Western North Carolina Citizens For An End To Institutional
PO Box 18640
Asheville, North Carolina
Background: On September 18, 2000 the Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times had a front page story headlined "Hate Links to Lyons claimed." The article reported on the Southern Poverty Law Center's Summer 2000/Issue 99 Intelligence Report which examined "Rebels with a Cause," the neo-Confederate movement and the increasing number of long-term white supremacists taking leadership roles. The report included several pictures of Kirk Lyons and a six page article entitled, "In the Lyons Den."
On October 17, 2000 Kirk Lyons' rebuttal guest column appeared in the Asheville-Citizen Times under the heading, "Responding to AC-T's 'Hate links to Lyons claimed' article."
In his rebuttal, Lyons claims that specific statements in the Southern Poverty Law Center report are inaccurate. An examination of his rebuttal reveals that Lyons is apparently trying to blur the truth and to avoid actually renouncing those same past associations and statements. Below are a few examples of Lyons' statements and our assessment based on the past documentation:
Item No. 1
Lyons: "I have Klan associations the same way criminal defense attorneys have rapist and murderer associations - I have represented them as is the hallmark of our Bill of Rights."
Rest of the story: We know of no criminal defense attorneys who have pleaded to be seen as part of the Klan's "movement" as Lyons did in an interview in the KKK publication The Klansman in 1990. Lyons says in that interview: "Our business is to go on the offensive , defend people who are on trial and file lawsuits on behalf of people in our movement so that we can start taking the war into the enemies(sic) court." (WNCCEIB's underlining)
Lyons also says in the KKK interview: "We've got to fight on the same level as our enemies, and that means slick lawyers, slick publications, it's got to look professional in every way. People out there can't figure that out. Unfortunately, I'm finding out that a lot of people in our movement haven't got two nickels worth of cents." (WNCCEIB's underlining)
He goes on to say, "What more can I do to show that I'm not a tool of ZOG or a bought and paid for mason, or that I'm honest and sincere." (Note: ZOG is white supremacist term for the Federal government, it means "Zionist Occupational Government.")
In another Klan publication, "Jew Watch" in 1992, Lyons is pictured and described as a "Christian Patriot" while standing before a burning cross and next to the KKK's main 'theologian.'
A February 18, 1990 Dallas Morning News article entitled "Lawyer finds clientele on right-wing political fringe" describes Lyons as describing himself as "'an active sympathizer' of the racists, tax protesters, and white separatist 'Kingdom Identity' religious groups that make up the country's small but vocal radical right."
Item No. 2
Lyons: "I have never had a 'kristallnacht' party for skinheads. That's a vicious lie."
Rest of the Story: The Black Mountain News reported in its March 12, 1992 edition that "...Lyons had skinhead contacts in Texas, including inviting them to his home to celebrate Kristallnaucht." The Black Mountain News had learned of that party at Lyons home from the Southern Poverty Law Center in more detail than it printed. Lyons' threatened to sue over the comment but backed off after the Black Mountain News gave additional information and indicated to Lyons that it appeared he was trying to intimidate them.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reported in its Klanwatch Intelligence Report #43/April 1989 that "Whitehead (a Houston skinhead) is heavily influenced by Kirk Lyons and attended a party November 9, 1988 at Lyons' apartment to 'celebrate' Kristallnaucht. Whitehead says he believes there was no Holocaust." To WNCCEIB's knowledge, Lyons has never addressed his complaint to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Lyons has himself spoken at Holocaust-didn't-happen type conferences in this country, England, and Germany. In a feature on Lyons, the April 19, 1992 Raleigh News & Observer wrote: "He (Lyons) denies that the Nazis ever devised a systematic plan to kill the Jews in gas chambers and argues that Hitler, who he says has some admirable qualities, was 'probably the most misunderstood person in German history.'"
Item No. 3
Lyons:' "Klan leader" William Latham knows absolutely nothing about me.'
Rest of the Story: In a February 18, 1990 Dallas Morning News article entitled "Lawyer finds clientele on the right-wing political fringe", the following is written:
"Tarrant County Klan leader William Latham said Mr. Lyons was the first person he called earlier this month when he learned that Sgt. Hall, who worked as a volunteer Tarrant County deputy was being investigated..."
"'He's like a Klan lawyer. He understands our beliefs. He shares them,' said Mr. Lathem, who uses the pseudonym Bill Walton."
"'We've been donating to his foundation for a while, so we knew he was the one to call,' Mr. Latham said. 'Everybody in the Klan and groups like the Klan know him because he was Louis Beam's lawyer in Fort Smith.'"
Item No. 4:
Lyons: I did not attend Aryan Nations in 1987."
