There isn’t much new to say about the controversy surrounding Sen. Lydia Chassaniol (R-Winona)’s connections to a white separatist group, but I’ve received enough emails on the matter to warrant an update.
Here’s what has happened over the past several weeks:
- On the morning of July 17th, I appeared on the Paul Gallo Show on SuperTalk Mississippi to discuss the controversy. Gallo indicated that he had asked Sen. Chassaniol to appear on the program, but that she had decided not to do so. He also admitted that the CCC was a racist group, and that her decision to speak before it was “stupid.” Although my appearance lasted 50 minutes, only the first 15 (in which Gallo had not yet condemned the CCC) were made available as a podcast. This may indicate that he received some backlash from Republican officials over his remarks; I have been unable to obtain a full copy of the recording from Gallo’s producer.
- Brad White has been given several opportunities to read my open letter (I sent it to him on Facebook, it was published in the Jackson Free Press, et. al.), but he has been unwilling to speak negatively about the group. A source within the Mississippi Republican Party, who had spoken to White about the matter, told me that White has so far chosen to remain silent on the CCC in an effort to protect Sen. Chassaniol from political fallout.
- Local activist Beth Kander delivered a handwritten letter and flowers to Sen. Chassaniol’s office protesting the senator’s association with the CCC. I’m very proud of Beth’s creative activism here, and proud to have been one of the many signatories of her letter.
- I offered to write about the Chassaniol controversy for the Clarion-Ledger, but Perspectives editor Sid Salter, who has always been friendly towards me in the past, has ostensibly ignored my emails about the matter. This may have something to do with the fact that Sen. Chassaniol blogs for the Clarion-Ledger herself.
- The Greenwood Commonwealth remains the only traditional newspaper to report on the story.
So: What next? Well, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I’m not going to drop this, but my expectation was that as soon as the story went public, Brad White would condemn the CCC and my involvement in this matter would largely end. (Sen. Chassaniol apparently has no intention of distancing herself from the group, but this is an issue that her constituents can address in the 2011 election.) That didn’t happen, so my hope was that if I publicized the matter further, there would at least be figures within the Mississippi Republican Party who would do the remaining work of pressuring party leaders to distance themselves from the white separatist movement. Or, at the very very least, that local media would catch on and take over this issue.
None of this has really happened. The Gallo Show is statewide, part of any politically engaged Republican’s breakfast routine, so the complete silence on the part of party leaders can’t really be attributed to the possibility that they haven’t heard about this issue. We have to assume that, for some reason, the party leadership does not want to go on the record against white separatist groups right now.
I’ve been talking to members of both parties about ways to draw more visibility to this matter. If you have any ideas, please post them in the comments field below.
Thank you for all that you’ve done. We will marginalize the white separatist movement in Mississippi, and we will do it soon. Of this I have no doubt.