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Sometimes Just Say No : State senator accepts invitation to speak to alleged supremacists

August 26, 1994

State Sen. Don Rogers says he sees nothing wrong with his planned appearance Saturday night at a convention of alleged white supremacists. We do. Rogers, an Antelope Valley Republican, will be sharing the speaker's platform in Bakersfield with a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan in Texas and an organizer for the Aryan Nation. They and other kindred spirits will be there under the auspices of a newspaper called Jubilee, which is a national publication of the Christian Identity movement. According to a respected watchdog group, that movement's followers consider just about everyone who is not of Northern European background to be racially inferior. Nice company to be in, if you happen to be a practicing bigot. But hardly the kind of company that any responsible state official would choose to spend an evening with.

Rogers blandly describes his hosts and others who will be at the convention as "patriotic Americans," an identification that inevitably and immediately brings to mind Samuel Johnson's sardonic mid-18th-Century definition of patriotism as the last refuge of scoundrels. In any event, Rogers says, he knows nothing about the charges that the Jubilee newspaper promotes racism (a smidgen of research would have cured this ignorance), and, anyway, he himself doesn't share the views of white supremacists. In that case why will he be supping there? Because, he says, it's his "impression" that the Jubilee people "are working to preserve and restore individual rights and freedoms"; presumably by using their freedom of speech to preach racial and religious intolerance.

Rogers is 66 years old and no doubt well past the time when he might effectively be instructed in how public officials should properly behave. In any case he is a lame duck who under the term limits measure approved by voters will be gone from the Legislature in two years. None of that, however, excuses the irresponsibility of his decision to associate with a group whose alleged philosophy deserves condemnation by all decent people. The hatemongers knew what they were getting when they invited Rogers. And he knew too.

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