Virginia Governor Annuls Decree Racist Group Won

New York Times/May 11, 2001
By B. Drummond Ayres, Jr.

Whereas the office of the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia issues scores of proclamations every year that commemorate everything from Smithfield hams to the Blue Ridge Mountains, it seemed entirely natural, as aides to Gov. James S. Gilmore III tell it, to honor a request from the National Organization for European-American Rights.

The request, in a letter from the organization's Virginia chairman, Ronald Doggett, called on the governor to proclaim May to be European- American Heritage and History Month. After all, Mr. Doggett pointed out, Europeans established the 1607 settlement at Jamestown, Va., that "led to the eventual birth of the United States."

The proclamation went out on Wednesday, declaring it "fitting to recognize Americans and Virginians of European descent for the significant contributions they have made to our nation and to the world." Then, yesterday morning, the The Associated Press called to ask: Was the governor aware that the National Organization for European-American Rights was a white supremacy group headed by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader?

No, said Mr. Gilmore, who as the Republican national chairman, has urged his party to reach out more to members of minorities, especially blacks. He withdrew the proclamation, declaring that there was "nothing wrong with celebrating the accomplishments of thousands of European Americans," but not in concert with Mr. Duke and his group.

"A simple mistake was made," he said. "I will take steps to see that we are more careful." Aides to the governor said the mistake occurred because the dozens of proclamation requests that come in every month are typically processed by relatively inexperienced staff members, none of whom recognized the name of the Duke group.

"As you can imagine," said Reed Boatwright, Mr. Gilmore's press secretary, "the governor never sees many of the requests."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.