Politics: They failed at building their own third-party apparatus, so they decided to aid his Reform Party takeover.
Los Angeles Times July 30, 2000
By Leonard Zeskind
Despite the late-night television jokes about Pat Buchanan's speeches sounding better in the original German, few expected that white nationalists could actually bedevil his candidacy. Yet a recent newspaper story exposing the presence of racist cadres burrowed into the Reform Party has forced Buchanan to clean house and to formally denounce "bigotry." This, in turn, has caused some erstwhile supporters to walk away from his campaign. Leaving one to wonder: Who's left?
A cyberspace windstorm swept through Buchanan's camp after the Washington Post reported on July 23 that "extreme right organizations" were transforming the Reform Party into a haven for racists and anti-Semites. Among those cited were the Liberty Lobby–whose "anti-Zionism" is a thin rhetorical gloss over an abiding anti-Semitism–and the Council of Conservative Citizens, a racist outfit descended from the old white Citizens Councils. After years of trying unsuccessfully to build their own third-party apparatus, the nationalist crowd decided to aid Buchanan's takeover of the Reform Party, according to a report issued by the Center for New Community in Chicago (http://www.newcomm.org).
Buchanan roundly denied this on his campaign Web site: "For the record, I have never been a member of any of these organizations. . . .Nor, to my knowledge, does any leader of my campaign belong to any, though my good friend Sam Francis, the columnist, writes for CCC" (the Council of Conservative Citizens).
If Buchanan is ever actually elected to any public office, one can only hope his "knowledge" will grow. His "good friend" Francis, for example, doesn't just "write" for the Council of Conservative Citizens, he is a member of its national board and editor of its tabloid-style periodical. One of Francis' more memorable assertions: "We as whites under assault need to . . . reassert our identity and our solidarity, and we need to do so in explicitly racial terms, through the articulation of a racial consciousness as whites.” Francis long had been urging Buchanan to break with the Republicans and adopt a less equivocal racialism.
Certainly, one thing is indisputable: Ever since Buchanan led President Reagan to honor the graves at Bitburg–the S.S. among them–Buchanan has been the darling of anti-Semites. Many worked quietly on his behalf in the 1992 and 1996 Republican campaigns, though some were ejected by the Buchanan campaign after their presence became known.
In the current campaign season, Buchanan has urged Reform Party leaders to "disassociate" themselves from the purveyors of "racial filth." His sister and chief of staff, Bay Buchanan, purged a raft of volunteers at the national office, including a British expatriate, Mark Cotterill, who, as coordinator of the American Friends of the British National Party, also raises funds for his own white nationalist party at home. While Cotterill took his dismissal with the equanimity of a proper British gentleman, others on the far right did not. One particularly sour Web posting by the Militia of Montana complained to Pat Buchanan that he had sold them out: "We have taken many risks to stand up and do the right thing for your campaign. And now you give us a kiss good-night at the door?"
The loss of the Montana gang may not mean much to Buchanan, but a wholesale retreat by David Duke supporters and other assorted white patriots might leave the candidate on a much smaller piece of political terrain. Buchanan had hoped to attract Republicans unhappy with the compassionate side of George W. Bush's conservatism, but that isn't happening. Buchanan had even hoped to win Democrats unhappy with Al Gore's free-trade stance, but Ralph Nader has a better chance with those voters. Nor have the traditional members of the Reform Party stuck with Buchanan.
So if some of the white nationalists are unhappy, who will remain to pass out the bumper stickers and get out the vote for Buchanan? A handful of paleo-conservative intellectuals can't do it.
Never fear for the intrepid commentator, however. Nationalist insiders insist that for every militiaman who turns in his musket, many more will champion Buchanan's cause. They will stay at least through November, hoping the Reform Party draws more than 5% of the vote, and with it the promise of Federal Election Commission money for future elections.
There is, after all, David Duke himself waiting patiently in the wings. And if that doesn't raise the hair on the back of your neck, nothing will.
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Leonard Zeskind, a 1998 Macarthur Foundation Fellow, Is
Completing a Book on White Nationalism for Farrar Straus Giroux