The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
A large Confederate battle flag snapping in the wind at the top of a pole in front of the county courthouse in the small rural Georgia town of Summerville must come down and “it shouldn’t have been put up there in the first place,” the city’s first black mayor told Hatewatch today.
“It certainly sheds a negative light on the city and the county,” Mayor Harry Harvey said. “We have a lot of positive things going on in the area, a lot of progress, and this distracts from it. It’s not something we want to be known for.”
With permission from the Chattooga County Commissioner, Jason Winters, the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) raised the flag at the beginning of April (Confederate History and Heritage Month in Georgia) with plans to replace it at the end of the month with a rotation of other Confederate emblems, such as the Bonnie Blue flag, according to journalist Tyler Jett.
Jett said Commissioner Winters had told him two weeks ago that he would consider removing the flag if it caused any controversy in the city of 4,600 residents, about 28 percent of whom are black.
It has done just that, yet the flag remains, just yards from the front door of the Chattooga County Courthouse.
“County governments in Georgia should not approve another permanent display of the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” Rev. Dr. Francys Johnson, a civil rights attorney and president of the Georgia NAACP, said in a statement on April 13. “[SCV}’s insistence on using the Rebel Battle flag, a patently offensive symbol of hate, for display from the Courthouse and places of sovereignty such as flagpoles is a part of their effort to win a war that was lost 150 years ago.”
The flag overlooks a 7-foot tall granite monument on the courthouse lawn honoring Confederate soldiers. Stan Hammond, commander of the local SOCV chapter, told Jett that the monument and flag commemorate the fallen sons of the South. “They’ll never be forgotten,” he said.
But it is not just Summerville’s black population that wants the flag to come down, Jett said. “A ton of white people, that I’ve talked to in that town, aren’t happy with it either,” he said.
Sutton Connelly, an attorney who practices law in Summerville with his legendary grandfather Bobby Lee Cook, told Hatewatch that “people are starting to galvanize against” the battle flag.
“I do not believe that flag should be flying in front of the courthouse given the connotations it carries,” Connelly said. “We should have two flags in front of the courthouse: the Georgia State flag and the flag of the United States of America.”
Mayor Harvey, who took office in 2013, said the monument, which has been in place for about eight months, should also be removed from the front lawn of the courthouse – “one of those places where justice is supposed to be dispensed to everybody fairly.”
The mayor said he has spoken with Winters about removing, at the very least, the battle flag and the commissioner is “working hard on a resolution.”
“I don’t have a time table for when that will happen,” the mayor said. “But the commissioner wants to see the city progress, too.”
The telephone at Commissioner Winters’ office was repeatedly busy on Wednesday, and Hatewatch was not able to reach him for a comment.
When members of his congregation recently told Rev. Solomon Missouri that there was a large Confederate battle flag in front of the courthouse, the young pastor was incredulous. He could not believe that local and county officials would allow such a display on government property, not in 2015, 150 years after the Confederate surrender, not with a black man in the White House, not with Summerville’s black population pushing 30 percent and not, for the first time in the town’s history, with a black mayor and a black police chief.
“The flag must come down,” the pastor said in a letter he personally delivered to Winters’ office, according to Jett. “If this sign is part of your collective heritage, then your heritage bears the stench of oppression. If this sign evokes feelings of pride than (sic) your pride is indeed a sin.”
Members of the League of the South (LOS), the Republic of Florida Militia (ROF) and student protestors from Florida State University faced off last weekend in front of the Old Capitol Building in Tallahassee, Fla.
Prominent LOS leaders, including Brad Griffin, a key organizer, and Michael Tubbs, LOS chief of staff and an ex-Green Beret who stole weapons and explosives from the U.S. Army for the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in 1987, stood alongside members of the ROF to protest the school’s Students for Democratic Society (SDS) recently burning a Confederate flag to protest increased KKK recruiting in the Tallahassee area. Within days, the League and ROF, led by Jordan Jereb, organized a protest that culminated with a tit-for-tat response –– burning a Soviet flag.
