Saul Anuzis, the former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, announced this week that he’s running to replace Michael Steele as the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Anuzis — who also ran against Steele in 2009 — is widely considered to be a front-runner, and says that he plans to keep a low profile, telling Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Monday that he just wants to “make sure the trains run on time.”
Keeping a low profile may be a good strategy for Anuzis — this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed that Anuzis has defended and endorsed a vocal right-wing extremist named Kyle Bristow, who was the head of the Michigan State University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (MSU-YAF). “This is exactly the type of young kid we want out there,” Anuzis said on a radio program in May 2007. “I’ve known Kyle for years and I can tell you I have never heard him say a racist or bigoted or sexist thing, ever.”
Throughout the “years” Anuzis professes to have know him, Bristow and MSU-YAF have engaged in a series of disturbing racist and homophobic activities. MSU-YAF staged events like “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day,” held a “Koran Desecration” competition, jokingly threatened to distribute smallpox-infested blankets to Native American students, and posted “Gays Spread AIDS” fliers across campus. Bristow is on record saying “Homosexuality kills people almost to a degree worse than cigarettes,” adding, “these [pro-gay rights] groups are complicit with murder.” He also invited Holocaust denier Nick Griffin, who is the leader of the whites-only British National Party, to give a speech at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, MI.
Many students quit MSU-YAF after Bristow began engaging the group in these activities; one student said she left MSU-YAF because it gained a reputation as a home for “racists and fascists” under Bristow. “Frankly,” she said, “he’s embarrassing.”
Thanks to Bristow’s leadership, the SPLC — which tracks extremist groups — designated the MSU-YAF as a hate group in 2006. Bristow appears to have taken the designation very personally. He recently wrote a novel with a plot that “evolves around a series of violent revenge fantasies against Jewish professors, Latino and Native American activists,” and also includes a graphic murder targeting a character only thinly veiled as an SPLC staffer:
The supersonic projectile hit the leftist agitator one inch below the eye, and the bullet exited the back of his head nanoseconds later. … Brain, blood, and skull fragments burst forth from what was once Greenberg’s head, and the leftist was blown off both of his feet. Greenberg died instantly, and his last words were “We must destroy the plague that is Western culture.” Ironically, Western culture got him first. From Valhalla [a celebration hall in Scandinavian mythology], Thor, the archenemy of trolls, smiled at the accomplishment of the epitome of Western Man.
“Several notable white supremacists and anti-Semites have endorsed the novel.” It should be noted that Anuzis’ defense of Bristow came almost a full year after MSU-YAF’s exploits were made public, and after the SPLC designated him as the leader of a hate group.
Anuzis would hardly be the first high-profile RNC chair candidate in recent years with a checked history on race. In 2008, former Tennessee GOP Chair Chip Saltsman, who also ran Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign that year, infamously sent out a “Christmas gift” to RNC members, including a song titled, “Barack the Magic Negro,” which parodied Obama “as a black man acceptable to whites.” Another song, “Star Spanglish Banner,” disparages Latinos.