While the City of Memphis has approved the KKK’s permit to hold a rally on March 30, the racists and extremists will descend on Montgomery Bell State Park right outside of Nashville a week later. The event is the American Renaissance Conference (be forewarned: that link goes to the conference website). This comes after Stormfront and other white supremacist groups held their international conference in the east part of our state last fall.
Apparently the racists, bigots and hate groups view Tennessee as a friendly, welcoming place for their gatherings. I wonder why that is. People of Tennessee, is this okay with you? Gov. Haslam, is this how you want the world to view our state? Tennessee legislators, do you think affiliating our state with racism and intolerance makes us an attractive place to do business? Yes? No? Because you are making taxpayer-funded state facilities available for this meeting:
That “beautiful, government-owned facility” is Montgomery Bell State Park, according to Not In Our State, a grassroots group planning to meet at the same time and at the same place to “confront racist dialogue and action in the state of Tennessee.” As they write:
American Renaissance is not your average white-supremacist group meeting in the backwoods. The individuals that participate in this organization have political, economic, and academic sway in their communities. Their conference, held April 5-7 at Montgomery Bell State Park in Dixon, Tennessee, is purposely in the public eye, where they believe their hatred and pseudoscience will go unopposed.
Speakers include Roger McGrath, who teaches history at California State University, Northridge and Pepperdine University (which in itself is amazing. This is okay with these institutions? In 2013?), and the infamous John Derbyshire, fired from National Review for fearmongering about scary black people. For American Renaissance, what Derbyshire wrote was actually “sensible”:
It’s amazing to me that our state legislature can hold pointless, grandstanding votes on anti-UN nonsense like Agenda 21, but a bunch of intolerant bigots and extremists hold a gathering at a taxpayer-funded state facility and no one can be bothered to make even the slightest gesture in objection.
This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. The more Tennessee is associated with bigotry and intolerance, the more we are dragged down, economically and socially. It’s obvious that the reason these groups find Tennessee a friendly place for their kind is because of the actions of some prominent legislators — actions like this, where the state House passed a bill banning local communities from renaming Confederate historic sites, but punted on a Democratic amendment that would also ban renaming sites named for Civil Rights leaders. This is a clear message to groups like Stormfront and American Renaissance, but keep in mind, it’s also a clear message to every prospective employer who might have thought Tennessee was a good place to relocate.
Tennessee, when are you going to speak out? When will you say, enough? We are not a haven for hate? Ever? Or is it just, *crickets*?
Memo to Chief Justice John Roberts, who yesterday wondered if the South is more racist than the North. You sure as hell don’t see these conferences in Detroit. Maybe there’s a reason for that, ‘mmm’kay?