“After talking it over, we decided that we would show up in Tallahassee, confront SDS, tell the communists to get out of Florida, and then spit on, stomp on, and burn the Soviet flag in front of them,” Brad Griffin, who sometimes goes by Hunter Wallace and runs the racist blog Occidental Dissent, wrote.
“A crowd of about 30 spoiled brats, communists, and trannies chanted for a while, shouted some unimaginative slogans, and gave a few speeches about the tyranny of ‘cisgender heteronormative privilege’ while 13 or us starred them down in bemusement while holding Reds Out of Florida Signs” and two flags, the Florida State Flag and the Bonnie Blue Flag,” Griffin wrote. “We unfurled the Soviet flag, laid it out before them, and took turns spitting on it, stomping on it, and standing on it underneath our boots.”
What seems especially notable about the event is the alliance between ROF and the League, which in recent years has grown more radical despite serious efforts to perfect its public image. While League members are encouraged to wear black polo shirts and khaki pants to public events in order to improve the public perception of the group, clothes can only do so much to make the man.
In fact, the League’s public makeover has proved to be nothing more than a mirage. Despite his desperate wishing for the LOS to become a respected voice in an imaginary struggle for the future of the South, Griffin, one of the standard-bearers for the League’s new image, has brought to the table an angry coalition of misfits and ex-cons – like Jereb and Tubbs.
“I’m angry. I’m full of HATE,” Jereb wrote on Facebook last week. “I’m not gonna lie about it. If there were a few hundred clones of me this system would have quite a situation on its hands. That is really how I feel. Is feeling that way a crime? Maybe. But blacks feel the same way and nobody seems to get mad at them for it.”
Days before that, barely a month after being released from jail on burglary charges, Jereb also professed his love for Molotov cocktails and shared a video that details an argument for when it’s okay to shoot a police officer.
As a convicted felon who can no longer own firearms, Jereb need not worry about shooting anyone, let alone a police officer – a fact he may be coming to terms with if his recent stream of Facebook photos is any indication. Photos of Jereb toting firearms have been replaced by workout selfies with captions such as, “Turning my body into a weapon.”
But perhaps LOSers hanging with criminals isn’t that surprising given recent developments in the organization.
Last September, Hatewatch revealed that LOS leadership, after years of increasingly violent rhetoric, had taken steps to make its vision for a new southern uprising a reality by forming its own paramilitary organization called the “Indomitables.” LOS president Michael Hill also recently espoused an anti-Semitism worldview in his online writings, posting articles written by disgraced, anti-Semitic professor Kevin MacDonald, claiming the South’s biggest problem is the “Jewry” problem.
Despite its best attempts to sterilize its vitriolic message, the façade put forth by the LOS continues to crumble.
Members like Jereb demonstrate the realities of its increasingly extreme membership — a membership that, at the end of the day, spends its free time harassing student organizations under the guise of moral outrage.
Sanctity of Marriage-Alabama held another rally against marriage equality this past Saturday on the steps of the Alabama Capitol in Montgomery. The rally featured several speakers who not only decried the January federal court ruling that struck down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage, but also homosexuality in general. This is the second rally the group has held this month (the first was Feb. 7) and the second time that theocrat John Eidsmoe was a speaker. He was the keynote at the first.
Eidsmoe is listed as “senior counsel and resident scholar” at the Foundation for Moral Law (FML) a Montgomery-based organization founded in 2002. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was president of the FML until he stepped down in 2013 to run for the position he now holds. His wife, Kayla Moore, is currently the president.
Eidsmoe also has notable ties. In 2005, he addressed the national conference of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens. He is a favorite of the neo-Confederate League of the South, which calls for a society run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate African Americans and other minorities.
