The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Southern Heritage Group Offers Kids Unusual History Lessons

By Heidi Beirich on July 8, 2010 - 4:28 pm, Posted in Neo-Confederate

Each summer, a few lucky young folks, whose parents presumably have neo-Confederate sympathies, spend a week at a Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) Sam Davis Youth Camp. The camps are inspired by the words of a Confederate officer warning that a Southern loss in the Civil War meant its history would be “written by the enemy.

Now in their seventh season, the Southern heritage group’s youth camps are supposed to help parents take “responsibility” for teaching “our Southern history and culture.” They feature a week-long reeducation of sorts, one that is needed, says the SCV, because today’s youth run a “terrible gauntlet” and “many are struck down along the way by one or more of the politically correct influences which flourish in our schools.” The youth camps are meant to harden these youngsters so they can withstand “the liberal, politically correct view of history.”

SCV campers

The camps are heavily indebted to Kirk Lyons, a white supremacist lawyer who led a decade-long effort to recruit hate group members to the SCV (Lyons was at one time a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance). Lyons, who said in 2000 that his goal is “a majority European-derived society,” serves on the SCV committee that oversees the camps. He has lobbied to have SCV funds dedicated to camp scholarships and his own children have participated in the events.

Also serving on the camp’s oversight committee is Ron G. Wilson, a former SCV commander-in-chief (2002-2004) who once served on the board of Lyons’ legal firm. Working closely with Lyons during his tenure as commander, Wilson appointed racists and anti-Semites to key SCV posts, purged some 300 SCV members and leaders who opposed racism, and worked to turn the SCV into an actively neo-Confederate organization. The Sam Davis Youth Camps, which are programs held in various venues rather than specific physical locations, were inaugurated under Wilson’s leadership.

So what does the SCV teach today’s youth? Campers are exposed to various “truths” about what the SCV calls “the War for Southern Independence” and are given “thoughtful instruction” in a whole host of topics: “Southern history, the War Between the States, the theology of the South during the War, lessons on Southern heroes, examples of great men of the Faith, and for the first year, special programs and sessions for our Southern ladies!”

The first camp of the 2010 season was held in Clifton, Texas, during the third week of June. According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, the campers were taught that the Civil War was not about slavery. “Too many people have bought into that notion,” Texas SCV Commander Ray W. James told the newspaper, “and wrongly exalt then-President Abraham Lincoln as wanting to end slavery.” Lincoln was actually “a bigger racist than I ever knew,” James said of the author of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The campers also enjoy some interesting musical entertainment. This year, campers were serenaded by the Farnum Family, a singing group that puts on the annual “Songs for His People” gathering in Branson, Mo., which has often featured Christian Identity pastors. Christian Identity is a virulently racist and anti-Semitic religion that claims Jews are biologically descended from Satan and minorities are not human and do not have souls, having been created by God on the same day as “the beasts of the field.”

At the 2000 Songs for His People, for instance, Pastor Charles Jennings reportedly called himself “a strong racist” and said that he was pleased at “the quality of our race is in this room.” Identity Pastor Ted Weiland was similarly strident, telling the audience, “There is a Jewish agenda against Christianity.” Weiland claimed, “They [the Jews] are not the true Israel. They say we are the haters, but the Jews are the enemies of Christ.”

When asked about Weiland and Jennings’ comments, Norm Farnum told Hatewatch, “They were taken out of context.” When asked if he was a Christian Identity adherent, Farnum said, “not in the context that the Southern Poverty Law Center means.” He declined to elaborate.

The Farnums have some other unusual acquaintances. Their website links to Pastor John Weaver, whose 2001 defense of American slavery caused a firestorm after a newspaper reported that his tract was being sold at Piggie Park, a South Carolina barbecue institution. Weaver’s publication claimed, among other things, that “many … African slaves blessed the Lord for allowing them to be enslaved and sent to America.” Weaver has also been identified as a member of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). Earlier this decade, Weaver served as chaplain-in-chief of the SCV.

Lyons is a big supporter of the Farnums, writing on Facebook that “this band MADE the western Sam Davis camp.” Lyons solicited $3,000 on Facebook to bring the Farnums to the Sam Davis Youth Camp that was held in early July in South Carolina. When asked by Hatewatch whether he had concerns about the Farnums, given their connections to Christian Identity pastors, Lyons said, “They are a wonderful family and they have been a blessing to the camp.” (Click here to see a video of Lyons speaking in early July at a confederate flag rally in Columbia, S.C., that also featured the CCC’s Kyle Rogers).

