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Despite Boss’ Support, Rand Paul’s Aide Quits Amid Criticism

By Don Terry on July 22, 2013 - 1:44 pm, Posted in Neo-Confederate, White Nationalism

Miss Scarlett, the “Southern Avenger” has surrendered.

On Sunday, Jack Hunter, a close aide to U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, announced he had resigned from the Kentucky Republican’s Washington staff after a storm of controversy erupted July 9 surrounding Hunter’s past neo-Confederate statements and views, such as toasting the birthday every year of President Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

The resignation came despite Paul’s outspoken defense of his aide, in which the senator claimed that there was “no evidence” that Hunter had exhibited any bigoted beliefs or behavior.

As a right-wing columnist and radio pundit in his native South Carolina, Hunter would often don a mask resembling a Confederate flag during public appearances and billed himself the “Southern Avenger.”

While in his 20s, the now 39-year-old Hunter was a chairman in the League of the South, labeled a neo-Confederate hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But in an E-mail Sunday to The Daily Caller News Foundation announcing his resignation, Hunter said he had adopted “a more tolerant worldview.”

“I’ve long been a conservative, and years ago, a much more politically incorrect (and campy) one,” he wrote. “But there’s a significant difference between being a politically incorrect and racist. I’ve also become far more libertarian over the years, a philosophy that encourages a more tolerant worldview, through the lens of which I now look back on some of my older comments with embarrassment.”

Hunter told The Daily Caller, a right-wing website run by one-time TV pundit Tucker Carlson, that he resigned to avoid being a distraction for Paul “and to clear his own name, which he argues is now unfairly associated with racism.”

He also wants to resume his career as a pundit – without the mask or the moniker.

The firestorm was ignited by a conservative online news journal, The Washington Free Beacon, which wrote a long story about Hunter’s neo-Confederate beliefs, including supporting secession. The story was called “Rebel Yell.”

The revelations of Hunter’s past and the reaction to it prompted some soul searching on the radical right. Michael Hill, the increasingly militant head of the League of the South, reached the conclusion that there’s “no place in the GOP for Southerners who wish to remain … Southerners.”

“Just so there’s no chance you’ll confuse The League with the GOP or any other ‘conservative’ group,” Hill said in a statement quoted on the white nationalist Occidental Dissent website, “here’s what we stand for: The survival, well being, and independence of the Southern people. And by ‘the Southern people,’ we mean White Southerners who are not afraid to stand for the people of their race and religion.”

A few days before Hunter announced his resignation, Michael Gerson, a columnist for The Washington Post and the former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, blasted both Hunter and his boss Rand Paul for defending Hunter.

The headline on the July 18 column was, “Rand Paul can never be a mainstream Republican.”

“Rand Paul has fallen spectacularly off the tightrope,” Gerson wrote, adding that Hunter’s past views and words were not just “youth and stuff,” as Paul put it, but “a decade spent mainlining moonlight and magnolias in the ruins of Tara.”

Hunter co-wrote Paul’s 2011 book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington, and joined the senator’s staff in 2012 as social media director. His close association with Paul could hurt Paul’s rumored presidential ambitions for 2016, Gerson said.

“What does this mean for the GOP?” Gerson wrote. “It is a reminder that, however reassuring his manner, it is impossible for Rand Paul to join the Republican mainstream. The triumph of his ideas and movement would fundamentally shift the mainstream and demolish a century and a half of Republican political history.”

Run, Rand. Run.

  • Aron

    If it looks like a racist, smells like a racist, and walks like a racist, it’s probably a duck.

    Wait, what? ;-)

  • Railroadmike

    If you read George Washingtons “Farewell Speech”, a person can see who our “Domestic Enemies” that occupy the halls of Congress.

  • Roger B.

    If it looks like a racist, smells like a racist and walks like a racist. It’s probably a racist.

  • Matthew Bright

    Yeah, “campy.” First time I’ve come across that term to describe malignant and organized race hatred.

  • Sam Molloy

    Gregory, I read that linked article and I believe it to be a real good example of fictional history. Lincoln’s college roommate, Joshua Speed, (the one who kept The Diary….) was from here and the Speed family Plantation house, Farmington, built in 1805 (10?) was restored in the 1960’s. It was on a visit to Farmington that Abraham Lincoln got his revulsion for the institution of slavery. Make no mistake, slavery was THE issue from 1830 or so until the Civil War. A Mr. Calhoun was all for it, and there is no Calhoun Street in Louisville – but there is in other cities. The controversy over Sherman’s March to the Sea ( planned at the original Galt House hotel in Louisville at 2nd and Main, which, oddly enough, burned soon after the war) as in, whether it was right to make war on civillians, or tactically smart to create so much resentment unnecessarily, is a separate issue. So is the question of whether a state, or any area of any country, has the right to secede and form their own country if it’s people vote for that to happen.

  • Gene in L.A.

    Resigning says nothing about any change in attitude, and won’t “clear his name” of association with racism. Only his words and actions from now on can do that.

  • Georgia Citizen

    Dump the mask and the bigoted views and everything will be all right.

  • Sam Molloy

    The NPR station in Louisville tonight 7/22 quoted Rand Paul as saying they had reached a mutual agreement as his appointment was overshadowing the issues that are important. ( not taped, but this is as I remember hearing it through the shop din. As you know, I am a rivet puncher in a dog collar factory…) They went on to say that Mitch McConnell was facing a Tea Party Republican in the Republican primary, and between that and the Democratic challenger he does not know whether to poop or fall back in it. As I remember hearing it.

  • Gregory

    Some people may consider 2009 to be the dim past, another era when things were different and Paula Deen was popular. To me, it just seems like four years ago.

    Here is one of Hunter’s columns from that long ago time,

  • Erika

    He can probably make more money on the right wing media circuit now anyway thanks to this exposure anyway

    or maybe he is planning to seek his fortune on the wrestling circuit.