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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Jenny Wiley State Park Is Hosting A Hate Group

Today, I was appalled to read Internet news from WKYT-TV27 in Lexington, KY, and learn that Jenny Wiley State Park in Prestonsburg, KY, will be hosting a meeting of the Traditionalist Workers Party, a hate group as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, AL.  I also confirmed the accuracy of the story by watching the evening news on WKYT-TV27  and by calling the park office to protest the fact that a state park would be hosting a meeting of a hate group.  When I contacted the park office in Prestonsburg, I was told that staff there could not comment on the issue and was given the name and telephone number of Gil Lawson, the information officer and official spokesperson for the KY State Parks in Frankfort, KY.  When I called Mr. Lawson, he would only read the official statement which the parks department had prepared and which is included in the Internet news story from WKYT-TV27.  Here are the contents of that statement: 
""The executed contract for this event was for a family reunion, and the parks department was not notified of the intent of this meeting until late last evening. As a public event, a different contract will be required. The new contract will include safety and other provisions, and the group will have to reapply under the correct process. As a public agency, the Kentucky State Parks cannot discriminate against individuals or groups under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, we will continue to monitor the situation and any threats to our guests, and we will take appropriate actions as necessary." Official Statement From The KY State Parks System Downloaded on February 8, 2017, at 8:40pm.
Upon hearing the statement on the telephone, my response to Mr. Lawson was that he was "talking out of both sides of his mouth".  We both graciously allowed the conversation to end on that note.  My logic for that assessment is based on these facts as stated in the statement.  The parks system is attempting to imply, but not clearly state, that they were mislead when negotiating the contract and they may well have been mislead.  At the same time, the parks system is stating they have no intentions to attempt to do the right thing by voiding the contract and refusing to host the event.  The parks system is also attempting to claim they have no legal means by which to refuse to host such a group.  The portion of the statement which says "we will continue to monitor the situation and any threats to our guests, and we will take appropriate actions as necessary".  By virtue of that sentence, they are admitting that possible threats to their guests do exist.  

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Traditionalist Workers Party as:
"...a white nationalist group that advocates for racially pure nations and communities and blames Jews for many of the world’s problems. Even as it claims to oppose racism, saying every race deserves its own lands and culture, the group is intimately allied with neo-Nazi and other hardline racist organizations that espouse unvarnished white supremacist views." Southern Poverty Law Center Downloaded on February 8, 2017, at 8:51pm.
For those of you who do not know the Southern Poverty Law Center, they were founded by Morris Dees, one of the most successful civil rights attorneys in the history of the country, and are located in Montgomery, AL.  They track, confront, and litigate against hate groups all over the country and do a phenomenal job of gaining, protecting, and preserving human rights all over America.  The bottom line is that if the SPLC tells you a group is a hate group you can bet your boots on their assessment.  The Traditionalist Workers Party is described in their own literature as being strongly anti-Semitic and homophobic although they attempt to couch those beliefs in language which can avoid the possibility of constituting hate crimes on its face.  At the same time, they attempt to disguise their supremacist views behind stated intentions of "fighting for faith, family, and folk".  However, it is interesting that on their official website they list their philosophical literature on a web page they have named "Propaganda".  According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary Eleventh Edition, the definition of "Propaganda" is: "information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a cause or political view".  It is fascinating that such a group would use a word to describe their teaching which means "...biased or misleading...". 

In their statement about the goals of the event which is linked from the WKYT-TV27 web site, the Traditionalist Workers Party makes several statements that cause concern.  They state that: " Pike County is 98.35% European and went over 80% for Trump in the recent elections."  It is fascinating that an organization that SPLC has identified as a hate group is choosing to visit and hold a meeting in an area which supported Donald Trump who has always denied his support from and possible connections to such white supremacist hate groups.  They go on to say that Pike County is an area that is "in need of advocacy and organization".  They also gloat that " Given that the venue is a State Park, they cannot shut down the event".  That statement, and the likely fear of state park officials, is probably why the official statement from the KY State Parks is so unwilling to confront the fact that they have agreed to host an event from a hate group.  The TWP go further near the end of their statement by discussing possible "...possible Leftist attacks, we will not be driven from the streets, under any circumstances" which appears to state that they are prepared for violence during their street demonstration in Pikeville on April 29th, 2017.  

Every citizen, every elected official, every church, every legitimate social organization in the Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia area should immediately and unequivocally denounce this group, their proposed event, and their potentially violent agenda.  Every member of such churches, groups, and organizations should immediately contact Gil Lawson and the Kentucky State Parks to protest this event and to demand that it be cancelled.  Potential violence, which is openly discussed in that statement and that is alarming and potentially very dangerous.  Such plans, such groups, and such threats of violence must be confronted and must be stopped. 


kaye Willis said...

I will be making a call tomorrow. Thanks!

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Unfortunately, Roger, the First Amendment does protect such hate groups' freedom of speech. I'm afraid it's open season for such groups since Trump's election. The country is starting to look more like Germany in 1933. I sincerely hope that the voices of reason and sanity can prevent the U.S. from following the same course.

Roger D. Hicks said...

Thank You, Kaye Willis! Wayfarin' Stranger, I had wondered if you had dropped off the face of the earth or just became disillusioned with my more political aspect these days. For more than a year, I have been reminding my readers and friends of the changes which took place in Germany from 1929 to 1945. I have to say I saw it coming. But we can stand up to it. I am reading about the Polish Resistance right now and will write some about it later. It is also a great time to study the work of Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954. I will be addressing that also in the near future. I have known several of the senator's victims in my life. I miss your blog work, Jim!