There was a time when former Olympian Bob Richards seemed like the epitome of the American man: a two-time pole vault gold medalist, he was the first athlete to appear on the front of wheat cracker boxes. “the breakfast of champions”, as well as the first spokesperson for the cereal.
but to some, richards is the gentle white american man. In a message posted on the website of the white supremacist American Third Position, the A3P, President William Daniel Johnson says he recently met with Richards at the latter’s sprawling ranch west of Dallas. “bob richards has joined our cause,” johnson proclaimed. calls from hatewatch to richards ranch yesterday seeking comment were not returned.
that a3p’s cause is to “represent the political interests of white Americans,” according to its mission statement. The California-based organization hopes to unite disaffected racists and field candidates for political office in the United States.
It remains to be seen whether a3p’s overwhelmingly young male members and supporters have heard of or care about an octogenarian whose popularity waned decades ago.
a3p was launched in January and has recruited some of the leading figures on the contemporary radical right. one of its directors is kevin macdonald, a psychology professor at california state university, long beach, who has written a trilogy of antisemitic books. another is james edwards, host of tennessee’s racist radio show, “the political cesspool.” As for Johnson, the president, he is a veteran white supremacist who has been welcoming to clansmen and neo-Nazis. The Los Angeles attorney has advocated stripping citizenship and deporting millions of non-white people, in fact anyone with a “perceivable trace of Negro blood,” from the United States.
that richards, 84, apparently sympathize with a3p is not all that surprising, despite the impeccably clean image he enjoyed as a gold medal-winning athlete (1952 and 1956), wheaties icon, reverend in the conservative church of the brethren and motivational speaker. In 1984, he was the presidential candidate for the newly formed U.S. populist party created by willis carto, a racist publisher who denies the holocaust. Richards and his running mate received 66,324 votes out of more than 92 million cast. the presidential standard-bearer of the populist party four years later, in 1988, he was the former clan member and anti-Semite David Duque; In 1992, he was Green Beret James “Bo” Gritz, an anti-government zealot who has cared about gays, feminism, and Jews. the populist party withdrew before it could field a candidate for the 1996 elections.
johnson says he wrote richards to tell him about a3p and his plans to make a short video “about the decline of western civilization and what can be done to stop this decline.” He asked if Richards would consent to an interview for the video, which he said would be posted on the A3P website and on YouTube. Richards called him, Johnson said, and the men met at Richards’ ranch last Saturday.
richards and his wife support johnson’s goal of a pro-white political party, johnson wrote. Near the end of a three-hour conversation, the men reportedly agreed that they would attempt to organize a “pro-free speech college” forum to be overseen by the League of Women Voters and sponsored by A3P in which they featured prominently. the importance of third political parties would be the issue. johnson and richards would discuss a3p on the forum, johnson said.
The plan calls for Richards to personally invite “big fish” with ties to third parties, including Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, Bill Moyers, Alan Keyes, Colin Powell and Ron Paul, to the proposed event. Just one problem, according to Johnson: While Richards “knows the big hitters… he doesn’t have regular contact with them, so it’s really going to be a cold call on his part. we need to find contact numbers for them.”
johnson proposed that the forum be held in six months. Richards’ response, according to Johnson: “Hell. our country is dying. six months is too long. let’s do it right now.”