” (mormons), the Jewish Defense League, which SPLC calls “anti-Arab”, and the Border Guardians, which is labeled by the SPLC as “anti-immigration.” Equally disturbing, the SPLC calls out groups like “We the People”, “patriots”, The “Constitution Party,” and “oath keepers” as groups which subscribe to unfounded conspiracy theories and are “opposed to one world order”.

I identify myself as a Christian and find it intolerant for the SPLC to label me as intolerant. Same with many of the patriot groups that have organized in Texas over the last several years. I personally know members of these groups and they are focused not on racism, but on balancing the federal budget and reducing or eliminating our $16 trillion national debt.

Perhaps you are unaware of the tenants of the SPLC; I encourage you to research it thoroughly during this exercise and to explain to your students that SPLC, which allegedly fights intolerance, is itself often intolerant. Thanks for your consideration of this issue. Barry

Taco-Protesting White Supremacist Burns Cross, Runs for Sheriff in Idaho

Shaun Winkler, a Republican candidate for sheriff in Kootenai County, Idaho, showed off a slice of his family life last Friday. After clearing it with friends and family, Winkler allowed reporters to attend a monthly get-together at his compound. Winkler, a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a former staffer for the Aryan Nations, was hosting an old-fashioned cross-burning.

Cameron Rasmusson of the nearby Coeur d'Alene Press attended the family get-together and filed this report
The evening began like many a family picnic elsewhere in the country. Group members barbecued and enjoyed a congenial meal with one another. Afterward, Winkler called everyone's attention to speak for about a half-hour on the racial, political and social groups they opposed. Finally, once darkness fell, the evening concluded by setting a wooden cross afire. 
Winkler is competing for the Republican nomination for sheriff in a May 15th primary. He’s expected to lose badly, but in the meantime he’s participating in candidate forums and clarifying his anti-Jew, anti-“negro,” anti-sex crime platform. Rasmusson reports:
On Monday, he participated in a candidates forum at the Blanchard Community Center. He continued to insist his Ku Klux Klan ties would not impact his performance as sheriff or make him susceptible to racial profiling. Instead, he would focus on tough stances regarding drugs and alcohol.
 
"Most people don't know that we don't just oppose the Jews and the negroes," he said. "We also oppose sexual predators and drugs of any kind."
 
Winkler added that if he had his way, perpetrators of sexual crimes would be hung immediately.
Winkler has previously made a name for himself by picketing a Martin Luther King Day celebration in January, and according to Reuters, last year “Winkler and a handful of followers demonstrated at taco stands to target Latinos in Coeur d'Alene.” Officials and residents of Kootenai County worry that Winkler “will hamper efforts to dispel an image that the northern Idaho region is a haven for hate groups and extremists.” After all, Northern Idaho has traditionally been a hotbed of radical white supremacist activity, and Winkler worked for the man long at the center of it, Richard Butler.
 
Janice Schoonover, owner of a local vacation spot, complained to Reuters that Winkler’s campaign “just stirs the pot and makes us seem like something we're not, complaining that the area hadn’t “been able to shake that stereotype of white supremacists, and it's really unfortunate and unfair.”
 
But that’s probably premature. Winkler isn’t operating alone, and the Kootenai County Constitution Party recently protested a sculpture of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu deity, calling it “an abomination.”

 

 

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