It’s like we never left!
But we have returned by a circuitous route to the same issues (minus, perhaps, slavery) and the same twistings of rhetoric, the same hatred of the enemy, the slanders, the stubborn refusal to accept facts in the face of ideologies. Here’s a piece I wrote in anticipation of this moment a year ago, and, sadly, it has not dated, nor become irrelevant.
But first, this shortened version of a newspaper article in the Richmond, Virginia paper, the antique version of the partisan madness of the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page. You need to remember that, ultimately, the North prevailed over the South as the Allies prevailed over the Axis and as Rome prevailed over Carthage: in terms of sheer production output. The Carthaginians were far superior sailors to the Romans, but the Romans defeated them by the sheer numbers of ships they could put in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Carthaginians could sink three ships for every ship they lost … and still lose. So, too, in the end, the North crushed the South by sheer output of war materièl. (This is not to discount the brilliance of the Western War, while the historical attention has always been selfishly focused on the East coast: the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac faced off for almost exactly four years over seventy miles of north-south territory, the bloodiest stalemate in our history.)
From Richmond’s Daily Dispatch, on April 8, 1861 [emphasis, as always, added. Good luck Mr. Phelps]:
The resources of wealth and power possessed by the slaveholding States are greater than can be paralleled on the globe. As already shown, their productive industry for each inhabitant is $85 per annum, while that of the West is but $72; and of the North less than $50, exclusive of the North’s products of manufactures. Helper states, from the census of 1850, the value of real and personal property of the North and West at $4,196,990,939; and that of the South at $2,826,735,970; which gives $386 per inhabitant for the North and West, and $303 per inhabitant, white and black, for the South. An immense portion of the wealth of the North, however, is but the accumulation of Southern capital; and the figures given would prove the South the wealthier section in productive resources, even if the valuations of property they are based upon were true….
We cut to the chase:
What a magnificent resource of credit and power would not this $462,560,394 of annual surplus wealth afford the South, if united in one great political confederacy of her own !–A mere ten per cent. import tariff would bring her forty-six millions of dollars of revenue; sufficient to defray all the expenses of her economical Federal Government, and leave twenty or thirty millions over, which would more than pay the fifteen million of State taxes now levied by the State Government directly upon its people; thus entirely relieving them of taxation. Was ever so noble a boon offered for a noble act, as is now offered to Virginia in favor of her uniting herself to the South?
When the war started with the firing on Fort Sumpter on April 12, 1861, four bloody years would pass, but the absurdity of this editorial would be apparent long before then. But now, 150 years later, not only are the same notions making the rounds again, but there is an open affection in some surprising circles for the notions of no taxes and the right of secession.
The most important aspects of last week’s media tempest in a teapot have been completely ignored by a seemingly either comatose or catatonic media. No one bothers vetting interviewees or asking the next question. In this case, an act of criminal neglect and journalistic malfeasance. So what else is new, right?
i. preamble, the Gadsden flag
While Newt Gingrich of Georgia promises another government shutdown, a far more chilling movement coils in the shadows.
What we LEARNED that we did not know, is that the Neoconfederate movement is far larger and far more influential than any had realized.
What was drearily DISCUSSED were the same old tired saws about whether the Civil War was about slavery, or whether the “War of Northern Aggression” was only peripherally about slavery and mostly about Confederate nobility, sacrifice, being bullied by the mean old North, and how mean the Yankees STILL are to the unreconstructeed secessionists (whose arguments about “a second American Revolution” and fighting for small government, etc. are TOO eerily similar to the current “Tea Party” screechers waving their Gadsden flags.)
… Anyone familiar with the Civil War knows that the preservation of slavery was not the only motive for secession and that Confederate soldiers saw themselves as defending hearth and home. Nor did every Union soldier feel called to battle by a commitment to emancipation.
Still, slavery was at the heart of the War Between the States ..
Aargh: Morally reprehensible ‘moralizing.’ But, instead of P.C. pussyfooting without actually managing to say much, like the LA Times, we might have connected the dots. Literally.
