Not such a good week for Florida kluxers, our would-be champions of racial superiority. You gotta wonder, if these not-so-good ol’ boys were so damn superior, how did they get themselves jammed up in a near-idiot murder plot.
Two members of a Ku Klux Klan outfit, including Charles Newcomb, the self-proclaimed “Exalted Cyclops” of a Union County klavern, were convicted in a murder-for-hire plot up in Columbia County. Back in 2015, the two former guards at the Florida Department of Corrections Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler, along with Thomas Driver, a third guard with the good sense to plead guilty back in March, tried to hire someone to knock off a black former inmate. Turned out that someone was a federal informant.
The informant produced tapes of his conversation with the white supremacists that raised, along with other profound questions of our time, this one: superior to whom?
The conspirators suggested that the anointed hit man abduct the former inmate and inject him with insulin, which they reasoned would disguise his death as accidental.
Exalted Cyclops: “I set that fishing pole like he’s been fishing, and give him a couple shots, and we sit there and wait on him, we can kind of lay him like he just kind of tippled over into the water. And he can breathe in just a little bit of that water.”
Klansman Elliot Moran: “What do you … what do you mean? You talk about taking him fishing or watching him?”
Exalted Cyclops: “I'm talking about jerking his ass up, putting him in the car and taking him down there.”
Moran: “Yeah, but does he fish?”
Exalted Cyclops: “It don’t matter.
Indeed, it hardly mattered. The FBI staged a fake murder tableau that the pretend hit man photographed on his cell phone and showed the intrepid klansmen. The not-so-supreme white supremacists were besides themselves.
The convictions came on the heels of the Aug. 8 bust of neo-Nazis over in New Port Richey — adding to collective consternation. As in, what the hell is going on here in Florida with these far-right lunatics?
Police said the raid on the home shared by five members of the so-called American Nazi Family had yielded methamphetamine, opiates, drug paraphernalia, stolen ID cards and a bundle of Nazi propaganda, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Even more disheartening to wanna-be white supremacists, the Times published photos of the Florida Nazis. None of these slovenly characters is a candidate for America’s Next Top Model. Not even the Humane Society’s Dog of the Month.
Then, on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that far-right blogger Jim O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, had discovered that his participation in the now infamous gathering of Nazis and alt-right nasties at Charlottesville, Virginia, last week was not much appreciated by his bosses back home in Florida. O’Brien, who was outed after he was busted by Virginia police on a misdemeanor concealed-weapons charge, was fired from his management job with a Tampa Bay-based commercial roofing contractor. The CEO told the Times that his company denounces “white supremacy completely.”
It’s almost as if Florida has ventured into its musty basement and discovered a stomach-curdling infestation of kluxers and neo-Confederates and Nazis and alt-right extremists. Just this week, the University of Florida refused alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s request to speak on campus in September, citing, in the wake of the deadly violence in Virginia last week, “serious concerns for safety.” Spencer was a leader of the alt-right march on Charlottesville.
That made for a jarring juxtaposition with a report in the Miami New Times this week that Ocala State Sen. Dennis Baxley would lend his prestige to the Save Southern Heritage Florida’s annual banquet in September. The theme this year, of course, is the “War on the South.” Save Southern Heritage Florida aims to stop the removal of Confederate memorials, like that statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee that set off last week’s hostilities in Charlottesville. (As the New Times pointed out, this is the same Sen. Baxley who this year managed to kill legislation behind a proposed memorial for victims of slavery in Florida.)
Baxley shares his admiration for Confederate iconography with notable part-time Florida man Donald Trump, who (to the horror of his advisers) was tweeting away Thursday that it was “sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.”
President Trump lamented: “The beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”
Trump’s tweets might have given comfort to neo-Nazis, white supremacists and alt-right activists bent on protecting memorials to pro-slavery secessionists (even if that means violence), but I doubt that his politically disastrous tweets lent much support to the tattered notion of white supremacy. At least not in Florida.