Moore, who received myriad accolades at the second rally as well as the first, is at the center of a controversy that erupted after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade ruled that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional in January. Moore has stated publicly that Alabama judges need not honor the ruling and warned of a “confrontation” with the federal courts. The Southern Poverty Law Center has since filed an ethics complaint against Moore, arguing that he has committed ethical violations and encouraged lawlessness by attempting to assemble state officials and judges to oppose the federal judiciary.
In keeping with Moore’s theme, Eidsmoe claimed that state courts “are not bound by federal district and circuit court opinions.” But he also read, aloud, the beginning of the 1987 biting satirical essay “The Homosexual Manifesto,” which is used by anti-LGBT groups to “prove” the existence of a “gay agenda” and to link gay men to pedophilia. The manifesto was written under the name “Michael Swift,” possibly a pen name and an homage to Jonathan Swift, who also wrote satire. The first line, which anti-LGBT groups ignore, is, “This essay is an outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor.”
After reading the short passage, Eidsmoe exhorted the crowd to Google the essay to read it for themselves.
Other speakers included Alabama Republican state representative Will Ainsworth, who linked same-sex marriage to polygamy when he said, “Allowing the whims of our pop culture to redefine marriage is a slippery slope that could lead to polygamy. Where does the definition stop? Think about that.” He then quoted Isaiah 5:20, which states, in part, “woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”
Pastor Aaron Motley of Montgomery’s Miracle Deliverance Temple of Christ had stronger words, linking homosexuality to perversion when he claimed that it’s an “insult” to compare LGBT rights to the civil rights movement because “one seeks to protect our rights as human beings under the U.S. Constitution and moral laws and the other seeks the acceptance of a perverted lifestyle.” He further claimed that the “gay agenda is designed to undermine all that the civil rights movement set out to do.”
The crowd, which appeared to be around 200 people (some estimates are higher), included members or supporters of the League of the South, some of whom carried flags that featured a red cross with white stars on a blue background, which looks a lot like the 3rd Kentucky Mounted Infantry Regiment flag, used also as a battle flag for Confederate general John Breckinridge’s division, though the cross also carries religious symbolism.
This isn’t the first time the League has expanded its traditional, secessionist mission to protest same-sex marriage. Last year, members gathered outside the SPLC offices and also in Richmond, Virginia.
Members of the Maryland-Virginia chapter of the League of the South (LOS) are set to host an event celebrating John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
The event, organized by Shane Long, the Vice Chairman of the Maryland-Virginia LOS, is scheduled to take place in Baltimore on April 11th.
“The Maryland-Virginia League of the South commemorates the actions of Mr. John Wilkes Booth of Maryland who, motivated by the tyranny his Southern people faced, answered his calling with courage and fortitude,” states the Facebook page for the event.
The event is just one more example of the type of inflammatory rhetoric that has become the norm during the recent evolution of the LOS from a would-be heritage organization to a full-blown bastion of neo-confederate extremism perhaps best exemplified in September of last year, when a Hatewatch investigation revealed that after a year of regular street demonstrations and activism, LOS leadership had authorized the formation of a paramilitary militia known as the “Indomitables.”
The John Wilkes Booth celebration will be the third event held by LOS in 2015, following a recent demonstration held in Gainesville, Fla. and a protest scheduled in Vidalia, Ga. for late March. Both events have been titled “Immigration Hurts Southern Workers,” a strategy repeatedly utilized by LOS in 2014 in order to appeal to more moderate Southerners, though whether the celebration of the murder of a U.S. president is a “traditional conservative value” remains to be seen.
“This 14th of April will mark the 150th anniversary of John Wilkes Booth’s execution of the tyrant Abraham Lincoln,” wrote LOS president Michael Hill. “A century and a half after the fact,” writes Hill, “The League of the South thanks Mr. Booth for his service to the South and to humanity.”
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security will hold yet another hearing this afternoon, and no surprise —members of the anti-immigrant right are once again itching to have their voices heard.
For the second time in just over a week, the Subcommittee has stacked the day with testimony from some of the most hardline immigration opponents in the debate. And if it’s anything like before, what they’ll say will be more of what we’ve come to expect from the anti-immigrant right: worries based more on fear than fact.
