The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
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.
The League of the South seems to know no limits in how far to the right it will go. After years of increasingly violent rhetoric and warnings of unrest, (LOS) President Michael Hill has now announced that the LOS will “make contact” with the neo-Nazi and neo-fascist Greek organization Golden Dawn, a group that associations with a year ago would have been certain to prohibit LOS membership.
In a cryptic message posted to Facebook last week, Hill promised: “We will establish contact with GD (Golden Dawn) very soon.” To what extent and to what end remain unclear.
Contacting Golden Dawn in a show of solidarity represents one more development in the League’s changing attitudes toward the more radical elements of the extremist right. From warning of impending insurrection, to forming secret paramilitary organizations, the League has gotten increasingly extreme in recent years. But aligning with the Golden Dawn does come as an unexpected surprise.
Since 2012, when the Golden Dawn claimed 18 of the Greek Parliament’s 300 seats, the party has embraced its fascist and neo-Nazi ideological underpinnings. They have made use of Nazi symbolism and have praised figures from Nazi Germany. Its members have taken xenophobic stances on immigration, and engaged in acts of violence.
That alone would have been enough for LOS leadership to distance itself from getting close to Golden Dawn not that long ago. In fact, Matthew Heimbach, co-founder of the white nationalist Traditionalist Youth Network, was ousted from the LOS after being caught cavorting with members of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi organization.
“Matthew Heimbach, a former member of The League of the South, has apparently decided to cast his lot with Nazis and others who do not represent the traditional South, the Southern Nationalist movement, and the League of the South,” Hill wrote at the time.
A short year later, Heimbach is back in the LOS and sharing the same views as Hill.
For his part, Heimbach last week traveled to New York City to show his support for the Golden Dawn as they held a meeting in Astoria, a historically Greek-American neighborhood. The conference featured Georgios Epitideios, a former general and Golden Dawn member of the European Parliament, who warned of the struggles the Greek people face “as the forces of globalism continue to wage an economic, social, and spiritual war against the Greek nation and the Greek Church.”
Just like Hill has professed, Heimbach left the event with new views.
“I have long been a Golden Dawn supporter, and this weekend of fellowship only reinforced what I already knew in my heart,” Heimbach wrote. “All traditionalists should support Golden Dawn.”
After years of rhetoric threatening violence, the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS) is training a uniformed, paramilitary unit tasked with advancing a second southern secession by any means necessary, Hatewatch has learned.
According to anonymous sources from within the LOS, as well as leaked internal communications, the LOS secret unit has been dubbed “The Indomitables”and appears to be stacked with white supremacists, former Klan members and neo-Nazis.
Michael Hill, in a note offered to encourage his Indomitables, said, “We desire that our women and children be warm and snug while the world outside rages. And as our due for that we must face the world.”
The Indomitables were conceptualized at the LOS national meeting earlier this year and appear to be coming online quickly, with Floyd Eric Meadows, 43, of Rome, Ga., who also goes by Eric Thorvaldsson online, in charge of “training,” according to sources within the group and internal documents.
A veteran of both the U.S. Army and Navy with 12 years of service, Meadows has been an active LOS member for several years, and his personal Facebook account is filled with pagan iconography and photos of his weapons. He posts often about “earning” his red bootlaces––awarded in skinhead culture for drawing blood for ‘the movement’—and his desire to throw boot parties for enemies of the LOS. Meadows also has posted pictures of himself standing with assault rifles in front of a confederate flag and has frequently quoted Robert Barnwell Rhett, a South Carolina statesman who was dubbed the “Father of Secession”for his efforts leading up to the Civil War.
Telephone messages regarding the Indomitables were left with Hill and the LOS this week, specifically to ask how and where the League hopes to use the unit, and to what end. They were not returned. But within a day of those message being left, Hill addressed the question on the LOS blog.