First, recognize that the Gadsden flag, the rattlesnake with its “Don’t tread on me” subtitle evolved from Ben Franklin’s “Join or Die” woodcut, arguably the genesis of all political cartooning in America:
Franklin’s call to unity against the British
(and CBS’s The Late Late Show’s Craig Ferguson’s arm tattoo)
Like the “Liberty Cap” it was a powerful symbol used in furtherance of our successful revolution. Inspired by Franklin’s snake, the rattlesnake with 13 rattles arose as the popular symbol of that unity. The Gadsden flag was,significantly, a South Carolinian’s invention:
[South Carolina Congressional Delegate Christopher] Gadsden also presented a copy of this flag to the South Carolina legislature in Charleston, South Carolina. This was recorded in the South Carolina congressional journals:
Col. Gadsden presented to the Congress an elegant standard, such as is to be used by the commander in chief of the American navy; being a yellow field, with a lively representation of a rattle-snake in the middle, in the attitude of going to strike, and these words underneath, “Don’t Tread on Me!”
It was a popular flag throughout the South during the Civil War — for obvious reasons.
It was also the FIRST flag of secession, the month after the election of 1860. The original is still on display at Fort Pulaski National Monument in Savannah, Georgia. Here is an old NPS brochure (because they change links all the time, and I’m sick of it. See page 11 of the .pdf*).
Ever since, it has been a popular, if neglected, symbol of American “freedom” — freedom generally being defined by whatever is being opposed at the time.
[* "In the midst of these preparations came the announcement that South Carolina had seceded from the Union on December 20. The news of this action was received in Georgia with demonstrations of wild excitement. In Savannah, people wearing secession cockades made of palmetto leaves erected a platform in one of the principal squares on which they placed a large picture of a rattlesnake with the inscription, "Don't Tread on Me." On the evening of December 26, companies of militia and citizens marched with torch lights and transparencies through the streets of Savannah in honor of South Carolina, and houses all over the community were brilliantly illuminated."]
Detail from above etching.
“drawn by Henry Cleenewerck, Savannah, Ga. ;
lithographed by R.H. Howell, Savannah, Ga.”
It has been particularly adopted by Libertarians, including a zillion public access cable shows, even as they die out from corporate greed (not wanting to waste bandwidth, you know) across America. Listen [emphasis added]:
… But thousands also carried the flag that is fast becoming a symbol of backlash against the president: a bellicose yellow banner depicting a rattlesnake poised to strike and bearing the slogan, “Don’t tread on me.”
Known as the Gadsden flag for its purported creator, Colonel Christopher Gadsden, it was a revolutionary war-era naval standard that was carried into battle during the civil war and flown during both world wars.
For years, it was an edgy way to express one’s patriotism. But recently the Gadsden flag was adopted by a certain conspiracy-minded, paranoid faction of the American populist right – libertarian types who in interviews question whether the 11 September attacks were an inside job, call for the abolition of the Federal Reserve, and who stockpile gold in preparation for the coming global economic meltdown.
Gadsden flags abound amidst D.C. teabaggers
The connection between libertarians and neoconfederates is not a tenuous one.
ii. Has the South risen again?
It seems rather astonishing, but the talking heads are already pooh-poohing this whole “Confederate History Month” controversy as just a meaningless kerfuffle, or, in the rightie blogosmear™ just another liberal attempt to smear Southerners or Tea Partiers, Libertarians, Conservatives, etc. Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.
Here’s a nice quote:
Let’s get this straight once and for all, shall we? The War between the States had no more to do with black chattel slavery than the War of Jenkins’ Ear. The very fact that Frederick Douglass and his fellow abolitionists had to work so hard trying to make it be about slavery — well after the shooting had already started — is more than enough evidence of that. Abraham Lincoln thought black people were subhuman.