The published list of witnesses scheduled to be called for testimony include so-called immigration experts who have spent years demonizing immigrants, warning that they spread disease, take jobs from U.S. citizens and responsible for increases in crime, a dubious fact with little statistical support.
Among them is Sheriff Sam Page of Rockingham County, N.C., a longtime ally of some of the most established anti-immigrant groups in the country, including the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
This past summer, Page took part in a two day “fact-finding”trip to McAllen, Texas, compliments of FAIR. The trip took place as panic mounted on the right-wing over children escaping violence across Central America and showing up on the U.S. border. He also is a regular attendee at FAIR’s annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire”event in Washington, D.C., an event that brings together anti-immigrant activists, right-wing radio hosts and politicians to bolster outrage over immigration.
Page has taken part in a number of events organized by the Constitutional Sheriff’s & Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), a group founded by former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, a leading figure in the antigovernment movement. At a 2014 CSPOA event, Page was pictured shaking hands with Michael Peroutka, a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS).
Dan Cadman, a CIS senior fellow, and Frank Morris, a CIS board member, are also testifying this afternoon.
Morris has been involved in the anti-immigrant movement for decades, serving on the board of numerous groups including FAIR and Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) — the group he is representing today. He was also led attempts to appeal to the African-American community through the creation of front groups such as the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) and its predecessor, Choose Black America (CBA). Both groups, now defunct, sought to divide communities of color over the issue of immigration by promoting the falsehood that immigrants are taking jobs from African Americans.
Though Morris and Cadman do not have a history of racist statements, the organization they both hold title with, CIS, most certainly does.
Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, CIS executive director Mark Krikorian wrote, “My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough.”In 2008, CIS published a report in which it called immigrants who marry U.S. citizens “Third-World gold-diggers.”And Jessica Vaughan a CIS staffer who spoke at last week’s immigration hearing on Capitol Hill, wrote in 2008 that one legacy of the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) program, “has been its contribution to the burgeoning street gang problem in the United States.”
Nestled in the rolling hills of the Ozark Mountains, Harrison, Ark., has a refurbished old-time town square and a steadily growing community college. Yet, like scores of small cities and towns across the country, the town could always use more tourist dollars and new businesses.
What the largely white city of 13,000 residents does not need is another racially provocative billboard, churning up its ghosts and scaring away potential industry and employees. But that is exactly what Harrison got Tuesday when the neo-Confederate Alabama-based League of the South (LOS) unveiled its latest billboard, once again plastered with the group’s one-word silent scream, “#Secede.”
The League, which advocates for a second secession—like the first went so well—and a society dominated by “European Americans,” has previously placed billboards in Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. But this is apparently its first foray into Harrison, the site since 2013 of a war of words and billboards that has pitted white nationalists against the city and the Harrison Community Task Force on Race Relations.
My racially charged silly billboard file is getting thicker and thicker these days.
The radical right loves the relatively cheap to rent outdoor signs. For more than a year, billboards with racially provocatie, anti-diversity or white nationalist messages have been popping up along the highways of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.
The billboards have been sponsored and supported by anonymous online segregationists, predicting “white genocide,” and old-fashioned racists such as members of the Ku Klux Klan, desperate to be relevant. But the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS) has been especially billboard-happy. Since 2014, the League or its individual members can be tied to at least six billboards, usually plastered with one word, “Secede.”
Now comes word that a “mystery donor” has stepped forward to help keep the billboard campaign going well into the southern summer and maybe beyond. “An offer too good to refuse,” is the way the president of the League, Michael Hill, put it yesterday on the group’s Facebook page.
The donor has offered to match up to $10,000 in donations to the League’s “general billboard fund” between now and Feb. 20. “This is an offer too good to let pass without taking maximum benefit from it,” Hill wrote. “Think about what we could do with $20,000 seed money in a League billboard fund.”
