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No, Really, Rep. Chassaniol: You’re a Racist

How do we know this? Well, there’s the small matter of belonging to a racist organization:

This past weekend, the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) held its annual conference at the Cabot Lodge on the campus of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. The “surprise guest,” Mississippi State Sen. Lydia Chassaniol (R-14th District), was introduced by emcee Bill Lord — the CCC’s field director who is known for his racist “Martin Luther Coon” jokes — as “the right hand to the Governor [Haley Barbour].” Lord also identified Chassaniol as a “member” of the CCC chapter in Carroll County, one of a handful of Central Mississippi counties she represents.

In an E-mail, Chassaniol confirmed to Hatewatch that she is a member of the CCC, which she described as a “conservative organization.” She also wrote, “I do not consider myself racist,” adding that she believes “a person’s membership in any organization is a private matter.”

Um, no. When you’re a private citizen, that excuse may fly (unless, of course, you work for a corporation, or belong to another organization that’s diametrically opposed to having members who belong to racist organizations, or etc.). When you’re an elected official, the organizations you belong to become a matter of public interest. Your constituents and the people who vote for you deserve to know if you belong to an organization that says shit like this:

The CCC’s columnists have written that non-white immigration is turning the U.S. population into a “slimy brown mass of glop.” Its website has run photographic comparisons of pop singer Michael Jackson and a chimpanzee. It opposes “forced integration” and decries racial intermarriage for any reason. The CCC has lambasted black people as “genetically inferior,” complained about “Jewish power brokers,” called gay people “perverted sodomites,” and even named the late Lester Maddox, the baseball bat-wielding, arch-segregationist former governor of Georgia, “Patriot of the Century.”

They also deserve to know what sort of talk you gave at the CCC’s get-together:

Chassaniol ended her talk by encouraging her listeners to embrace their southern heritage. Describing the CCC as “lone voices crying in the wilderness,” Chassaniol ended on a positive note, “Seeing all of you here today gives me hope.”

Because, you know, in the context of who you were speaking to, that raises some disturbing questions about your fitness to represent a diverse district.

You may not consider yourself a racist, but let me clue you in on something: people who aren’t racists don’t praise white supremacist groups. They sure as shit don’t get hope from seeing them all gathered together.