“Even if we are –– and you really have no idea on earth if we are or not ––setting up a Southern militia or some other form of paramilitary organization, we are doing nothing that free men have not done for centuries. Deal with it and stop your whining,”Hill wrote.
Unfortunately for Hill, we do have an idea. Internal Facebook posts leaked to Hatewatch show that Hill is well aware of progress in forming his militia, which he refers to by name.
The formation of the Indomitables comes after years of escalating and violent rhetoric from the League, as well as a search for more ideologically extreme white nationalists to enliven their membership –– a pattern that has been ongoing since 2007, when the LOS national conference was titled “Southern Secession: Antidote to Empire and Tyranny.” Just this week, for example, blogger Spelunker published a detailed profile of LOS member Abe Monroe, who attended a rally with LOSers last November and who just posted to Facebook pictures of the words “White Power”in block letters tattooed with a swastika across his back. While Monroe is a minor player, he is representative of that new type of southern nationalist the League now seeks.
That is especially true if one takes to heart Hill’s own words, which show an increasing extremism. In an essay published last month on the LOS website, Hill argued that the Second Amendment extends to “weapons systems,” touted guerrilla warfare applications and listed “primary targets”as the fight for a second secession continues.
“The primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run,”Hill wrote. He concluded the essay by quoting Psalms: “Blessed be the Lord my strength who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight.”
This isn’t the first time the League has flirted with southern nationalists with a calloused trigger finger, however. Michael Tubbs, a former Green Beret and demolitions expert, and another soldier robbed two fellow soldiers of their M-16 rifles at Fort Bragg, N.C. “This is for the KKK,”the holdup men shouted as they fled. Tubbs pleaded guilty to theft of government property and conspiracy to transport guns and explosives across state lines after prosecutors later discovered a weapons cache.
Editors’ Note –– Keegan Hankes contributed to the reporting of this article.
The neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS) gathered outside the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery today to protest same-sex marriage today, a departure from the group’s racist activism surrounding Southern heritage.
At the heart of the protest was an SPLC lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, which seeks to overturn the state’s 1998 Marriage Protection Act, which bans the recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. The suit also seeks to overturn the 2005 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, which enshrined the ban.
The League, a neo-Confederate hate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans,” seemed to use the protest to branch out into more mainstream conservative issues.
“We’re protesting the Southern Poverty Law Center’s stand against the state of Alabama and its position on homosexual marriage,” Dr. Michael Hill, president of the League, told Hatewatch. “We’re here as much to support the concept of Christian marriage and the family as we are to protest anything.”
And so they protested, not with screams and chants, but with a dull murmur.
League members held signs that said “God Sanctions Marriage. SPLC Should Not,” and “Support Christian Marriage,” along with Alabama state flags and Christian Confederate flags. They milled about, quietly, caught up with friends and talked about ideas such as what the South would use as its currency when it does secede. This protest was lackluster compared to previous gatherings, and not as comical.
In 2004, about 50 demonstrators in town for a national League meeting brandished Confederate and southern state flags outside the SPLC. On a street corner, League supporters placed a pink toilet with an adjacent sign read, “Flush the SPLC.” There were none of those antics today, not even from the younger leaders who have argued that street protests like the one today are the future of the movement.
Brad Griffin, a League member and editor of the Occidental Dissent blog, who writes under the nom de plume “Hunter Wallace,” has been instrumental in shifting the LOS toward more frequent protests. In a piece titled “The Logic of Street Demonstrations” published last month to Occidental Dissent blog, Griffin expounded on the need to use public protests to address the “taboo” of being pro-white, pro-South and pro Christian.
“By taking to the streets on a regular basis, we are demonstrating that we are no longer going to observe these taboos or acknowledge their legitimacy in the South. We believe our cause is moral and just, that our demographic displacement is an immoral assault on the birthright of future generations, and we invite our fellow Southerners to publicly violate the reigning taboos and join our movement,” Griffin wrote.