  • B.L. Geyer

    As an ex-SCV member, I’m here to tell you all that the SCV is basically the logical descendant of the Ku Klux Klan. It’s magazine has articles that border on things the Klan was famous for. The term for the members and their magazine is “thinly veiled.” Now there are a few SCV units who try to treat both Confederate and Union equally, but most don’t. It is made up mostly of people whose families, since 1865, have never gotten over the Union success – they are very much still fighting the Civil War, handed down from generation to generation. They tend to be very right wing, mostly racist – using the N word freely (of course in their own company) and very hateful. If the Civil War wasn’t over slavery, why do they blame Black Americans for all their troubles. They all call themselves Christians. But Christians are not supposed to hate. At least that’s what I thought Jesus taught – Christianity is supposed to be a peaceful religion. Oops, my bad – the Crusades – we’re still fighting the Crusades. That’s right – it was we supreme, intolerant and hateful Christians who in 1096 A.D. attacked first.

  • stephen burns

    what a great program for our youth to learn the real history of our country and learn why abraham lincoln caused the death of so many americans.So sad that so many people refuse to see the truth.At least we can teach our youth the real history as it happened and not as it was rewritten by the victors.I will contribute financially and with my continueing support for this type program.States rights were lost after lincoln usurped the constitution and attacked a sovereign nation carelessly causing the death and plunder of confederate homes and buissinesses.Also the ongoing plunder of the southern states that continues,to this day.Anyone that refutes this history has a personal agenda to promote lies and misinformation.Most are people that profit from the issues created by promoting racial disenfranchises and federal power abuse.

  • beholder

    Capitalism sure bumped off a few folks in the past 100 years, Jeff. Including some heads of state in Latin America.

    And, oh, colonialism, fueled by jingoistic profiteering, nothing to do with Marx? that too seemed to go hand in glove with mass murder.

    Come to think of it, Adolf Hitler was pretty tight with the moneymen too as I recall, but somehow not too keen on Marxists. Seemed to send a lot of them to the gas chambers for some reason.

    And George Bush left a million dead in Iraq himself. Are you saying he was a Marxist?

    Shall we look at the international trade in small arms, propped up by the good ol’ capitalistic USA. I’d say small arms qualify as the world’s real weapons of mass destruction. Who owns the mines? Who owns the mills? Who owns the wars?

    Not the Marxists, my dear. The banks.

  • Jeff Sardella

    What’s wrong with Marx? Only Marxism, what else is responsible for more deaths in the 20th century?

    Paen, we have yet to have a BLACK president. President Obama is not decended from American black slaves .His
    father is a Kenyan . His American heritage is white. He has nothing to do with the heritage and struggle of American blacks. We are still waiting.

  • beholder

    What’s wrong with Marx?

  • Ronnie Abrams

    The poster Paen fails to mention Jim Limber an orphaned black child that the Davises took in. When Richmond fell to the Federalists, Jim was abducted by yankee troops never to be heard from again.

    Also we must not forget Lincoln was really a marxist as Karl Marx admired him and wrote him often. Exiled marxists were brought to America and made colonels and generals in the federal army.

    A convenient truth always omitted from the Lincoln myth whether you subscribe to moonlight and magnolias or not.

  • Jeff Sardella

    Miss Beirich seems to write using hearsay and prejudice.
    Our children are constantly being taught to be ashamed of their heritage and to worship those who waged war and destruction on their ancestors,from the government school system and the media. The Sam Davis Youth Camps and other such activities for our children, are to balance this.
    One only has to compare the character of the leadership
    prevalent in the South as compared to the leaders of the Northern forces. Lee ,Jackson and Stuart are great examples for our children compared to Sherman ,Sheridan and Grant who waged total war on civilians.
    Miss Beirich ,if you are looking for hate-just read some of the letters Sherman wrote regarding the extermination of the southern people!
    Also ,look up Judah P. Benjamin. Jefferson Davis’ attorney
    general-he was Jewish.

  • Clifton Palmer McLendon

    IGNORANCE: A lack of knowledge, either in general or of a particular point.

    BIGOTRY: Obstinate and unreasoning attachment to one’s own belief and opinions with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.

    PREJUDICE: Unreasonable predilection for or objection against something; or an opinion or leaning adverse to anything without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge; or an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics; or an opinion or judgment formed beforehand or without due examination.
    [definitions taken from Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.; 1981)]

    The author of this article shows her lack of knowledge about the Sons of Confederate Veterans in general and the Sam Davis Youth Camps in particular.

    She shows an obstinate and unreasoning attachment to her own belief and opinions with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.

    She shows an unreasonable objection against the Sons of Confederate Veterans — an opinion formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge – and an irrational attitude of hostility directed against the Sons of Confederate Veterans and by extension all things Confederate.

    She is, therefore, guilty of ignorance, bigotry, and prejudice.

    Inasmuch as the Southern Poverty Law Center promulgated her article, they are also ignorant prejudiced bigots.