Now, Smith’s as mainstream Libertarian as it gets, Eagle Scout, gun freak, Ayn Rand freak, and claims to have joined the LP in Colorado in 1972 (which was founded in Westminster, Colorado on December 11, 1971): “Neil joined the Libertarian Party in 1972 (serving on the national platform committee in 1977 and 1979) and became a life member of the NRA in 1974,” as noted on his website bio. He’s also the author of some Star Wars novels, in addition to his “straight” science fiction. (And a global warming denialist.)
In 2000, Smith also wrote an essay that was reprinted on the Council of Conservative Citizens website, “The American Lenin.”
Here’s an excerpt:
… The fact is, Lincoln didn’t abolish slavery at all, he nationalized it, imposing income taxation and military conscription upon what had been a free country before he took over — income taxation and military conscription to which newly “freed” blacks soon found themselves subjected right alongside newly-enslaved whites. If the civil war was truly fought against slavery — a dubious, “politically correct” assertion with no historical evidence to back it up — then clearly, slavery won.
Lincoln brought secret police to America, along with the traditional midnight “knock on the door”, illegally suspending the Bill of Rights and, like the Latin America dictators he anticipated, “disappearing” thousands in the north whose only crime was that they disagreed with him. To finance his crimes against humanity, Lincoln allowed the printing of worthless paper money in unprecedented volumes, ultimately plunging America into a long, grim depression — in the south, it lasted half a century — he didn’t have to live through, himself.
Yeah. Shitty that Lincoln got himself shot that way as a sleazy way of ducking responsibility.
In the end, Lincoln didn’t unite this country — that can’t be done by force — he divided it along lines of an unspeakably ugly hatred and resentment that continue to exist almost a century and a half after they were drawn. If Lincoln could have been put on trial in Nuremburg for war crimes, he’d have received the same sentence as the highest-ranking Nazis.
- You can find the whole essay on Smith’s website, or
- on the 2000 Council of Conservative Citizens’ site
Supremely ugly stuff. But, as you dig into the literature of the Neoconfederates,right in their mainstream.
Oh, and here’s L. Neil Smith today, from his abandoned blog, The Moratorium (August, 2009).
So, who is the CCC?
In the late 1990s, a kerfuffle arose about Bob Barr (instrumental in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton) and Trent Lott (then-Senate Majority leader) appearing before a seemingly “fringe” group called the Council of Conservative Citizens. (CCC, get it? although they refer to themselves as CofCC, to throw bloodhounds off the scent.)
I wrote about it, posting it on my webpage in those pre-blogging daze:
Representative Bob Barr represented the 7th Congressional District of Georgia* [*whose current flag was adopted in 1956.]Any coincidence between the December 1, 1955 Selma, Alabama incident, when Rosa Parks decided NOT to step to the back of the bus, and Civil Rights in Georgia is entirely coincidental, as the C of CC‘s linked group, the Heritage Preservation Association will go to great pains to tell you.*
“Even though certain ‘civil rights’ groups have started attacking the current Georgia state flag and other Confederate symbols, no one saw the flag change in 1956 as being racially motivated.”**
** You’re kidding, right? Right?!?
After reprinting an AP report that has fallen down the memory hole, I pursued the question of WHO the C of CC is:
But that wasn’t all. It got a lot worse. I had stumbled into the looking glass world of Neoconfederate historical denialism.
The Southern Poverty Law Center did much to expose the crackpot agenda of the C of CC:
Like the original White Citizens Councils, the CCC is made up of local chapters, some of which are active in civic affairs beyond the national group’s racist agenda. And until the 2000s, some of the group’s “uptown” attitude remained, as meetings resembled Rotary Club events more than Klan outings and regularly featured politicians as keynote speakers.
Most Americans learned of the CCC in late 1998, when a scandal erupted over prominent Southern politicians’ ties to the brazenly racist group. After it was revealed that former Congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.) gave the keynote speech at the CCC’s 1998 national convention and that then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had spoken to the group five times, both claimed they knew nothing about the CCC. However, an Intelligence Report investigation, publicized by national television and newspaper reports, made clear what the CCC really was: a hate group that routinely denigrated blacks as “genetically inferior,” complained about “Jewish power brokers,” called homosexuals “perverted sodomites,” accused immigrants of turning America into a “slimy brown mass of glop,” and named Lester Maddox, the now-deceased, ax handle-wielding, arch-segregationist former governor of Georgia, “Patriot of the Century.”