Rest of the Story: WNCCEIB cannot speak to 1987 but Lyons was there in 1988 according to the Anti-Defamation League's Civil Rights Division. In its June 1991 "Special Edition" update report on Kirk Lyons, the ADL reported that: "At the 1988 Aryan Nations World Congress, he (Lyons) suggested organizing such a foundation. Lyons said that he attended the annual event at the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho as Louis Beam's representative."The Southern Poverty Law Center's August 1988/#39 Klanwatch Intelligence Report lead article is headlined, "Aryan Meeting Signals Rise In Militancy." On the front page, pictured & captioned along with KKK, Chritian Identity, and other white supremacists at the July 15-17 "Aryan Nations World Congress" at the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, ID is Kirk Lyons. Klanwatch describes Lyons as a "white supremacist" and as the lawyer for Louis Beam (former Grand Dragon of the Texas KKK).
Lyons' denying he attended the 1987 Aryan Nations World Congress leaves the possible impression in the reader that he was never there and perhaps doesn't even approve of their activities. The opposite is closer to the truth. By trying to leave that impression in the public's mind when the record shows he was there in 1988, Lyons appears to continue his effort to mislead or confuse readers about his overall activities. What year he was there is not as important as the fact that he was there and why he was there.
Item No. 5:
Lyons: "The 1992 interview was not in a neo-nazi publication. It was in "Volkstreue" a nationalist publication. Neo-Nazi publications are against the law in free and Democratic German. Anyone who publishes such things is put in prison for a minimum of five years. The quote is badly translated and completely out of context. The purpose of Volkstreue interview was to keep German kids out of the Klan."
Rest of the Story: The quote and the interview in its full context may be read at our web site at <www.main.nc.us/wncceib/lynaziinterview.html>. For our own assurance, WNCCEIB had the translation checked for accuracy by a university German professor who found the translation to be accurate. Reading the quotes in context makes the SPLC observations about Lyons even stronger.
Lyons is playing word games. While the actual "neo-nazi" name may be illegal in Germany, "Nationalist" in today's jargon in German is synonymous with the neo-nazi skinhead movement in Germany. In the "Volkstreue" interview, Lyons praises the work of the 'nationalist' youth and points to the Klan as ineffective today because it is infiltrated and "its best leaders have left the Klan to do more effective work within the movement." As the AC-T & the SPLC quoted Lyons from that interview, his advice for the KKK is to "put the robes and hoods in the cupboard and become an underground organization. This would make the Klan stronger than ever before." Thus, if Lyons' intent was to discourage German nationalist youth from joining the KKK, it was only because Lyons had come to see the KKK as ineffective in its work.
In another part of the interview with "Volkstreue," Lyons is asked what he thinks of democracy. He replies: "Democracy is a farce and a failure. I don't believe in democracy."
In a May 1996 German TV program "Spiegel TV" a clip of Lyons is used in which he made a speech in German to a group of German "nationalists" in 1992. Lyons is shown beginning the speech with the following words: "I feel honored to be in the country that has produced the world's most famous composers, artists, and architects (builders) as well as the greatest political leader ("Fuehrer") of the 20th century." (Translation provided by SpiegalTV)
Item No. 6
Lyons: "CAUSE never ran an ad in Metzger's publication.
If he printed something about
CAUSE, he was expressing HIS opinion."
Rest of the story:
Rest of the story:The ad which appeared in the White Aryan Resistance said: "CAUSE PO Box 1235 Black Mountain, NC 28711 Send a donation to Kirk Lyons and his pro-White law firm "
Whether Metzger put the ad in himself or in response to Lyons's request, WNCCEIB cannot confirm, but WNCCEIB can confirm that Kirk Lyons and CAUSE helped raised funds for Metzger's appeal in a civil trial in a wrongful death case. The Southern Poverty Law Center successfully sued on behalf of an Ethiopian immigrant who was bludgeoned to death by skinheads in Portland, OR. The court found Metzger liable for inciting the skinheads to that action and a $12.5 million dollar judgement was levied. Lyons wrote a letter on the CAUSE letterhead to supporters urging them to send him funds for the appeal: "Won't you help us get back some of the losses inflicted upon the Metzgers' and the First Amendment? Please send your contributions payable to CAUSE Foundation and marked "Metzger Appeal" today. We're within sight of victory, all we need is more financial push!"
While Lyons' comment in the AC-T rebuttal is apparently intended to disassociate himself from Metzger and the White Aryan Resistance, the record demonstrates a passionate support for Metzger that goes beyond what a detached civil rights lawyer might say and do.
