They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

The weirdest piece of "hate mail" Lee Bebout got this spring after his Arizona State University course on the "problem of whiteness" made national news was about albinos.

"It was a letter from somebody here in Phoenix — they gave me their return address — who wrote to me to tell me I should look to the plight of albinos because that’s the real problem with whiteness," the ASU professor told TPM in a phone interview last week. "And that I should understand this because black people are really mean to albinos."

Strange letters about albinos notwithstanding, Bebout plans next semester to teach a revamped version of the course that put him at odds with Fox News and made him a target of white supremacist groups.

Campus Reform, the conservative student news website that first suggested Bebout's course was targeting white people, was quick to take note of this latest development. In an article last week, the website zeroed in on the change in the course's title in particular.

"Bebout said he had intended to call the course 'Disrupting Whiteness,' but ultimately settled on the more innocuous-sounding 'Whiteness and Critical Race Theory,' perhaps reflecting a desire to avoid a repeat of the reaction to the previous course," the article read.

TPM called up Bebout on Wednesday to talk about why he thought the "problem of whiteness" class elicited such a strong reaction and whether all that hubbub is informing his approach to the latest version of the course. Spoiler alert: he says it's not.

"I’m hoping there’s maybe less of a headache," Bebout said of next semester's class. "But I also know as somebody who’s been a scholar in critical whiteness studies for years that when you’re talking about whiteness, people get their hackles up."

Below is a transcript of TPM's conversation with Bebout that has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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He came for Leith, North Dakota and got thrown in jail for terrorizing his neighbors with a gun.

He came for Antler, North Dakota and had the properties he was eyeing bought out from under him.

Now he's coming for Red Cloud, Nebraska—and the town's residents, including members of a local militia, are already talking about how to thwart self-described white supremacist Craig Cobb.

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A Republican state official in Alabama has come under fire in recent weeks for speaking to a neo-Confederate group about his efforts to return portraits of segregationist former Govs. George and Lurleen Wallace to the state Capitol rotunda.

But in a Tuesday phone interview with TPM, state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) flatly dismissed criticism of the neo-Confederate League of the South as a hate group—and said he'd be happy to speak before the group again.

"There was no hate in that meeting except for one thing," Zeigler told TPM. "They hated it when the fried chicken ran out."

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House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) renewed his call for the restoration of the Voting Rights Act, suggesting Monday that it would have stopped Alabama from implementing a law requiring a photo ID at the ballot box.

Scrutiny of the voter ID law has increased with the announcement that Alabama will close 31 driver's licenses offices in the state – many in rural counties with a high percentage of black residents – which voting rights advocates fear will make it harder for African-Americans to obtain the IDs required vote.

“The Voting Rights Act was born from the bloody actions in Selma, Alabama, in March 1965, and since the Supreme Court struck down one of its most important protections – the federal Justice Department’s ability to prevent discriminatory rules like Alabama’s photo identification requirement – our democracy has been weakened," Hoyer said in a statement Monday evening.

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The state of Alabama has been accused of bringing back Jim Crow for closing 31 driver’s licenses offices in the state -- including all the offices in counties where African Americans make up more than 75 percent of the registered voters -- which critics say will further disenfranchise minority voters in a state that requires government-issued photo IDs at the ballot box.

The backlash Alabama is now facing reflects the state’s long history of blocking African Americans access to the polls, from 1965’s Selma protests that ushered in the Voting Rights Act in the first place to the 2013 Supreme Court decision in the Shelby County case that gutted a key provision of it.

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