As evidence of widespread association between Southern GOP officeholders and the CCC mounted, Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson took the unusual step in 1998 of asking party members to resign from the group because of its racist views. A resolution moved through the U.S. Congress “condemning the racism and bigotry espoused by the Council of Conservative Citizens,” although it ultimately failed. (Congress had earlier condemned the black supremacist Nation of Islam in a similar manner, but failed to do the same with the CCC. Republican Party leaders, likely embarrassed by Lott’s very public connection to the CCC, managed to defeat the censure effort.)
But six years later, many Southern lawmakers were still pandering to and meeting with the CCC — and still pleading ignorance. According to a 2004 Intelligence Report review of the Citizens Informer, no fewer than 38 federal, state and local elected officials had attended CCC events between 2000 and 2004, most of them giving speeches to local chapters of the hate group…
And don’t forget former Virginia GOP Senator (and presumptive presidential candidate in 2008) George “Macaca” Allen, who had his own ties to the C of CC.
But what does this have to do with last week’s Virginia ‘Confederate Heritage Month’ brouhaha?
iii. Macaca, the C of CC and Charlton Heston
Well, you might recall that when George Allen was governor of Virginia, he started this whole ball of snakes rolling down the hill, by issuing the FIRST “Confederate Heritage Month” proclamation. From the linked article in The Nation:
Days after Allen’s proclamation, the S[ons] of C[onfederate] V[eterans] celebrated at the US Capitol. The featured speaker was Richard T. Hines, an influential Republican lobbyist and neo-Confederate financier who, a year earlier, had protested the erection of a memorial to black tennis star Arthur Ashe in downtown Richmond, Virginia as “an attempt to debunk our heritage.” The NAACP condemned Allen’s SCV-inspired proclamation, while Confederate Memorial Association President John Edward Hurley called the SCV’s celebration at the Capitol one of “the worst capitulations to white supremacy” since the Ku Klux Klan marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in 1920.
and here’s the caption:
This photo, published in the Summer 1996 edition of the Citizens Informer, the newsletter of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, shows George Allen, left, and actor Charlton Heston*, right, posing with [C of CC founder] Gordon Lee Baum and two associates [Citizens Informer editor Fred C. Jennings and C of CC national President Tom Dover].
And, remember, George Allen’s candidacy collapsed in 2006 when he tried to get a little too ‘cute’ with racist code-speak, calling an opposition researcher a ‘macaca’ which led to the revelation that it was simply another (foreign) version of the “N-word.” [2011 NOTE: Allen is running for Senate in Virginia, again.]
[* Two years later, in 1998, Heston would become spokesman and President of the National Rifle Association until stepping down in 2003 due to Alzheimer's.]
At the height of Allen’s governorship, in Spring 1995, the CCC’s Citizens Informer praised him: “Residents of the Old Dominion are rejoicing.” But the CCC’s invisible support became a potentially controversial matter after a 1998 Washington Post article by Thomas Edsall disclosed the CCC’s links to Bob Barr. CPAC head David Keene ousted them from his conference, bluntly telling the Post of his sudden discovery: “They are racists.”
Baum, for his part, maintains that Keene and CPAC’s attendees were well aware of his group’s racial views. “David Keene, he knew who we were,” Baum told me. “I mean, you have Confederate flags on each side of your booth–like, duh. But after the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan, he didn’t want us there.” (Baum said he “finagled” tickets for the 2006 CPAC convention and promoted the CCC from behind the National Rifle Association’s booth.)
And the C of CC’s founder, Gordon Lee Baum?
