The massacre of nine churchgoers in Charleston by white supremacist terrorist Dylann Roof has the media digging into politicians’ past associations with the people and groups that inspired him. 

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BuzzFeed notes that Mike Huckabee, while serving as Arkansas lieutenant governor, sent an “extremely well received” video message to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens in 1993, though Huckabee cancelled an in-person appearance when he learned that another speaker made anti-Semitic comments. “I will not share the stage or platform with someone who thinks the Holocaust didn’t happen,” Huckabee explained to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette at the time.

The Council of Conservative Citizens grew out of the old White Citizens Councils. In their own words, they “oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called ‘affirmative action’ and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.” Basically, the group amounts to mildly sanitized white supremacists, trying to hide their 1957-style racism under the cloak of “conservative” principles. Roof cited them as an inspiration in his manifesto. 

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Now this business with Huckabee happened twenty years ago. For years, a nauseating number of Southern politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, were all too willing to turn a blind eye to the vile impulses of a certain voting bloc. Hopefully, someone like Huck wouldn’t even consider so much as a greeting card to a group like the Council of Conservative Citizens today. Cancelling his speech in 1993 was the right thing to do, but the problem goes a little deeper than an anti-Semitic speaker, which I wish he would have had the guts to acknowledge way back then (a number of prominent Republican politicians and pundits at the time, most famously former GOP Majority Leader Trent Lott, received criticism for associations with the group). This was an organization centered around white supremacy and racism — a link to the South’s history of terrorism against black citizens.  

From Buzzfeed’s account: 

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Instead, Huckabee sent a videotaped message. The Citizen Informer, the official publication of the Council of Conservative Citizens appears to have incorrectly described why Huckabee was absent, but according to the newsletter, Huckabee’s speech was “terrific” and was “extremely well received by the audience.”

“Ark. Lt. Governor Mike Huckabee, unable to leave Arkansas by law because the Governor was absent from the state, sent a terrific videotape speech, which was viewed and extremely well received by the audience,” the newsletter read.