The League advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans.” On its website, the group says that if “the South is going to survive, especially against a flood tide of massive Third World immigration and leftist attempts to destroy her very cultural and political foundations, she is going to have to seek her independence and govern herself.”
“We in the League,” the group adds, “believe that we must secede to survive.”
One of the places the League sponsored a “Secede” billboard last year was in Montgomery, Al. It was taken down within days after the billboard company received complaints and some businesses said they would discontinue renting the space in the future if the sign was not removed.
Before the sign came down, AL.com asked Hill if southern states did secede would black southerners be treated as citizens with equal rights. “That is the kind of thing in our ideal world that would be left up to individual states,” Hill replied.
A few weeks later, a League member independently purchased space on a billboard near Leeds, Al. That sign quoted the white nationalist mantra, “Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White.” That sign came down after a few weeks, too. “I guess even racist idiots have freedom of speech,” David Miller, the mayor of Leeds, told Hatewatch. “As soon as it went up, we hopped on it and condemned it.”
This month, an anonymous group of segregationists, calling themselves the White Genocide Project, sponsored a racially charged billboard in Springville, Al. It read: “Diversity Means Chasing Down The Last White Person.” It came down five days later after the billboard owners were flooded with complaints, and, they said, some threats.
On the League website, Hill called the removal of the Springville sign “censorship,” which he said, “has a way of breeding more of what the censors attempt to sensor.”
“So don’t be surprised,” he continued, “if you see more billboards and other forms of ‘unapproved dissent’ springing up all across the South.”
Faced with an exploding crisis sparked by the revelation that the No. 3 Republican in the House gave a speech to a well-known group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis a dozen years ago, the GOP in Rep. Steve Scalise’s home state of Louisiana is doubling down, calling the entire episode a mere “manufactured blogger story.”
Really? A manufactured blogger story?
Scalise claimed yesterday that he had no idea of the views promoted by the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), whose workshop he addressed in 2002 at a hotel in Metairie, La. And he was backed by an array of Louisiana Republicans including state GOP chair Roger Villere Jr., who described Scalise as “a man of great integrity who embodies his Christian faith in his life.” Villere dismissed the story broken by Louisiana blogger Lamar White Jr. as “an attempt to score political points by slandering the character of a good man.”
But Scalise’s claim of ignorance is almost impossible to believe. He was a state representative and an aspiring national politician at the time, and Louisiana-based EURO already was well known as a hate group led by America’s most famous white supremacist.
EURO was founded two years before Scalise agreed to speak to its conference by Louisiana resident David Duke, a media-friendly neo-Nazi and onetime grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who had made a national name for himself by running repeatedly for office. He won his first elected office in 1989, when he became a state representative, garnering local headlines across Louisiana. In 1990, he won more than 600,000 votes in an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate, and in 1991, he took almost 700,000 votes in a run for governor. Newspapers around the world wrote about his ultimately losing fight against the scandal-dogged Edwin Edwards and the bumper sticker it engendered: “Vote for the crook, it’s important.”
Video of the 2005 EURO conference.
That’s not all.
Newspapers at the time of the EURO conference reported that a minor league baseball team from Iowa had changed hotels after learning that it would be held where they planned to stay. A hotel official also told a local paper that the company “did not share the views” of EURO, according to the Huffington Post.
And Scalise’s claims met with skepticism even from some well-known out-of-state conservatives. “How do you not know? How do you not investigate?” asked Erick Erickson, a former Louisiana resident, on his RedState blog yesterday. “By 2002, everybody knew Duke was still the man he had claimed not to be. EVERYBODY. How the hell does somebody show up at a David Duke organized event in 2002 and claim ignorance?”
In an interview with NOLA.com yesterday, Scalise reiterated the claim that he had no idea what EURO was and said that he “went and spoke to any group that called.” That prompted Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin to ask the obvious question: “Would he have spoken to a KKK rally? To the American Nazi Party?”