Gordon Lee Baum is the current director of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a conservative organization that succeeded the White Citizens Council. [...] In 2003, Baum was listed as one of the most prominent white supremacists in the United States by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
iv. Southern Heritage – the punch line
You may wonder what all this has to do with last week’s brouhaha. Well, while we were arguing whether slavery was the issue of the Civil War, and, of course, whether it was ‘significant,’ and how much apologizing was enough apologizing, etc. another, far more ominous issue was being utterly ignored.
Listen to last week’s for-publication reaction by Sons of Confederate Veterans “spokesman” Jeff Davis of Georgia:
“It has nothing to do with race or slavery or anything else,” Jeff Davis, the descendant of a Confederate soldier who now serves as a spokesman for the group [SCV], said Thursday.
“Anyone who really observes history knows that slavery didn’t enter the picture until mid-way into the war … really, slavery was not a part of the beginning of the war between the states; it was all about preserving the Union and preventing secession.”
Too bad nobody bothered reading Jeff Davis on the ‘Georgia Heritage’ website:
… here at the Georgia Heritage Council website. We’ve been brewing tea for the last six or seven years. Those who go back with us will remember what some called ‘grassroots organizing.’
While others make a lot noise rustling their tea bags they should look at who delivered the training sessions for grass roots, the creation and passage of legislation in Georgia more favorable to the proud heritage of Georgians along with protection for their monuments and memorials and perpetual recognition of Confederate Heritage Month. Even more, we have kept the real patriots and conservatives informed of the dangers of those who diminish our liberty and smear our patriots (e.g., the demagogues and frauds at SPLC) by our Hate Watch resource on our web site.
They falsely claim Lincoln’s devout Christianity when real history and his behavior reveals that his use of Bibical language was merely a tool of persuasion and convenient PR front. They talk about his “charity for all and malice toward none”. GHC has done a pretty good job of revealing hundreds of cases of atrocities, some from Lincoln’s direct orders that either killed or imprisoned thousands of people in both the North and the South … The horrible period known as Reconstruction hasn’t yet ended — second class statehood continues. We’re proud of our tea party that has been going for some time. We hope you like the brew we have concocted.
also on left sidebar; links to
And there’s lots and lots and lots more. Like this from their “hatewatch page“:
The collection of commentary, parody and news links below chronicles the “Hate Industry,” including the racial grievance pimps, hypocrites and demagogues in America. Examples of the worst of the Hate Groups we monitor are the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), La Voz de Aztlan, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). We want to hear from you. Please send feedback directly to the author or to GHC Chairman Jeff Davis.
Phone: 770-297-4788 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The supposed ‘Hatewatch’ page is populated with a number of Pat Buchanan (a ‘notable’ SCV member) pieces, along with Newsbusters, John Stacy ‘the other’ McCain, Joseph Farah at WorldNetDaily, Yid With Lid, Confederate Yankee,Jonah Goldberg, Operation Pitchfork, Michelle Malkin, and our old White Supremacist friends, the C of CC.
But this “Jeff Davis” character is the “spokesman” for the SCV.
the SCV logo
Here’s the SCV press release on the Virginia “Confederate Heritage Month” declaration that caused all the trouble:
April 5, 2010
Sons of Confederate Veterans
CONFEDERATE HISTORY MONTH IN VIRGINIA 2010 -
The Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans congratulates and thanks Governor McDonnell for showing both the insight and the courage to proclaim April as Confederate History Month in Virginia. This long overdue proclamation will do much to promote education and tourism in the Commonwealth. It will also spur localities in Virginia to honor and proclaim their own confederate history months while encouraging the teaching of their own local histories.
If the proclamation does anything, it hopefully will be a nail in the coffin of political correctness, an insidious disease infecting our nation….
You see, the Sons of Confederate Veterans USED to be like the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, basically a group that preserved and honored the grave sites of their fallen ancestors, with more than a bit of harmless Civil War “re-enactment.” Nothing particularly political.
