Video: Steve Smith talks about the horrors of “white guilt” in a May 2008 TV interview
In a frightening demonstration of the mainstreaming of white nationalism (and also the mainstreaming of terrible journalism), two Pennsylvania newspapers on Thursday published articles referring to a white supremacist group, the European American Action Coalition (EAAC), as a “white people’s rights group.”
Daniel Denvir at the Philadelphia City Paper has the scoop:
A wire story in today’s Philadelphia Daily News refers to an organization led by Pennsylvania white supremacist Steve Smith as a “white people’s rights group” and does not discuss Smith's long history with the neo-Nazi movement.
The article, about a dispute over an event permit, was originally published in the Scranton Times-Tribune and picked up by the Associated Press.
Denvir asked the Daily News, the Times Tribune, and the AP how the “white people’s rights group” descriptor slipped by:
“I suggest you call AP and the Scranton Times-Tribune,” says Daily News city editor Gar Joseph.
The Times-Tribune did not respond to a request for comment, but the AP claims that it scrubbed its version of the “white people's rights” language and was just 93-words. But they refused to provide City Paper with a copy of their story.
“What possible purpose would there be for me to send you this story when you're trying to cause trouble for how it was written?” said an angry Karen Testa, East Region Editor at the AP. Before hanging up, she added: “That's a good way to build a journalism career.”
As Karoli wrote on Friday, the AP seems to be having some trouble keeping itself non-repugnant. Last night, Rachel Maddow called on the ubiquitous wire service to retract and apologize for an article seeming to blame a Kansas District Attorney for the murder of George Tiller, an abortion doctor who in 2009 was killed at his church by anti-abortion fanatic Scott Roeder.
Turning our attention back to the, er, “White People’s Rights Group,” the EAAC is run by Steve Smith, a convicted felon and longtime racist activist who in May won 4-year term on the Republican Party’s county committee for Luzerne County, Penn.
His election, as I noted over at Hatewatch, was sort of a farce: Smith reportedly won only by writing his name into one of the two seats allotted to his district. To its credit, the Luzerne County GOP issued a press release denouncing his “abhorrent” and “hateful” views, and sought to have him removed from office.
The dispute that led to the articles in question arose over Smith’s plan to use a local park to host the EAAC’s third annual “European American Heritage Celebration.” According to the original article, Smith lied about his address, claiming falsely to be a resident of Moosic, the town whose park he intended to use as a venue for his little hatefest:
Moosic will forbid a white people's rights group from having a celebration at a borough park Saturday because its leader lied when he applied to use the park, council President Joseph Mercatili said Wednesday.
Borough officials found out the group's leader, Steve Smith, lied about where he lives when he asked for permission to use Mercatili-Segilia Park for his European American Action Coalition's third annual European American Heritage Celebration, Mr. Mercatili said. The borough limits reserving use of the park and its pavilion for organized events to its residents, and Mr. Smith gave a Moosic address, even though he lives in Pittston, Mr. Mercatili said.
Supposedly open to all races, the “celebration” was to feature Merlin Miller, who is running for president as the candidate for a white nationalist political party called American Third Position, or A3P.
Miller’s website describes his views on race as follows:
American values, heritage, and even language are under massive assault and we are quickly degenerating from a predominantly White, Christian nation — which led the world by its positive example — to a third world “tower of Babel”.
I’ve written fair amount for Hatewatch about Smith, whose ties to racist groups are broad, deep, and ugly. He’s co-founder of Pennsylvania’s Keystone State Skinheads (now called “Keystone United”), and March 2003, he and two other KSS members were arrested in Scranton for beating a black man with stones and chunks of pavement. Smith pleaded guilty to terrorist threats and ethnic intimidation, and received a 60-day sentence and probation.
He is a former member of the Aryan Nations, which in its heyday was one of the most powerful white supremacist forces in the country (the SPLC has more here); and for a time, belonged to David Duke’s now-defunct National Association for the Advancement of White People. He’s also associated with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group directly descended from the segregationist White Citizens Councils that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour memorably described as a sort of law and order group that, in his youth, kept the Klan out of his hometown, Yazoo City.
The EAAC is a relatively new project, and in keeping with his apparent desire to present himself as a dignified and non-violent racist, Smith appears on its website clad in a dark suit and striped tie.
In a Wednesday interview with reporter Borys Krawczeniuk (who wrote the first article referring to EAAC as a “white people’s rights group”), Smith said, “I don't hate other races. … I advocate on behalf of whites just like the NAACP advocates on behalf of blacks and (others) advocate on behalf of Hispanics.”
Right. Exactly like that, except also with bricks, chunks of pavement, and pure, unadulterated hate.