RACE AND HARRISON: This billboard stirred new talk about Harrison's racial history. It now will be site of a statewide conference on brotherhood.
The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission
will hold its annual youth summit, "Life After Hate," April 2 in Harrison, a city roiled historically and recently by racial controversy
The news has to be thrilling to Thom Robb,
the KKK leader who lives nearby and uses Harrison as a mailing address.
Details on the event are here.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette gave the event feature treatment
this morning (subscription required.) with all the racial context and well-intentioned statements of Commission leaders and Harrison citizens working to buff up the brotherly image of the city, which numbers about three dozen black people among its 12,000 residents. Naturally, Thom Robb got a lot of attention, just as happened when white supremacists hijacked
, in the words of one attendee, a recent Black History Month event at the Harrison library.
A statewide event with front-page advance treatment all but guarantees broader coverage at the actual event in April. Thom Robb and camp followers are undoubtedly already at work printing up T-shirts, bumper stickers and pamphlets. Billy Roper, too.
"Balanced" coverage will require interviews with their likes along with chats with the idealistic youngsters and well-meaning adults. We'll hear more from a KKK leader who claims he's really about civility. It's the other side, see, that's all about division. Sigh.
The Southern Poverty Law Center
can give you a clearer picture of what Robb is about than his modulated statements to press on occasions such as this. An example is this article on Robb's idea
of proper training for white youth, a Klan camp he promoted last summer on his Arkansas property. The camp was to be the work of the Southern Cross Training Institute,
an organization familiar to the SPLC.
It’s also not the first time someone on the radical right has operated a Soldiers of the Cross Training Institute with the purpose of preparing a new racist leadership cadre. Kenneth Goff, an early ideologue of Christian Identity – a racist theology that’s been popular among Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other white nationalists for decades – founded a Colorado-based, Soldiers of the Cross Training Institute in the 1950s.
Goff’s SOTC trained Christian Identity leaders, including Dan Gayman, a well-known anti-Semitic leader during the 1980s.
A 1969 Soldiers of the Cross newsletter penned by Goff describes black civil rights protesters as seeking to “submerge our culture and religious heritage under a flood of cannibalism, voodooism and beastly jungle sex orgies.”
The message has been scrubbed up for media today, but there's a thin veneer to the civility.