But that all began to change in the late 1990s, coincidentally about the time I started looking into CCC and the Bob Barr and Trent Lott messes. A story emerged that received minor play in the national press:
Members fight for control of Confederate group
by Tracy Rose in Vol. 9 / Iss. 26 on 02/05/2003
The Mountain Press (Asheville, North Carolina)
Intent on his task, a blond-headed child with pink, chubby cheeks plants a miniature Confederate battle flag on a gravesite in a little church cemetery.
The placid image dominates the cover of a booklet on Confederate issues published by the N.C. Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Within the SCV’s ranks, however, a battle is now raging over whether the group should stick to maintaining gravestones, erecting monuments and studying Civil War history or fight for the right to display Confederate symbols everywhere from schools to statehouses.
The bitter conflict has divided the organization’s more than 31,000 members, all of them descendants of Confederate soldiers. Some disaffected members even formed a splinter group — Save the Sons of Confederate Veterans — last fall to defeat what they call the “radical agenda” of the current national leadership.
And smack dab in the center of the controversy stands Kirk D. Lyons, a Black Mountain lawyer who gained prominence years ago for defending members of the Ku Klux Klan and other white-supremacist groups. That background attracted national media coverage of the heritage group’s internal strife…
It’s a fascinating article and ought to be read all the way through. HERE. It continues with this:
Meanwhile, around the time that [Charles] Hawks was suspended, [Gilbert] Jones and other dissatisfied members announced the formation of Save the Sons of Confederate Veterans, described by Jones as “a group of guys that say the SCV needs to remain a historical and heritage organization. Our place is not in right-wing fringe politics: We can’t honor our ancestors if we get caught up in 21st-century politics.”
[Save the Sons of Confederate Veterans co-organizer Walter C. Hilderman III] maintains that the group is simply trying to return the SCV to its constitutional purpose.
“If someone wants to attack the government and advocate secession, they can join the League of the South,” he proclaims in a news release. “If they find some sort of warped virtue in racism, then go to the Ku Klux Klan. But this organization has rejected racism in its past, and it’s time to do it again — once and for all.” In fact, notes the press release, [SCV Commander-in-Chief Ron]Wilson has appointed members of hate groups to the SCV’s national governing board.
Unfortunately, the Save the SCV website tells the rest of the story:
As the August 2003 national convention of the Sons of Confederate Veterans approaches, we at Save the SCV (SSCV) feel that a report on the status of our activities and on the condition of the SCV is appropriate. For ten months, we have been trying to save the SCV from becoming permanently controlled by theLeague of the South* (LoS) and the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). Approximately forty members of these organizations are in leadership roles within the SCV. Our national leadership is encouraging this trend.
On November 16, 2002, after approximately six weeks of non-public meetings, the Save the SCV movement was launched in North Carolina with an initial mailing to eight-hundred camps and individuals, and activation of the website. We stated from the beginning that our intention was to identify those SCV leaders who have allied themselves with theLeague of the South and the Council of Conservative Citizens and vote them out of office at the next round of SCV elections.
Within several weeks, a counter-website was established at containing condemnations of Save the SCV, accusations that SSCV was somehow affiliated with Nazis, the liberal media, the Southern Poverty Law Center, communists, sodomites, scalawags, etc. A petition was circulated on the SCV leadership website and at camp meetings, calling for the expulsion from the SCV of all those who were active in Save the SCV. We were also condemned on the League of the South website.
The confrontation gathered momentum until after annual dues were received at national headquarters. Then, in late January 2003, using cover provided by the petition and the SCV leadership website, Commander-in-Chief (CIC) Ron Wilson struck back by having two veteran division office-holders fired; suspending eight camps, eight camp commanders and four brigade commanders; all in North Carolina (affecting 350 members in all). This action was taken immediately prior to the Division meeting at Roxboro, N.C. in order to prevent Save the SCV supporters from introducing resolutions and to keep them from voting at that meeting or at the upcoming convention. These suspensions effectively passed control of North Carolina to the four large radical camps: Charlotte, Albemarle, Morganton and Mt. Airy. Several of the suspended camps have recently purged their membership of SSCV supporters and are seeking to have their camp suspensions lifted; albeit with reduced memberships.