  • Bennet Young

    Dear Heidi,
    I am not wrong. It is you that have twisted the facts. You say that Wilson appointed all these racist. In the IR article called Hate in the Ranks it supposedly listed who these people were. At first glance the list looks long. But looking closley you will see it is only about 29 people listed mutliple times. Then some of the groups listed were not not hate groups. In addition many of those men did not even belong to the groups the IR said they did.

    Also memnbers were not expelled for being against racist. It was nothing more than a power struggle than many groups have. Many of the men the IR listed as belonging to hate groups are the are men who fought against Wilson and are now gone.
    As far as that one line from Kirk, that may have been his personal opinion, but I can tell you as a fact that members have been expelled through out that time period up untill the present for “mere Klan membership”.
    You have constucted a house of cards with Lyons at the bottom. Along the way you have slandered good men who want nothing more than a vigorous defense of their heritage.

  • Heidi Beirich

    Mr. Young is simply wrong about what happened in the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) when Ron Wilson and Kirk Lyons were in the group’s leadership. Wilson, as commander of the group from 2002 to 2004, put racists and other extremists, including Lyons, in positions of power. Besides promoting extremists, under Wilson’s leadership the group also expelled dozens of members who wanted racists out of the group. While members were being tossed out for taking an anti-racist stance, Lyons had this to say in an E-mail about those he thought should be allowed in the SCV: “Mere Klan membership should not be sufficient to remove a member.”

    For those interested in learning more about what happened to the SCV, here are links to stories on this topic:
    Into the Wild
    Uncivil War

  • Charles Johnson

    I call you leftists what you are: cowards, bigots, liars, demagogues, and, worst of all by far, enemies of Truth. Remember, millions of good Americans are sick and tired of political correctness and will stand with me. So I say to you leftist legal aliens: If you like name-calling and you want to fight, OK. I’m a racist, sexist homophobe, and I’m in your face. What’s it to ya?

  • Bennet Young

    This is the usual pack of lies, half-truths and guilt by association that Hiedi always writes. I hav been active in the SCV for many years and know these men. Kirk Lyons has not tried to recruit racists into the SCV. If he has , they did not join. Ron Wilson did not appoint racist and anti-semites. The problem here is, if anyone dares to be proud of his heritage, and it is not politcally correct, they are labeled racist. It is the splc who act as Nazis. Any one they think they can use to whip up folks in order to raise money they attack. They are not a “watchg group” They are a very partisan far left hate group themselves.

  • venomlash

    The very fact that this kind of indoctrination is necessary for the ideology of the neo-Confederates to be passed on is a telling witness to the fact that it is at its root illogical, absurd, and dogmatic.

    @Butler Reynolds: Except there actually was slavery going on in the South.

    @Sam Molloy: “And the Jews? If it weren’t for them there would be no Christianity.”
    More importantly (in my opinion), if it weren’t for us there’d be no Einstein, Stephen Jay Gould, or Marx Brothers.

  • beholder

    By the way the expansion westward into Texas by what were illegal aliens (Anglos) prior to taking the land by force from Mexico was due in large part to the falling cotton prices and pressure from the North about slavery.

    Slaves weren’t legal until after Sam Houston and the rest took over by force and eventually turned Texas into an Anglo slave holding state. The land was needed to prop up cotton revenues which were hit hard in the early 19th Century.

    Just strikes me as ironic given the vitriol in the Lone Star state against “illegal alien invaders”.

  • beholder

    Very interesting about the Northern secession effort. Of course let’s not forget that the entire history of American polity pretty much ignored the opinions of those who were enslaved or pushed off their lands in the case of the indigenous. So when we talk about the politics we’re only seeing the views those who had political rights.

    To Sam Molloy, I don’t think anyone here is saying the Civil War was not about slavery. My comment is that the entire political question was more complex than a human rights issue. The South was paying tariffs on industrial goods from the north while cotton prices and other commodities were tanking. The wealth of the South came from land and slaves, not silver. It was a way of life based on slavery, but the issue itself was not slavery it was the way of life, at least politically.

    I find it a very telling moment in American history given Andrew Jackson’s dedication to the Union and to the white commoner (while perhaps a wannabe elitist, he did come from the backwoods and was the first such President) is directly contrary to his views on black or Native American people. A lot of that still exists today.

    “Criminal aliens” comes to mind. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is chanting his “illegal is illegal” thing now. Reminds me of rhetoric behind the extermination of the indigenous.

  • LotusGeek

    Now, before I make my comment let me make it PERFECTLY clear that I abhor racism of any kind, and I am appalled at how it continues to permeate society in the 21st century (you would have thought we’d have learned better by now…).