But even in the former cradle of the Confederacy, the public involvement with the League was lacking. The only engagement came from a group of young girls, standing in front of the Civil Rights Memorial, singing negro spirituals. And just as they had been all morning, the proud and graying League protestors were silent in response.
You will know the League of the South’s street demonstrators by their flags – a variety of Confederate flags, yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” Gadsden flags and stark, black-and-white so-called Southern Nationalist flags. If the league’s organizers see their hopes realized, such demonstrators will be a common sight on city streets and plazas in the South.
The league’s leaders have developed a street demonstration strategy they hope will increase their public profile in the coming months. At a state conference in Alabama last month, they unveiled some of the details of that program, including a protest of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery in May.
The Alabama gathering, held at the league’s meeting hall in Wetumpka, near Montgomery, featured speeches by president Michael Hill, Georgia chapter chairman Ed Wolfe, South Carolina chapter chairman Michael Cushman and Brad Griffin, editor of the Occidental Dissent blog, who writes under the nom de plume “Hunter Wallace”. Griffin recently wrote about the league’s strategic shift in a post titled, “The Logic of Street Demonstrations.”
The shift appears to be primarily Hill’s idea, as he made clear in his opening remarks, and seems to be connected to the increasingly belligerent and radical positions he has staked out in recent years –symbolized by his exchange with a black reporter in Tallahassee earlier this year. Upon being asked if he minded if the league was depicted as a “bunch of racists”, Hill responded: “So what? I’m standing up for my people – white Southern people – no one else.”
Several of the conference speakers celebrated Hill’s response, including Griffin, who added: “We’re standing up for our people. It is the right thing to do, it is what we ought to do. We should have started doing it a long time ago. The fear of sticking our necks out has long been one of our worst enemies, and that more than anything has to be overcome before we can gather the numbers to move forth.”
Griffin and the other speakers argued that street demonstrations will provide people with a clearer view of their choices. They presented a disparaging view of counter-protesters, typically describing them, as Griffin did in a recent post, as “a bunch of queers and lesbians gyrating on a sidewalk with tambourine.”
Cushman celebrated the shift toward unapologetic racism by observing that the league was “smashing that taboo”: “We’re supposed to be embarrassed to talk about race. We’re supposed to turn red in the face and kind of turn away and whisper if we say anything at all about race. We’re smashing that taboo as well.” ( continue to full post… )
After a segregationist businessman’s products were dropped from major grocery chains over his promotion of slavery, South Carolina Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell – who was recently selected to head the College of Charleston – went out of his way to sell the man’s products.
Maurice Bessinger, an unrepentant segregationist who ran the Piggie Park chain of barbecue restaurants in South Carolina, sparked a controversy in 2000 when he began flying the Confederate flag over his restaurants – a reaction to the state government removing the flag from the capitol dome. Soon it was discovered that Bessinger was selling pro-slavery materials at his restaurants, including a pamphlet entitled “The Biblical Justification for Slavery.”
Bessinger, who wore a white suit and appeared atop a white horse in promotional materials, had made a name for himself during the Civil Rights era for refusing to integrate his restaurants and leading the National Association for the Preservation of White People. He posted signs at his stores telling African Americans they were not welcome. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually forced him to integrate and his restaurants went back to, more or less, business as usual.
By 2000, South Carolina had changed, but Bessinger hadn’t. According to The State, Bessinger was “distributing pro-slavery audiotapes and gave customers a discount if they bought his literature.” He claimed that slavery in South Carolina was “biblical slavery,” which he argued was more ethical than other forms.
Customers began boycotting his restaurants, and the NAACP and other organizations called on major grocery chains to drop his products – one after another, they did. Bessinger wrote in his 2001 memoir, “Defending My Heritage,” that six major grocery chains, including Walmart, had dropped his products by the end of 2000, and wholesale sales were down 98%.