SCV Army of Northern Virginia Commander Charles Hawks was suspended by CIC Wilson then reinstated by the SCV General Executive Council (GEC) by a close vote. CIC Wilson then fired and replaced Hawks, ignoring the decision of the GEC.
[* League of the South, from Wikipedia:
The League of the South is a Southern nationalist organization, headquartered in Killen, Alabama, whose ultimate goal is “a free and independent Southern republic.”
There is a wealth of material if you’d care to look at it, in the archive at the Save the Sons of Confederate Veterans website, but, considering that the last posting is dated from 2007, I think you can deduce the outcome of the “purge.”
Who knows? Maybe some “reporter” will catch up, and figure out that there’s a real story here. Here’s a taste:
Fair Warning- An Editorial for Charlotte, North Carolina, June 8, 2006 [Edited August 28, 2007]
“I do unabashedly advocate that we [the Sons of Confederate Veterans] become a modern, 21st century Christian war machine capable of uniting the Confederate community and leading it to ultimate victory.” Kirk D. Lyons, December 20, 2005. (Source: See email to “Mike” dated December 20, 2005, attached).
Why do Charlotteans need to be concerned about the ravings of a neo-secessionist attorney who lives in the mountains of North Carolina? Here is why: Kirk Lyons is the national philosophical leader of the Sons of Confederate Veterans with its 30,000 members. His law firm in Black Mountain, N.C. is the Southern Legal Resource Center (SLRC) (www.slrc-csa.org. The Southern Legal Resource Center, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) (www.scv.org and a third organization, the League of the South (LoS) (www.dixienet.org), have assembled a core-group of leaders in the Charlotte Mecklenburg area.
These men are part of a multi-state plan to unite the bitterly divided factions of what Lyons called the “Confederate community.” A Charlotte attorney, Jim Hickmon, has recently become part of this effort. The Southern Legal Resource Center’s website announced Hickmon’s position in the firm on April 17: more
This isn’t just some old “Lost Cause” stuff, kiddies. These people are serious, organized, and they’re using their political clout. But the media entirely focused (pointlessly) on “slavery.”
Listen to Kirk D. Lyons of the Southern Heritage Legal Center (and SCV purger) in the 2003 article from the Asheville Mountain Express:
“That means that I did not surrender. Appomattox was halftime; war’s not over, because the issues underlying that war are still here today. My Confederate ancestors fought to prevent the nightmare government that we have now — that does not respect civil rights, that does not respect personal liberties and is becoming more and more a centralist dictatorship.”
And listen to buzzflash on Thursday:
… The SCV was once more of the Civil War reenactment, history-buff type of group. But in the past few years they’ve been infiltrated and purged of moderates by the likes of Kirk Lyons, founder of the Southern Legal Resource Center (SLRC).
Perhaps you remember Lyons as the guy urging Southerners to participate in a Census write-in campaign this year to mark their race as “Confederate Southern American.” This effort is but one in a long-ranging legal campaign to outlaw what Lyons and others see as discrimination against those who use the Confederate flag to identify themselves.
Lyons has worked and spoken for with several different White supremacist, American militia and neo-Nazi groups in the past, and his attempts to purge the SCV were documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups around the country…
So, the South of the CCC and the League of the South has not only NOT stopped fighting the war, but are aggressively pursuing their agenda. An agenda that was inadvertently “outed” this week before the media kerfuffle buried the “teachable moment” in a gummy-bear sludge of cliché.
Like the LA Times: pussyfooting and simpering.
So, what’s the punchline?
Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell declared the Confederate History month following the precedent of former (disgraced) governor George Allen, at the behest of the “new and improved” Sons of Confederate Veterans:
Brag Bowling, a “commander” in an organization called Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), advocated strongly for the proclamation, as he believes it will boost tourism in the commonwealth. And if you look at the Facebook profile of someone named Brag Bowling who is “a fan of” groups such as the SCV–Sam Davis Youth Camp and the Southern Legal Resource Center, Inc.(“Defending the Rights of Southerners to Honor Their Culture and Heritage”), you will see he is also friends with Kirk David Lyons.
