In early February 2021, a purported photograph of two billboards in Harrison, Arkansas circulated on Facebook and Reddit — the first of the two claiming that “anti-racist” is a “code word for anti-white”:
All iterations featured the same photograph showing the two billboards:
“Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White”
“Welcome to Harrison
No Wrong Exits
No Bad Neighborhoods
HarrisonArkansas.Info Sponsored by Harrison Area Business Owners”
At the bottom of the second billboard, a URL (HarrisonArkansas.Info, archived) was listed; as of February 8 2021, the link led to a WordPress site with a static homepage. An entry (under “Home”) began:
Thank you for visiting the HarrisonArkansas.info website. This website is sponsored by area business owners in order to give an accurate representation of our fair town.
Harrison was named after M. L. LaRue Harrison, a union officer who surveyed and organized the lot divisions.
Several paragraphs later, a section read:
The city started out with a very conservative residential and business base. The famous, “Christ of the Ozarks” was established in 1966 by Gerald L.K. Smith and his wife. They also began the widely acclaimed Passion Play about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Smith was in association with Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Elizabeth Dilling, Father Coughlin, and others known for their pro-American activities. Smith was an early supporter of local Boone county preacher Thom Robb and all have been labeled by some as racist. Though Lindbergh, Ford, Dilling, and Coughlin are all deceased, they maintained at the time as well as Thom Robb does today, (He also serves as the national director of The Knights Party) to be pro-white only.
Nearly all tabs in the navigation menu led to “check back soon” messages, suggesting the site was hastily assembled, then abandoned. The only visible date on the site was “March 2014.”
A reverse image search returned 40 crawled instances of the image being published, beginning in May 2014. The image circulating in February 2021 accompanied a May 12 2014 NPR article (“Tale Of Two Billboards: An Ozark Town’s Struggle To Unseat Hate”), the audio version of which aired on All Things Considered.
NPR reported that Harrison and its surrounding enclaves “[grappled] with a culture that has historically turned a blind eye to bigotry,” and a common “portrayal of a hotbed of hate,” continuing:
That’s partly because of some of very outspoken people based in Harrison, like Mike Hallimore, director of Kingdom Identity Ministries. The group, Hallimore says, believes “in the government of God on Earth — theocracy according to God’s laws.”
Those laws, he says, call for execution in cases of blasphemy, abortion or homosexuality. He preaches that Jews are descended from Satan and that only absolutely pure-blooded Caucasians enjoy what most would call a soul.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says tens of thousands follow Hallimore’s ministry online. Like most prominent white supremacists in the Ozarks, Hallimore is a transplant. He moved here from California.
“I like rural living for one thing,” he says. “But of course I like that it’s predominantly white.”
Hallimore is not the only one.
At the library in Harrison, lots of people seem to know Thom Robb, a pleasant-looking, middle-aged fellow who runs the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
“I have identified myself as a Gandhi of the White Nationalist Movement,” he says. Robb says he doesn’t hate black people. He just loves white people so much, he says, that he doesn’t abide so-called race mixing.
A caption underneath the image of the billboard read:
Several white supremacist groups have roots near Harrison, Ark. Residents believe a yellow billboard in town is a reaction to a local effort to make the town more inclusive.
The billboard was not fabricated and the image not manipulated. It appeared in a May 2014 NPR article about vocal white nationalists in Harrison, Arkansas (transplants both), and counter-efforts by Mayor Jeff Crockett and residents to disavow white supremacy, including a symbolic “funeral” for racist speech and bigotry.
As the Anti-Defamation League has explained, this phrase is a slightly laundered white supremacist slogan:
Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White” is a racist slogan that became popular among white supremacists in the mid-2000s. It is derived from a short essay commonly referred to as “The Mantra,” popularized by long-time white supremacist Bob Whitaker. “The Mantra” attempts to rebut accusations of racism by claiming that people who profess to be anti-racist are actually trying to destroy the white race and that the term “anti-racist” is equivalent to “anti-white.” Whitaker’s followers have convinced themselves that if they simply repeat The Mantra, or the slogan derived from it, that they can somehow capture or reframe debates about racism. They frequently exhibit the slogan on signs and banners.
On the r/Arkansas Reddit post, u/acamp4587 commented in response to the OP’s question of whether the billboards were “real or fake,” stating:
It was real, but we worked hard and got it removed. Now there is only one for “White Pride Radio.”
The fight against racism and extremism is real in Harrison.
In a separate reply, u/carrothouse added:
It’s not there anymore, to my knowledge, but there is a prominent “whiteprideradio . Com” billboard shortly after entering town from the east side.
Put the spaces in that quotation so it doesn’t link to a klan website
Edit: Mixed up east and west. If you’re headed westbound through Harrison you’ll see it on the eastern side of town[.]
Tge “anti-racist is code for anti-white” billboard was displayed in Harrison, Arkansas in 2014; NPR covered “dueling billboards” and identified white nationalists linked to Harrison. Residents said that the billboards were removed after they worked to get rid of them, but they added that billboards advertising “White Pride Radio” remained; we were able to track down an August 2020 CNN story about the effort to get those removed.