Publication: Asheville Citizen-Times
Keywords: GUEST COLUMN, KIRK LYONS, THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER, MORRIS DEES, ALLEGATIONS
Caption: PHOTO OF KIRK LYONS
RESPONDING TO ACT's`HATE LINKS TO LYONS CLAIMED' ARTICLE
Byline: By Kirk Lyons
Anyone familiar with me knows that I never
shirk an opportunity to correct distortions of my
career as a civil rights advocate. Although possibly innocently done, your
Monday article (Sept
18. Hate Links to Lyons Claimed) came across as Lyons, Payne and Edgerton
are haters we just
can't prove it. Recently at a Black Mountain community affair I heard
comments like "Why don't
they just leave you people alone?" and "Why does the Citizen-Times continually
dredge up this old
news and ancient allegations." "This is front page news?" "Must've been a real
slow news day."
When we mentioned your paper's interest in telling our side of the story, one person said, "Heres the test--If we see your explanations of Morris Dees assertions in the paper tomorrow, then well know they are telling the truth."
These Southern Poverty Law Center allegations are very old, and your reporting staff knows well our responses to them, they are archival material. Your reporter was told that we would not dignify Morris Dees allegations with a response. The reporter phrased this remark as: "Lyons declined to point out what he felt was inaccurate about the article," suggesting unfairly that I could not properly respond to the allegations.
In the spirit of service to our Black Mountain citizen who asked the question, and at the risk of answering the same old charges for the umpteenth time, here goes:
Contrary to the SPLC allegations in your Sept. 18 story:
I am not a racist, I am not a white supremacist. I am a Christian, unreconstructed Southerner from Texas--that is all I have ever claimed to be. For the record I have never been a member of an Identity church. I was a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church from 1978 until 1995. Since 1995 I have been a member (as is my wife) of Friendship Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Black Mountain. I am proud to be part of the vast right wing conspiracy that Hillary Clinton warned us all about.
I was married at the Church of Jesus Christ, Christian because I fell in love with the daughter of a member of that church. End of story. That your paper encourages this kind of attack on my family through guilt by association is regrettable. Your and Dee's purpose is to cause people to form bad opinions about me based upon my wife and her family. This is a gutter tactic.
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.
I have never had a kristallnacht party for skinheads. That is a vicious lie.
Neill H. Payne is not a lawyer--he is the Executive Director of the Southern Legal Resource Center, Inc.
I did not attend Aryan Nations in 1987.
I defended an innocent man, Jim Wickstrom, in 1988 who was tried for who he was, not what he did. I still believe in his innocence.
I spoke at the Rocky Mountain retreat on behalf of Doug Sheets, a demonstrably innocent man I helped clear of murder charges.
I have never been a member of the National Alliance. As a court certified expert on right wing groups, I received National Alliance publications and had to send money every month to get them. I was a member of the NA, like Dees was and is: to get information.
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 Germany. Anyone who publishes such things is put in prison for a minimum of five years. The quote is badly translated and taken completely out of context. The purpose of the Volkstreue interview was to keep German kids out of the Klan.
Klan Leader William Latham knows absolutely nothing about me.
David Duke has never had a populist party, and Im sorry if the AC-T and Dees dont think Whites are entitled to equal protection under the law. By the way, whats wrong with professionalism?
I have no control over what other people print about me, including this newspaper. CAUSE never ran an ad in Mr. Metzgers publication. If he printed something about CAUSE, he was expressing HIS opinion.
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.
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/Mossad/CIA agent. I attended the event as an observer on behalf of the Cosmopolitan Brotherhood Association, a Black civil rights organization that wants money spent on Holocaust museums to be spent on reparations.
The Southern Legal Resource Center is active in several trendsetting cases of national importance.
Confederate Flag issues will continue to be newsworthy items.
The AC-T would be better served to focus on what we DO, not what Morris Dees says we did in ancient mythology.
(Kirk D. Lyons is chief legal counsel for the Southern Legal Resource Center, Inc. based in Black Mountain.)
Editors note: The Citizen-Times article quoted the Summer 2000 Intelligence Report, a publication of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Morris Dees co-founded the SPLC, where he is chief trial counsel.