Lyons, the chief legal counsel of the SLRC, likes to wear kilts, has a fascinating history of alliances with white-power groups, and is currently campaigning for people who are proud of their Southern heritage to give their race on census forms as “Confederate Southern American.”
This is a lot darker than it appears, and the media has dropped the ball on this one. But there’s one more punchline, beyond the Allen/McDonnell furtherance of “Lost Cause” mythology.
Of course, we could, like the LA Times, and the NY Times, and CNN and ABC and the rest, just say: Move along, move along. Nothing to see here. Nosiree. Nothing at all.
But you might be interested in the ravings of CSV spokesman, Jeff Davis, who welcomes the Tea Party to his picnic table on the levee.
Sounds an awful lot like that archived C of CC “Lincoln” page that our Colorado Libertarian contributed to.
So, let’s return to the Libertarian Party one last time. You remember Texas governor Rick Perry and his secession talk last year? Did you know that Rick Perry is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans? Just like Pat Buchanan (who melted down on the subject on MSNBC Thursday).
a proud member of SCV
Let’s carry that thought a bit further.
Carol Moore, a veteran of the LP going back to the 1970s notes the following very interesting fact about Libertarian philosophy:
SECESSION IS THE MOST BASIC POLITICAL RIGHT: The Libertarian Party platform explicitly mentioned Secession until 2006. [...] Secession really is the ultimate libertarian issue. Many libertarians believe that if the United States government recognized the right to secession, the U.S. would break up quickly into independent or loosely confederated states, regions and communities.
LIBERTARIANS ARE ALREADY ORGANIZING AUTONOMY/SECESSION MOVEMENTS: Like the Libertarian Party, the aforementioned Free State Project has not settled on secession as its ultimate goal, but includes many secessionists. The International Society for Individual Liberty and the Libertarian International Organization promote Swiss-style confederations of cantons and communities which recognize the right to secession. Lew Rockwell.Com repeatedly posts articles on secession. FreeMarket.Net features a secession page. Ad there is my own site, Secession.net There are a host of libertarian, free community, free country e-mail lists, web pages and projects like New Utopia, Freedom Shipand the Atlantis Project
And, this astonishing fact about the Libertarian Party platform (you know, the one on whose platform committee L. Neil Smith was on in 1977 and in 1979, along with Ed Crane, who now runs the Cato Institute? See the Libertarian Review, February 1979, page 18.) From Carol Moore (ibid.):
2004 L[ibertarian] P[arty] PLATFORM
III. Domestic Ills
Section 16 – SECESSION
(The Issue): People are forced to be subject to governments and to participate in their programs, usually as providers of financial support, regardless of their wishes to the contrary.
(The Principle): As all political association must be voluntary, we recognize the right to political secession. This includes the right to secession by political entities, private groups or individuals. Exercise of this right, like the exercise of all other rights, does not remove legal and moral obligations not to violate the rights of others.
(Libertarian Solutions): We support the right of political entities, private groups and individuals to renounce their affiliation with any government, and to be exempt from the obligations imposed by those governments, while in turn accepting no support from the government from which they seceded.
(Libertarian Action/Transition): As a transition step, we support the right of political entities, private groups and individuals to renounce their participation in any government program, and to be exempt from the obligations imposed by that program, while in turn accepting no benefit from the program from which they seceded.
Gee. “Southern Heritage” and “Libertarian philosophy” and “tea parties” sure do go hand in glove, don’t they? You know, along with all those Gadsden flags?
So, to bring it full circle, guess who the 2008 Libertarian candidate for President was?
© 1998-2011 Hart Williams
UPDATE, Sunday 11:25 AM PDT:
There is a useful summary (with links) of my coverage of this in “NEWSWEEK’s Southern Accents, or, Told ‘Ja So!” 28 April 2008.