When you read his memoir, it’s not hard to understand why. Here are a few choice quotes:
“I have concluded that the civil rights movement is a Satanic attempt to make it easier for a global elite…to seize power in the country.”
“The Civil Rights Act of 1964…destroyed property rights and le[d] to blacks being given special favors by government at the expense of whites.”
“It is politically correct to assume that segregation is evil” but the “facts about the Old South don’t bear out this assumption.”
Bessinger also wrote that “Lest you think all has been bad, I have loyal supporters who have stuck with me through this battle.” “There are people,” Bessinger wrote, “who are driving miles, seeking out independent grocery stores…where they can find my products.” One of those places was Glenn McConnell’s Confederate memorabilia shop, which he ran with his brother for 20 years until 2009.
I wrote last week that McConnell came to the defense of Bessinger in 2002 when South Carolina electric and gas giant SCANA banned its employees from parking company trucks at Piggie Park restaurants. Then-State Sen. McConnell “threatened a legislative vendetta” against the company – i.e. revoking its “noncompetitive, monopoly status” – if it didn’t reverse course. He denounced SCANA’s policy as a “basic slap at free speech and freedom of expression” and accused the company of “discriminating against a man’s business because of his political beliefs.” He said that “people around the state are just outraged at the audacity” of SCANA, but he apparently wasn’t outraged by Bessinger and didn’t seem to understand why others were.
As it turns out, McConnell did even more for Bessinger. He not only defended the segregationist against a boycott on First Amendment grounds – he became a distributor of his products. ( continue to full post… )
Yesterday, we explored the neo-Confederate record of South Carolina Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, who was recently selected to be the next president of the College of Charleston. As I noted, McConnell has made promotion of Confederate history and culture a hallmark of his three decades in public office.
That helps explain how, in 2007, then-State Sen. McConnell came to appear on a notorious white nationalist radio program – the Political Cesspool – that hosts the likes of David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. According to the program notes, McConnell appeared during Confederate History Month to discuss the “legacy of the crew of the C.S.S. Hunley submarine as well as the flying of the Confederate Flag on the grounds of the state capitol.” He was described as “very much pro-South.”
The Political Cesspool, hosted by James Edwards, declares in its “mission statement” that it represents “a philosophy that is pro-White” and aims to “revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility and beyond to grow the percentage of Whites in the world relative to other races.” On the same page, you’ll find an endorsement from Bob Whitaker, a segregationist radio show host, who praises Edwards for giving voice to the “legitimate complaints that gentiles have and our fear of the genocide of immigration and intermarriage.”
The program has hosted a who’s who of white nationalists, racists, anti-Semites and far-right figures. Edwards believes that “Secession is a right of all people and individuals” and uses his show to honor “those who tried to make it successful from 1861 – 1865.” As part of that effort to “honor” Confederate veterans, Edwards brought McConnell on during Confederate History Month.
McConnell told the Charleston Post and Courier yesterday that the only people still debating the Confederate flag at the South Carolina capitol are extremists on both sides. “I’m not going to go back and open up old wounds,” he said. Yet there he was in 2007 attacking the NAACP over the flag issue on a white nationalist radio show.
McConnell, asked by Edwards to lay out the history of the flag debate, said the state hoisted the Confederate flag to mark the centennial of the Civil War. “Nobody had a problem with it until all of a sudden, I believe it was in the 1980s, the NAACP discovered that they were offended by it,” he said. “In the year of 2001, we agreed to remove the flag from the top of the capitol.”
McConnell said they “had biracial and bipartisan support for that, and everybody was happy, but the NAACP.” “Now they come back and they argue they want it taken off the grounds because it’s Confederate.” “For all fair-minded people the controversy was resolved long ago.”
But McConnell said the NAACP was “returning to the trough of controversy, they’re trying to feed on passions, they’re appealing to prejudice and they’re trying to inflame constituents and citizens across our state.” “What’s sad about that is that irresponsible grandstanding threatens to unravel the fabric of mutual respect and to divide our state for decades to come.”
