Kirk Lyons and controversy in Sons of Confederate Veterans organization
WNCCEIB'S Letter to the Editor, Reprinted from MT XPRESS (Asheville, NC) February 19--25, 2003 edition
In the well-written [Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)] Feb. 5 cover story "Rebel Yell: Heritage Fight Heats Up," by Tracy Rose, Kirk Lyons makes statements that are apparently inaccurate [or] incomplete, or [that] serve to muddy the waters just enough to confuse a reader unfamiliar with his background.
Inaccurate: Mr. Lyons states [in the Xpress article], "I have never claimed that I am a white separatist." He apparently was more open when he spoke with the Raleigh News & Observer in 1992. In its April 19 edition, the reporter writes: "[Lyons] says he's not a white supremacist just a white separatist." During the March 18, 1993, Sally Jessy Raphael TV show entitled "White-Collar Racists," Lyons [bristled] at his depiction as a white supremacist and had the following exchange with Ms. Raphael:
Lyons: "We're not talking about supremacy, we're talking about separatism, so don't mischaracterize what we say."
Raphael: "Sorry. White separatists."
Lyons: "Separatism. That's the word."
Incomplete: Lyons tries to put some professional distance between himself and former Texas KKK Grand Dragon Louis Beam by saying his relationship and defense of Beam was part of giving Beam a "forum to present what happened to him." What is left unsaid is that Lyons went on to ask Beam to be best man at Lyons' Aryan Nations church wedding described in the [Xpress] article. That sounds like a much closer personal relationship than a lawyer simply giving an individual his day in court. Many lawyers defend people with whom they may not agree, but how many then turn around and ask one of them to be "best man" at their wedding?
Muddying the waters: Lyons tries to distance himself from the many white-supremacist events and activities he attended by describing them as "educational experiences for me." Sure. Was his organizing a protest demonstration at the 1993 dedication of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., another "educational experience?" Moreover, at the April 22, 2000, Arlington, Va., meeting of the American Friends of the British National Party, Lyons was on the podium with and was praised by David Duke as a "white knight." Was that another "learning experience?"
Lyons calls himself an "unreconstructed Southerner." I am not sure what he thinks that means, but to me and, no doubt, [to] many other readers, that means someone who believes in slavery, at worst, and segregation, at best. What else could an "unreconstructed Southerner" mean in the context of our region's past, when the period after the Civil War is called the Reconstruction Period? The term "unreconstructed Southerner" appears to me to be the current code word to fellow racists of a white-supremacist or separatist attitude.
Our organization (Western North Carolina Citizens for an End to Institutional Bigotry) has been monitoring and documenting Kirk Lyons' actions and statements since he moved here in 1992. Our Web site (www.main.nc.us/wncceib/) has ample documentation to persuade even the most skeptical reader of Lyons' race-based and anti-Semitic background and actions. Ironically, many in the [Sons of Confederate Veterans organization], even when presented with the facts, continue to back Lyons. Knowingly or not, they also give support to Lyons' self-proclaimed "civil rights movement" to return the South to what he described in [his] speech to the British National Party gathering as "a godly, stable, tradition-based society with no 'Northernisms' attached, a hierarchical society, a majority-European-derived country."
Coordinator, WNC Citizens for an End to Institutional Bigotry