HARRISON: signs of the times
Last October, a billboard with the message "Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White
" went up in Harrison, a town with an ugly racial history
that happens to also be where KKK leader Thom Robb
, who lives nearby, keeps his post office box (the KKK continues to make its presence felt in the town
, which has about three dozen black people among its 13,000 residents). The sign stirred up controversy
and an attempt to re-write
a more harmonious message via graffiti — Chad Watkins
has been charged with painting over "Anti-White" and changing it to "Love." The vandalized sign was taken down, restored and put back up. Meanwhile, someone leaked Watkins' name
to the KKK before the charge was made public by the police.
Now a new sign has gone in below the billboard that reads "Beautiful Town, Beautiful People, No Wrong Exits, No Bad Neighborhoods"
and has a picture of a white family. Hmmm. The billboard says it's sponsored by the Harrison Area Business Owners
and has a link to a website
, HarrisonArkansas.Info, which appears to be relatively new and still under construction. The website's motto: "Beautiful Town, Beautiful People, Beautiful Legacy
" (emphasis mine). Yeah, so about that legacy. ... Beginning with run-of-the-mill town boosterism, the site turns out to be (surprise!) cozy with white supremacy.
The city started out with a very conservative residential and business base. ... [Gerald L.K.} Smith was in association with Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Elizabeth Dilling, Father Coughlin, and others known for their pro-American activities. Smith was an early supporter of local Boone county preacher Thom Robb and all have been labeled by some as racist. Though Lindbergh, Ford, Dilling, and Coughlin are all deceased, they maintained at the time as well as Thom Robb does today, (He also serves as the national director of The Knights Party) to be pro-white only.
Harrison is most often mentioned in the news due to the location of the organization’s headquarters 2 miles from Zinc and 17 miles from Harrison. Robb had his office on Stephenson street just off the square in Harrison for many years as well as overlooking Harrison on Harrison Hill but moved it outside of the city to have room to build a church and family retreat to host conferences. Some in the city resent the attention he brings while most are either ambivalent or quiet supporters.
Ugh. That list of prominent Americans who had fascist sympathies will be familiar to anyone who has ever waded through the muck of racist propaganda.
Maybe racist billboarders have been convinced that more subtle racial coding will be better for business
. The strange "No Wrong Exits" bit is particularly creepy in Harrison, given the horrific history of the forced expulsion
of blacks out of the town a century ago.