    My comment is that, while Lincoln personally detested slavery (as he stated publicly repeatedly prior to the 1860 election), he was desperate to preserve the Union, and before the start of hostilities was willing to preserve slavery in the “slave states” if the Confederate States would not carry through with secession. He made this stance perfectly clear in his Inaugural Address. From Wikipedia:

    “Also in his inaugural address, in a final attempt to reunite the states and prevent certain war, Lincoln supported the pending Corwin Amendment to the Constitution, which had passed Congress the previous day. This amendment, which explicitly protected slavery in those states in which it already existed, was considered by Lincoln to be a possible way to stave off secession. A few short weeks before the war he went so far as to pen a letter to every governor asking for their support in ratifying the Corwin Amendment.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln

    Of course hostilities commenced in 1861, and the rest (as they say) is history.

    Incidentally slavery WAS a major cause of the secession – period.

  • Butler Reynolds

    I suspect that the Civil War was about slavery in the same way the war in Iraq was about weapons of mass destruction.

  • http://conniechastain.com Connie Chastain Ward

    Many differences between north and South fed the sectionalism in the decades before the war, but slavery was the one used to substitute for all the others, artificially inflating its importance in secession and the war.

    Abolitionist William Seward, recognized this: “Every question, political, civil, or ecclesiastical, however foreign to the subject of slavery, brings up slavery as an incident, and the incident supplants the principal question.”

    So slavery’s place in the causes of the war was artificially enlarged by supplanting other issues with it. Most people today are clueless about this, though some know it and ignore it.

  • Difluoroethane

    beholder,

    You’re right. Also, there were some abolitionists in the North (such as William Lloyd Garrison) who argued that the _North_ should secede from the _South_ over the issue of slavery. Garrison believed that Northerners who valued freedom should not let themselves be “yoked” to a region of the country that still supported slavery. If I were living in that time and place, I might have agreed with him; I can definitely see why he might have been angry enough to support such a policy.

    Lincoln, on the other hand, was very reluctant to oppose slavery at first. In the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln pragmatically made clear that he was only freeing slaves in the _rebellious_ states, because he wanted to keep slave-holding “border” states on the side of the Union.

    However, Lincoln’s anti-slavery views strengthened during the course of the Civil War, and he eventually found himself admitting that the war was about slavery, not
    about “preserving the Union” as he had initially claimed. So his history, and that of the entire Civil War, is more complex than many people realize.

  • Sam Molloy

    Of course the Civil War was about slavery. That was the burning issue for the 30 years leading up to it. The Confederate constitution was a lot like ours, except their “first amendment” included a clause that nobody could criticize slavery.
    And the Jews? If it weren’t for them there would be no Christianity.

  • beholder

    I think the historical record shows the Civil War was due in very large part to slavery as a political bone of contention. I’m not so sure it was due to slavery as an institution (and I am no neo-Confederate let me make it clear, they’d probably try to lynch me if they had a chance!).

    The reason I say that is that South Carolina and Andrew Jackson’s close associate turned adversary John C Calhoun were divisive over federalism even in as I recall the 1830s. May not have the date right, but well before the Civil War. Having bought into the theory of “nullification” he became a figurehead for the secessionist movement long before slavery became the primary motive. Lincoln even referred to Jackson as having solved the question of dissolving the Union in his justifications for fighting the Civil War to prevent it from happening.

    Certainly slavery was part of the problem all along, and it was an easy institution to galvanize supporters around on both sides of the political debate — Calhoun himself was a vocal supporter of slavery as was his adversary Jackson. One loved the Union, the other wanted to dissolve it. So in that sense even the early Secessonist movement was clearly about slavery, but my point is merely that there were more historical factors at play that simply human bondage itself, and the anti-secessionists were not necessarily anti-slavery.

    That said I think the wacko neo-confederates try to turn a blind eye to the moral problems of slavery when celebrating the ante-bellum South, and that is a graver concern in my mind than simplifying the Civil War to the issue of slavery alone. It’s one thing to have a critical and contextual read on history, another to parse out bits and pieces to indoctrinate youths with in some faded musty old theory of nullification.

  • Paen

    I wonder if these folks are very happy that a descendant of Jeff Davis ended up being the first Black President?

  • Carter

    This is a classic racist agenda; “get your foot in the door”. The mechanism is to use “socially acceptable” dialog of “Southern Heritage” which then morphs into “European Heritage awareness”, with a smooth transition to classic racism.

    If Christian Identity “Pastors” suddenly started jabbering & blathering paranoiac ideas of Jews & snakes the majority would be walking out the door. The agenda is to introduce racism subtlety and to get those young people involved!

    In any normal adolescence there are times of trials & painful moments. To take advantage of this is easy going IF you “normalize” the experience of generalizations & over-reaction to formulate racism.

    It’s sad to see picture of fresh faced young people knowing that they are exposed to ridiculous theories & hateful false interpretations of Christianity.
    “Pastor” Jennings says he was pleased at “the quality of our race is in this room.” Like some bovine breeder, he thinks he can pick out the real prize winners.

    How disgusting these False Profits are….