Alabama Editor Calls for Ku Klux Klan to Clean out DC
The end of racism may have been prematurely declared.
A bizarre story in the Montgomery Advertiser (“Alabama newspaper editor calls for Klan return to ‘clean out D.C.’“):
Goodloe Sutton — who is the publisher of the Democrat-Reporter newspaper in Linden, Alabama — confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser on Monday that he authored the Feb. 14 editorial calling for the return of a white supremacist hate group.
“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we’d all been better off,” Sutton said.
Asked to elaborate what he meant by “cleaning up D.C.,” Sutton suggested lynching.
“We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them,” Sutton said.
When asked if he felt it was appropriate for the publisher of a newspaper to call for the lynching of Americans, Sutton doubled down on his position.
“… It’s not calling for the lynchings of Americans. These are socialist-communists we’re talking about. Do you know what socialism and communism is?” Sutton said.
In the newspaper editorial, Sutton wrote:
Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama. They do not understand how to eliminate expenses when money is needed in other areas. This socialist-communist ideology sounds good to the ignorant, the uneducated, and the simple-minded people.
When asked if he recognized the KKK as a racist and violent organization, Sutton disagreed, comparing the Klan to the NAACP.
“A violent organization? Well, they didn’t kill but a few people,” Sutton said. “The Klan wasn’t violent until they needed to be.”
Sutton said he didn’t know any Klan remaining in the area, stating most died out after the 1960s.
The editor said he welcomed people to call him, write him a letter or boycott him.
My first instinct was to question whether Sutton was a grade-A moron or a grade-F satirist. Even aside from the bizarre take on the Klan and the merits of violence, the thinking expressed in the editorial was self-refuting. It simply makes no sense to rail against “Democrat wars” and then in the next breath complain about the end of the draft. So, it struck me that this was just a bad attempt to make fun of far-right views.
Alas, not so much.
Sutton, who has worked at the paper since 1964, inherited the publication from his father. Sutton and the newspaper received national acclaim in the 1990s for their reporting on a corrupt local sheriff.
In 2015, he ran a headline titled: “Selma black thugs murder Demopolite Saturday night.” At that time, the paper had about 3,000 subscribers.
Linden is located about 100 miles due west of Montgomery near the Mississippi border.
So, no, Sutton isn’t a failed humorist but a successful racist. His fellow Alabama journalists seem to agree with my assessment:
Chip Brownlee and Mikayla Burns — editor-in-chief and managing editor, respectively, at The Auburn Plainsman — first spotted Sutton’s editorial and shared it online Monday.
“As a newspaper editor myself it’s disturbing to see this type of editorial printed,” Brownlee said via email. “Granted, I’m the editor of a student newspaper, but all newspapers should be held to the highest ethical and moral standards. Editorials should be about new ideas, constructive criticism and opinion backed up by facts. To call for the return of domestic terrorism — no matter its form — is counterproductive and wrong. It’s important to welcome and encourage differing opinions, but violence is never right.”
As to this . . .
The Advertiser contacted the Alabama Press Association, the state trade association for newspapers in the state, to inquire whether or not Sutton and the Democrat-Reporter were members.
“We do not agree with the opinion,” said Felicia Mason, APA executive director. “However, APA is not a policing agency. We simply have no authority over what our member newspapers publish.”
I have no objection to Sutton being allowed to publish his racist nonsense and don’t think it’s the job of press associations to cast out those who publish such things. But I sincerely hope there’s a rival newspaper offering local residents the ability to follow local news without Sutton’s editorial sensibilities.
UPDATE: As I was putting the finishing touches on the post, I see that Sutton is already facing consequences from the rapid spread of this story:
Montgomery Advertiser (“Controversial publisher booted from alma mater’s hall of fame after pro-KKK editorial“):
The publisher of a small western Alabama newspaper who wrote a controversial editorial that calls “the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again” to “clean out D.C.” has been removed from his alma mater’s Communication Hall of Fame.
In 2007, Goodloe Sutton, 79, was inducted into the University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Communication Hall of Fame for anti-corruption articles and editorials.
After the Advertiser reported on Sutton’s recent editorial in the Democrat-Reporter newspaper in Linden, and subsequent comments, the university removed him from the Hall of Fame.
“Within the last few hours, the School of Communication at the University of Southern Mississippi learned of Mr. Goodloe Sutton’s call for violence and the return of the Ku Klux Klan,” a USM release stated.
“Mr. Sutton’s subsequent rebuttals and attempts at clarification only reaffirm the misguided and dangerous nature of his comments. The School of Communication strongly condemns Mr. Sutton’s remarks as they are antithetical to all that we value as scholars of journalism, the media, and human communication.
While I tend to be skeptical of removal of career honors for single acts, I’d say it’s appropriate in this instance. Being a double murderer certainly changes my view of OJ Simpson, but it really has no bearing on his greatness as a football player. Ditto serial rapist Bill Cosby and his comedy career. But Sutton’s award was for being an outstanding representative of Southern Miss’s School of Communications; he’s clearly demonstrated that he’s not worthy of that recognition. (At the same time, I wouldn’t retroactively revoke awards he and the paper won for taking down a corrupt sheriff years ago; that achievement stands independently of Sutton’s odious racial views.)