The fact is that Scalise may have had some real affinities with EURO. In 1999, Roll Call reported that Scalise “said he embraces many of the same ‘conservative’ views as Duke, but is more viable.” To the extent that he had a problem with Duke, it appears it was only that he was unelectable. “Duke has proven he can’t get elected,” Roll Call quoted Scalise as saying, “and that’s the first and most important thing.”
In 1999, Scalise voted against making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a state holiday, one of just three state representatives to do so. And in 2004, two years after the EURO conference, he was one of six to vote against the holiday.
There appears to be no transcript of Scalise’s speech to EURO, but blogger Lamar White Jr., who first broke the story on Sunday, found postings on the neo-Nazi Stormfront Web forum that described it. In one, a user said Scalise “brought into sharp focus the dire circumstances pervasive in many important, under-funded needs of the community at the expense of graft with the Housing and Urban Development Fund, an apparent giveaway to a selective group based on race.”
A colleague at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich, actually attended EURO conferences in 2004 and 2005. The venues were adorned with Confederate flags and racist slogans and offered racist merchandise.
Scalise, a politician who already had national aspirations at the time of the 2002 EURO conference, certainly should have known what his dalliance with open white supremacists might cost him. In 1998, a scandal erupted when it was revealed that U.S. Rep. Bob Barr (R-Georgia) and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had endorsed and spoken to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a major white supremacist hate group. In late 2002, after singing the praises of segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), Lott was forced to resign his leadership post.
Now Steve Scalise should do the same.
As Fury Mounts Over Obama Actions on Immigration, SPLC Releases Major Report on Nativist Movement Rebirth
Just a day after President Obama announced a series of executive actions meant to allow millions of undocumented residents to remain in the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center is releasing a major report on the apparent rebirth of the nativist extremist movement that swept the country between 2005 and 2011.
Today’s release of “Back to the Border,” the cover story of the new issue of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report, comes amid a rising din of anti-immigrant fury from both the mainstream and the radical right about Obama’s moves, unilateral actions that an array of enraged nativists claim could set political violence. The new report traces the resurgence of the movement to early July, when a furious mob turned back buses carrying undocumented and unaccompanied minor immigrants to a Border Patrol facility in Murrieta, Calif. The new edition of the quarterly investigative journal carrying the story can be read at www.splcenter.org.
The confrontation in Murrieta led to a series of similar nativist outbursts around the country and the massing of antigovernment militias and other radical groups on the U.S.-Mexican border in the months that followed. The movement grew large enough that it sparked worries about the return the Minuteman and other nativist groups that harassed undocumented immigrants in recent years. Now, with Obama’s Thursday night speech on immigration already setting off a renewed round of enraged attacks on the president, the threat of a major nativist resurgence seems strong.
“The success of a howling mob in turning back buses filled with undocumented immigrant children bound for a shelter was the first spark to reignite the nativist extremist movement,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the SPLC and author of the new report. “Now, with the new executive action initiative announced last night by President Obama, that spark may turn into a conflagration.’
This issue of the Intelligence Report also examines another radical movement experiencing a revival — the racist music industry. Racist bands are using iTunes, the world’s largest music vendor, to distribute their music following the collapse of several racist music labels and distributors. Although its terms of service appear to make iTunes off limits to these groups, the Report found that the music of at least 54 well-known racist bands was being sold by the music service this fall.
“The racist music industry, long a major source of money and new recruits for the white power movement, had been in decline in recent years,” Potok said. “But the discovery of iTunes by racist bands, and the fact that iTunes seems unwilling to move against them, has helped this industry find new hope and profits.”
Also in this issue of the Intelligence Report:
- “Warrior for God” profiles retired three-star general William “Jerry” Boykin, a longtime anti-Muslim activist now serving as executive vice president of the Family Research Council.
- “War Dreams” investigates how the neo-Confederate League of the South is forming a secret paramilitary unit called “The Indomitables,” another step in its continuing radicalization. The group now appears to include white supremacists, former Klan members and neo-Nazis.
