Legislator under fire for helping ‘hate group’

The Associated Press, Mar. 7, 20032
http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/

A state lawmaker is being criticized by a civil rights group for reserving a room at the state Capitol for what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a white supremacist hate group.

Rep. Dick Brewbaker, R-Montgomery, said he reserved the Capitol auditorium for a League of the South conference on Saturday because he made a promise to a constituent who is a member of the group.

“I am not a member of the League of the South and do not endorse their views,” Brewbaker told the Montgomery Advertiser on Thursday. “I’m a state representative, and if one of my constituents asked me to reserve that auditorium for the Southern Poverty Law Center, I would do so even though I do not endorse their view on the Ten Commandments or a great many other things.”

Richard Cohen, general counsel for the SPLC, said he notified Brewbaker more than a month ago of the league’s status as a hate group.

“The League of the South endorses Southern secession and is a white supremacist organization,” Cohen wrote in a Feb. 7 letter. “In official statements, the League has said that its purpose is to ensure `the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic people and their institutions.'”

League of the South State Director Steven Fitts said his group doesn’t support cultural dominance, but rather the cultural survival of Anglo-Celtic people and their institutions.

“Anybody who wants to call the League of the South a hate group should talk to our black members,” Fitts said. “I’m sure they would disagree. We have black members and Jewish members who support the right of Southerners to survive as a people.”

Larry Sykes, one of two black members in the Montgomery chapter, said the group is not racist.

“I see them as being Americans, decent people who are concerned about the Constitution of the United States and Alabama,” he said.

Cohen disagreed, saying the group has said segregation “is not evil or wrong,” that interracial marriage is acceptable “under no circumstances,” and that slavery is “God-ordained.”

“Mr. Brewbaker ought not lend his name to a group that promotes racism,” Cohen said.

Said Brewbaker, “I am unwilling to declare some people racist just because the SPLC says they are.”

Cohen said he provided Brewbaker “extensive material proving that they (members of the League of the South) were racist, and instead of insisting they respond to the specifics of our articles, he simply took their word that they are nice guys.”

Brewbaker said the evidence provided, copies of a magazine published by the SPLC that tracks hate groups, was not convincing.

“(Cohen’s) evidence were four issues of the Intelligence Report, which would hardly be an unbiased source in my opinion,” he said.

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