On July 11th, Spokane, WA Republican Party chairwoman Cecily Wright introduced the alt-right personality James Allsup at a meeting of Northwest Grassroots, a local tea party organization.
Allsup—a 22-year-old elected GOP precinct officer and noted white supremacist—is introduced by Wright in a video of the event as a victim of “label-lynching,” a tactic she says is used by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center to “hang labels on people.”
From The Spokesman-Review, a local newspaper:
She continues: “If I started saying something about you, that you were a white supremist (sic), and you could say because so-and-so and such-and-such happened, and other people pick it up, and then if the news media picks it up, you’re dead meat, and it’s pretty darn sad. And people’s lives are destroyed with these labels that are being hung on them because we don’t take time to really figure out, is it true or is it not true? What is the purpose behind labeling a person a certain way or not?”
Then, Wright says, “I have a gentleman here this evening who has been label lynched.” But before Allsup stands before the camera to speak, Wright plays a recording of a speech he gave introducing Donald Trump during a 2016 campaign rally in Everett. At the time, Allsup said Trump would “take our country back from the globalists and the corrupt politicians.” He did not mention the subject of race as he has in more recent speeches, interviews, YouTube videos and social media posts.
“Did you just hear anybody that you disagree with in the video?” Wright asks. “Absolutely not.”
Yes, Wright did actually compare calling someone a racist with the horrific history of American mobs murdering innocent black people.
Allsup then gave a 15-minute speech in which he talked about his involvement in the notorious “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville last year, which he said was “totally misrepresented in the media.” He also spent some time attacking the media, and repeating disproved claims often made by Trump that illegal immigrants are “pouring across the border” and lowering wages for US citizens.
It was pretty standard stuff as far as GOP rhetoric goes. But what Allsup didn’t mention is that he is known to associate with blatantly white supremacist groups like Identity Evropa, which promotes “American Identitarianism” and argues for ending immigration.
As noted by the Spokesman, this is far from Allsup’s only white supremacist connection.
In past interviews, when asked about his views on race, Allsup has pointed to the works of Richard Lynn, a British professor who for 50 years has employed eugenics to explain racial and gender inequality. Lynn asserts that men, whites and Asians are genetically superior groups, and that the wealth and power of nations depends on their racial “homogeneity.”
Two months ago, before Allsup was invited to speak at the meeting, and after he was selected as a GOP precinct committee officer, Wright herself condemned his views. “His past statements, affiliations and actions are deeply out-of-step with the values of the Republican Party, as well as the values of the Spokane County GOP and our members. The Spokane County GOP remains committed to standing against white supremacy, racism, and bigotry in all forms,” she wrote in a statement.
But when she was contacted by the Spokesman for their article on his appearance at the Northwest Grassroots meeting, she acted as if she was unaware of his beliefs:
In a brief phone call Tuesday, Wright said her husband was the one who invited Allsup to speak at the Northwest Grassroots meeting. Asked if she was familiar with Allsup’s past statements and his affiliation with groups like Identity Evropa, Wright said she had not taken a comprehensive look.
“I have not looked over them all,” she said. “I did not investigate James Allsup. I know how he is portrayed, and he is not someone that I affiliate with.”
This phone call apparently led her to post an apology for Allsup’s invitation on Facebook.
“Northwest Grassroots is a group, independent of the Republican Party that does not shy away from controversial subjects,” she wrote. “Mr. Allsup reached out to my husband, John Charleston, the head of NW Grassroots, to discuss what he feels is an untrue characterization of him as a white supremacist.”
After some discussion, she wrote, Charleston felt that Allsup had been misrepresented and allowed him to speak at the meeting “to dispel the label he has been identified with as a racist and white supremacist – a chance to defend and explain himself.”
“As you can see from the video I did not praise him, I did speak about the need to do research before accepting what is said about people. Allsup did speak but did NOT denounce the vile, racist views he is associated with as was expected,” she wrote.
Ok, let’s get this straight. In June, Wright denounced Allsup as “deeply out-of-step with the values of the Republican Party.” In July, she introduced him at a political meeting as “a gentleman... who has been label-lynched” (again, a reference to the very real murders of thousands of black Americans by white mobs). Now, just a few weeks later, Wright says she expected Allsup to denounce his previously stated white supremacist views in the speech he gave, and calls his invitation “a serious mistake.”
From the Spokesman:
“I remain, as does the Republican Party, committed to standing against white supremacy, racism, and bigotry in all forms. That does not mean that we deny people the right to free speech but it is certainly a lesson to more thoroughly research individuals before giving them a platform to speak,” she wrote. “I hope the community and the Spokane County GOP understand that I consider this a serious mistake in my judgment and hope my explanation and apology is accepted.”
Why does this matter? Because Wright’s waffling over the acceptability of white supremacy within the Republican party is not just the story of one local GOP chairwoman—it’s a microcosm of what’s happening to the party on a national level.
Few of us can forget when President Trump—after the far right rally in Charlottesville that Allsup helped organize, in which counter-protestor Heather Heyer was killed by a Neo-Nazi—called the protesters at the rally “fine people.” We also remember when he initially refused to disavow an endorsement from former KKK grand wizard David Duke during his campaign.
There are currently at least two Republican candidates running for Senate who have openly supported white supremacist views. It’s almost like white supremacy, within the GOP, is not a bug, but a feature.