- “East of Eden” examines how a small group of racists are promoting the Orthodox Church as a home for fascism. Although the church has its share of extreme-right officials, it vigorously rejects any association with such groups.
- “Redeemed” is an interview with Yvette Cantu Schneider, a woman who worked in religious-right “ex-gay” ministries for years, but recently joined other former activists in renouncing the movement.
Despite claiming its success this election cycle came from expunging extremists from its ranks, the GOP managed to let a fair number of candidates with extremist views rooted in conspiracy theories and far-right fears slip through the cracks.
“Little was left to chance,” The New York Times reported earlier this week. “Republican operatives sent fake campaign trackers — interns and staff members brandishing video cameras to record every utterance and move — to trail their own candidates. In media training sessions, candidates were forced to sit through a reel of the most self-destructive moments.”
But when all the ballots were counted, not even that was enough to stop the GOP from embracing candidates with fringe views, extremist connections and embarrassing backgrounds.
Consider Michael Peroutka, the onetime Constitutional Party presidential candidate and a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS). Peroutka, running as a Republican, was elected to the Ann Arundel County Council in Maryland, garnering 15,531 votes against Democratic candidate Patrick Armstrong’s 13,638.
Peroutka is an avid Southern secessionist and radical Christian Reconstructionist, as he made clear during his presidential campaign for the Constitution Party in 2004. He has long been an active figure in the LOS, serving on its board until recently. However, as the Capital Gazette in Annapolis noted, Peroutka campaigned almost entirely on local issues, emphasizing his desire to repeal the county’s storm water fees, dubbed by local critics as “the rain tax.”
Peroutka eventually renounced his LOS membership, telling reporters he had discovered that the organization held racist views “contrary to my beliefs.” In spite of that mea culpa, Peroutka has continued to share his extremist views in far-right media outlets. In one media appearance, Peroutka warned that the “gay deathstyle” was intent on recruiting the nation’s children. In another interview, he made clear that his extremist politics will color how he conducts county policy, proclaiming nondiscrimination laws a plot to replace God with government “idolatry.”
While it might be easy to say that Peroutka is alone on the Republic roster with his extremist ideology, there were many other candidates elected Tuesday with similar baggage.
- Joni Ernst, U.S. Senate, Iowa: Ernst has supported state nullification of federal laws, claimed the president is a “dictator” who should be impeached, and given credence to Agenda 21, a right-wing conspiracy theory that claims the United Nations is building a blueprint for the “New World Order” intent on taking away U.S. citizen’s land and possessions.
- Jody Hice, U.S. House of Representatives, Georgia, 10th District: The anti-Islam Hice (who is also a radio talk show host) has said that Muslims shouldn’t get First Amendment protections, has claimed that a satirical piece written in the 1980s is “proof” of a “gay agenda” and said in 2004 that it was okay for a woman to run for office as long as she’s “within the authority of her husband.” He also said on his radio show that “blood moons” are a sign of world-changing. Strangely, Hice’s radio shows have been scrubbed from the Internet.
- Gordon Klingenschmitt, Colorado state legislature, District 15: Best-known for his claims of casting demons out of LGBT people, Klingenschmitt heads up the anti-LGBT hate group The Pray in Jesus [sic] Name Project. He was court martialed by the Air Force in 2006 for disobeying an order. He has claimed that gay people sexually abuse their own children and they should be discriminated against because they’re not going to heaven and only people who go to heaven are entitled to equal treatment.
- Gary Glenn, Michigan state legislature, District 98: Glenn, the author of Michigan’s amendment banning marriage equality, is a former director of AFA-Michigan, an affiliate of the American Family Association, an anti-LGBT hate group. Glenn has expressed desire to recriminalize homosexuality, which he claims is a “proven threat to health and human safety.” He has expressed reservations about businesses hiring LGBT people because of the “severe medical consequences” of homosexuality, which indicates they’re “not the best and the brightest.”
Ryan Lenz, David Neiwert and Evelyn Schlatter contributed to this article.