Item No. 7
Lyons: "CAUSE represented ten times as many Black clients as White clients. CAUSE was interested in constitutional rights not color rights. Nor "conservative" rights" or "liberal" rights-just rights."
Rest of the Story: In the January 8, 1994 Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA) article headlined "More Aryan leaders leave aging founder," Betty Tate, Lyons' mother-in-law and paid clerical assistant at the time said that CAUSE "provides legal assistance to 'white racialists' in the United States and abroad."
In a December 4, 1989 National Law Journal article on Lyons entitled, "He's Seeking Seed Money To Defend Some 'Patriots'", the following is written: "Mr. Lyons freely admits that his sympathies lie with those he wants to represent. He offers this as an explanation, 'Ten percent of the people in the United States are racists, and the other 90 percent are hypocrites."
At the February 8, 1992 Populist Party's "National Meeting of Patriots For Unity Conference" in Clemmons, NC, Kirk Lyons was a there as a speaker to talk about CAUSE.. He said, "If we are going to succeed in a worldwide movement, for that of white rights, and for whites future, having a future at all, then we must encourage professionalism..." He also said, "This is a global struggle that European people will not perish from the face of the earth. We cannot ignore that, we must address it, we must work with them." In describing CAUSE, Lyons said, "We will be a clearinghouse for civil rights concerns for European derived people." (Note that CAUSE stands for Canada/Australia/United States/South Africa/Europe, places where Lyons said Western civilization is under threat.)
The May 1992 edition of the Green Line noted: "Lyons believes that racial stereotypes are real and should be discussed honestly. "Racial humor (provides) some of the funniest jokes you every heard, " he said. "A man shouldn't go to jail for telling a nigger joke, but our childlike society can't see that."
Lyons has never revealed actual client numbers or names by race or by case. There were Black clients in his Waco civil case (recently thrown out by the Supreme Court) but in that case, Lyons' anti-government passion apparently played a far greater role in his motivation than any desire to defend Black survivors or victims' families. In a fund-raising ad for his CAUSE organization, Lyons wrote in the July 1995 edition of Soldier of Fortune magazine, the headline "Stop Reno and her Gun Grabbing Goons."
Item No. 8
Lyons: "Regarding the ENOUGH allegation: I was offered a retainer to organize a demonstration at the opening of the Holocaust Museum. I turned it down and returned the money. The event was organized and run by John Nugent. Willis Carto wrote the quote which you cited. He has since labeled me an FBI/Mossasd/CIA agent. I attended the event as an observer on behalf of the Comopolitan Brotherhood Association, a Black civil rights organization that wants money spent on Holocaust Museums to be spent on reparations."
Rest of the Story: The March 15, 1993 edition of the right-wing "Spotlight" publication had a large picture of Kirk Lyons in its "Spotlight on People" section. Lyons is described in the accompanying article as the "organizer" of the demonstration to be held the following month in April 1993 at the dedication of the Holocaust Museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C.. Lyons is quoted saying, "On April 22 Americans can show their concern over the squandering of $150 million of taxpayer money.....Revisionists cast doubt as to whether the museum is built upon an enormous falsehood. Clearly there is a question as to the propriety of catering to the whims of a powerful special interest group that wants a monopoly on its own sufferings."
WNCCEIB is unaware of Lyons publicly disowning his role in that demonstration or the quotation attributed to him in the "Spotlight" article until this rebuttal commentary in the Asheville Citizen-Times. Moreover, Lyons' quote is itself inaccurate in that the Holocaust Museum cost was $168 million dollars, not $150 million AND, most importantly, it was built with privately raised money, not tax money. Congress did provide the land and site on the Mall but not the funds for construction.
If Lyons wants to establish the accuracy of his statement, he should provide the Asheville Citizen-Times with documentation which establishes that he turned down the retainer, had no role in the demonstration, and protested the quotation that was attributed to him. The onus of proof is on Lyons as the quote and his role in the demonstration are not inconsistent with his own long track record in holocaust-didn't-happen circles. What makes Lyons' version less believable is the fact that Lyons acknowledges being present at the demonstration, though once again, he conveniently claims to have been representing someone else. While Lyons' presence at and role in the Holocaust Museum demonstration has been reported numerous times before, this is the first time WNCCEIB has seen Lyons mention the "Cosmopolitan Brotherhood Association" he claims to have been representing.
Item No. 9
Lyons': "I have never been a member of the National Alliance. As a court-certified expert on right wing groups, I received National Alliance publicatiions and had to send money every month to get them. I was a member, like (SPLC's Morris)Dees was and is: to get information."