Well, isn’t that rich. There’s nothing like going on a white nationalist program called the Political Cesspool to nurture the “fabric of mutual respect” and attack the NAACP for “fanning the flames of intolerance.”
Glenn McConnell was selected last Saturday to be the next president of the College of Charleston. McConnell is South Carolina’s current Lieutenant Governor and a veteran of the South Carolina State Senate, where he served from 1981 until 2012. He’s also an avid Civil War reenactor, an active member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the former proprietor of a Confederate memorabilia shop.
McConnell’s interest in and promotion of Confederate history and culture have been a hallmark of his three decades in public office – and a steady source of controversy. This history is at the core of the opposition to his appointment among College of Charleston students and faculty.
McConnell made headlines in 2010 when he was photographed in a Confederate uniform posing with two African Americans portraying slaves. And in 2002, McConnell, then one of the most influential figures in state government, came to the defense of racist barbecue baron Maurice Bessinger, owner of the Piggie Park chain.
Bessinger was under siege for displaying the Confederate flag and selling racist tracts at his restaurants, including a pamphlet entitled “The Biblical Justification for Slavery.” When South Carolina’s only Fortune 500 company, electric and gas giant SCANA, banned employees from parking company trucks at Piggie Park restaurants, McConnell “threatened a legislative vendetta” against the company if it didn’t reverse course. He called SCANA’s actions a “basic slap at free speech and freedom of expression” and accused the company of “discriminating against a man’s business because of his political beliefs.” (Be sure to check out this old Daily Show clip featuring South Carolina-native Stephen Colbert interviewing both McConnell and Bessinger.)
McConnell established himself as a defender of the Confederacy in 1996 when South Carolina’s Republican governor, David Beasley, proposed removing the Confederate flag from the capitol dome. McConnell denounced the proposal as “cultural genocide” and compared the governor to Neville Chamberlain for making peace with “militants” – in this case, not the Nazis, but the NAACP. Beasley’s proposal failed and he lost his next election, due in part to anger over his proposal. The flag debate went on. ( continue to full post… )
Forty-three years after it was integrated by court order, Nathan Bedford Forrest High School in Jacksonville, Fla., will drop the name of the Confederate general who ran an infamous antebellum slaveyard, presided over the massacre of surrendering black Yankee troops, and was the first national leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
It was a long time coming.
Initial efforts to change the name of the school, whose student body is now 61% black, were made in the early 1990s but failed. A second attempt, led by local sociology professor Lance Stoll and a few of his students, also failed in 2007, even though Stoll surveyed the local community and jumped through a series of hoops imposed by the school board. The board defied its own policies then, with members voting 5-2 along racial lines to keep the name of the infamous Confederate. ( continue to full post… )
At 22, Matthew Heimbach is a rising white nationalist star, just as eager to get into bed with graying Southern secessionists as he is with steel-toe-boot-wearing neo-Nazis.
Over the past few months, he has rallied with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan at the invitation of Thom Robb, a Christian Identity pastor who leads the group and for whom Heimbach claims to have “great respect.” He has stood side by side with the Aryan Terror Brigade, and he plans to attend a rally this weekend with the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM) in Kansas City on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi pogrom that left more than 90 Jews dead and some 30,000 imprisoned in concentration camps.
It has been a meteoric rise for someone so young, the likes of which have not really been seen since the anti-Semite David Duke appeared on the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, dressed as a neo-Nazi and railing against the “Zionist Occupied Government.”
In fact, Heimbach’s profile on the radical right has risen so quickly that rumors have spread across online forums that he is privately working as a federal informant, or even as an agent of Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency. None of that is true, Heimbach says with a wry grin. But what he is more than willing to admit is that in the years since forming the controversial White Student Union at Towson University in Maryland, where he graduated this year with a degree in history, he been thoroughly radicalized. ( continue to full post… )