Rest of the story:
William Pierce who heads up
that leading national neo-Nazi organization didn't see it that way. In his
"National Alliance Bulletin," Pierce included a glowing piece entitled,
"Member Forms Legal
Foundation" about Lyons creating the Patriots Defense Foundation "to do for
our people what
the Jews have done for our enemies with the National Lawyers Guild, the
NAACP Legal Defense
Fund, and the Southern Poverty Law Center and a dozen other anti-White legal
attack groups." Pierce urged other members to send Lyons contributions.
If Pierce thought Lyons and Dees were members for the same reason, why did he not also praise Dees and urge members to send him money? Lyons, to our knowledge, has never publicly protested this endorsement in the National Alliance Bulletin or renounced Pierce's neo-Nazi philosophy. If he does so, statements like this one he made in his commentary might be more believable.
Item No. 10
Lyons' concluding sentence: "The AC-T would be better served to focus on what we DO, not what Morris Dees says we did in ancient mythology."
Rest of the story: From the documentation presented above, what Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center report about Kirk Lyons is not "mythology" but documented fact. The importance of this "ancient," ten to thirteen year old history is that Lyons has not publicly renounced his past statements or denounced his past associations while at the same time taking on an increasingly influential role in the neo-Confederate movement. Yes, he has tried to distance himself from people, events, and statements without actually renouncing their views, beliefs, or actions. (E.g. He was married by Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler but never has taken the opportunity to repudiate Butler's Christian Identity religion with its belief that people who are not White are "sub-human, Mud People.")
The Southern Poverty Law Center's report on the neo-Confederate movement is important because it cuts through the veil of the "heritage not hate" language to demonstrate that long time, hard-core white supremacists are taking on leadership roles in the movement and moving moderate groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans toward more radical right views.
Lyons does not like the attention to his past because that "ancient" history discredits him among such Confederate heritage organizations that want to persuade the public that their interest is, in fact, "heritage not hate." While Lyons says it is "old news," he has done nothing to indicate that the views he expressed in the past have changed. Thus, the reader is left to wonder if Lyons' current activities are simply a re-packaged version of his past?
Lyons refers to himself in his rebuttal as a "Christian, unreconstructed Southerner from Texas." "Unreconstructed Southerner" means different things to different people. When many people hear that term they think that the individual would like to go back to an unreconstructed South with segregation or worse. Lyons told the Raleigh News & Observer April 19, 1992 that he wanted to be the President of the Republic of Texas. The article states: "It would be a predominantly white state with European institutions, he (Lyons) says, but he might permit a small minority population to live within its borders. "I like other cultures, he explains, 'I don't want to have to go to China to eat Chinese food.'"
Even if he is trying to be humorous, Lyons implies that people who are not White would be required to leave the state. How does a self-described "civil rights lawyer" explain that implication? Is that what "unreconstructed Southerner" means?
Moreover, if Lyons indeed thinks it is better for the KKK to "work underground" to be more effective as he told the German nationalists/neo-nazi publication, is it not logical to conclude that Lyons may be following his own advice in his work on Confederate heritage issues?
One inconsequential point that Lyons had right in his rebuttal is that brother-in-law Neill Payne is not a lawyer. Left unsaid is the fact that Payne is a chiropractor practicing in Black Mountain and a past director of Lyons' Patriots Defense Foundation and of his CAUSE Foundation. Lyons did note Payne's current title within the Southern Legal Resource Center, Lyons' "civil rights organization for the Confederate flag."
Postscript: Hints for reading Lyons' statements
Kirk Lyons walks a tightrope. He tries to show the right wing he is with them while appearing a moderate to the mainstream. Below are some of the patterns evident in this effort:
1. Say one thing to right wing publications and another to mainstream publications. (E.g. Claim to have no Klan associations that a lawyer wouldn't have to the AC-T while having a history of trying to get the Klan to see himself as part of their "movement" as he did in The Klansman interview.)
2. Pick out a nuance and focus on that nuance rather than the substance of the issue. (E.g. Claiming he was not at Aryan Nations in 1987 but not revealing he WAS there in 1988.)
3. When presence is documented, be at a meeting or event on someone else's behalf (as if you are there in a detached, not necessarily sympathetic mode). E.g. At a Klan march as an observer, at a national meeting of militia leaders on behalf of a past client; at the demonstration against the Holocaust Museum as a rep. of --and this was a new one we'd not heard before-- a Black organization; etc.)
4. Take on role of victim of "old allegations" or of an attack on his family connections (as if the allegations lose their merit being old or the fact that his family's close ties with Aryan Nations isn't relevant to his own view of the world, especially given all the other complementary statements he's made.) END OF MEMO