Mike Hill represents the intellectual but racist faction of the neo-Confederate movement. Ironically a professor for years at a historically black college, Hill established the League of the South in 1994 as an institution devoted to reviving Southern heritage and pushing for secession. As Hill spurred the group to become increasingly racist and militant in the late 1990s, most of the academics who joined in 1994 fled as racial extremists took their place in a much diminished institution.`
In His Own Words
"The destruction of states rights in the South was the first necessity leading to forced policies undermining the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic people and its institutions. [Arch-segregationist Alabama Gov. George] Wallace rightly identified the enemy and fought it until the attempt on his life in 1972."
— Southern Patriot, 1998
"[T]he evil genie of universal ‘human rights,' once loosed from its bottle, can never be restrained because rights for women, racial and ethnic minorities, homosexuals, pedophiles, etc., can be manufactured easily."
— Essay posted to Dixienet.org, 1999
"In part, [the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks] spring from an ‘open borders' policy that has for the past four decades encouraged massive Third World immigration and thus cultural destabilization. Hence, these acts of violence were also the natural fruits of a regime committed to multiculturalism and diversity, hallmarks of empire rather than of nation. … [T]his is America's wake-up call to forsake its idolatry and to return to its true Christian and Constitutional foundations."
— Essay posted to Dixienet.org, 2001
"If the scenario of the South (and the rest of America) being overrun by hordes of non-white immigrants does not appeal to you, then how is this disaster to be averted? By the people who oppose it rising up against their traitorous elite masters and their misanthropic rule. But to do this we must first rid ourselves of the fear of being called ‘racists' and the other meaningless epithets they use against us. What is really meant by the [multiculturalism] advocates when they peg us as ‘racists' is that we adhere to ethnocentrism, which is a natural affection for one's own kind. This is both healthy and Biblical. I am not ashamed to say that I prefer my own kind and my own culture. Others can have theirs; I have mine. No group can survive for long if its members do not prefer their own over others."
— Essay posted to Conservativetimes.org, 2007
Sporting a white beard intended to give him the look of a Confederate Army officer, native Alabamian J. Michael Hill has done more than anyone to create a new, racially tinged Southern secession movement. Ironically, Hill taught British history for decades as he developed his thinking about the nature and religion of the South at historically black Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Hill was always an oddity at the school, roaming the campus wearing a Confederate flag pin and waxing nostalgic to his mostly black students about the "War Between the States." In 1996, Hill told columnist Diane Roberts that his black students adored him; what he didn't say was that he apparently did not share their warmth. In a 2000 posting to the invitation-only AlaReb E-mail list, Hill mocked his former students and co-workers. "A quote," he wrote, "from a recent affirmative action hire: ‘Yesta-day I could not spell ‘secretary.' Today I is one.'" He continued: "One of few benefits I got on a regular basis from having taught for 18 years at Stillman College was reading the class rolls on the first day of class." He went on to list several "humorous" names of his black students, ending, "Where do these people get such names?" Hill resigned from Stillman in 1998. Although school officials never said so publicly, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported that Hill had become "an embarrassment" to the administration.
Hill began to develop his ideas about a new Confederacy in the 1970s, while studying under Grady McWhiney and Forrest McDonald, two extremely conservative history professors at the University of Alabama. His mentors wrote Cracker Culture, a book that argued that the South was settled primarily by "Anglo-Celts" while in the North it was British Protestants who predominated.
Expanding on his old professors' controversial claim that the South was different from the North because its population was "Celtic," Hill published two books on Celtic history in the early 1990s. In 1994, he became an activist and put his ideas into practice, creating the Southern League, which was later renamed the League of the South (the original name was a takeoff on the separatist and anti-immigrant Northern League of Italy, but had to be changed after a baseball league of the same name threatened to sue). The League envisioned a seceded South that would be run, basically, as a theocratic state marked by medieval legal distinctions between different types of citizens, with white males at the top of the hierarchy.
Started with 40 people, the League initially included four men with Ph.D.s on its board, along with Jack Kershaw, who was once active in the segregationist White Citizens Council in Nashville and who remained on the board as late as 2009.
Hill's League started out complaining about the media treatment of white Southerners but quickly developed into a racist group calling for secession, attacking egalitarianism, calling antebellum slavery "God-ordained," opposing racial intermarriage, and defending segregation as a policy designed to protect the "integrity" of both the black and the white races.
An early sign of the League's underlying racism came in 1995, when Hill set up a student chapter at his alma mater, the University of Alabama. Within months, its members began to verbally attack gays, and chapter president Thomas Stedman wrote to the student newspaper to claim that "blacks did not invent ... anything of note anywhere in the world." Hill also praised extremists like the Holocaust-denying and immigrant-bashing Jean-Marie Le Pen of France, calling for "others like Le Pen to arise." The "ravages of multiculturalism and so-called diversity," Hill said, are anathema to him. Hill described the Pledge of Allegiance as "nationalist propaganda [meant] to indoctrinate" children with socialist ideas about government.
In 2003, Hill led an attempt to resuscitate the Southern Party, another neo-Confederate organization. And he attacked the Supreme Court after its ruling in July of that year striking down anti-gay sodomy laws, saying the court was helping to advance what he called the "sodomite and civil rights agendas."
In 1998, just after he left Stillman, Hill claimed that the League had some 15,000 members. In 2000, the Southern Poverty Law Center added the League to its list of hate groups based on the organization's white supremacist ideology. Four years later, Hill's former mentor, Forrest McDonald, who had attended the first meeting of the League in 1994, denounced him, telling the Intelligence Report that Hill's racism had destroyed the group. By 2009, the League of the South could only draw a handful of participants to its events, and its publications were produced sporadically.
But as Hill saw his academic support flee and his organization’s membership dwindle, his rhetoric grew more extreme, his racism more explicit. The Civil War, he says, wasn’t about slavery. It was the imposition by godless Yankees of a materialistic, capitalist industrial system on a South embodying the only surviving remnant of “orthodox Christianity.” He decried the “evil genie of universal ‘human rights,’” and called egalitarianism a noxious “Jacobin” doctrine. America’s traitorous “elite masters,” he complained, have allowed it to be “overrun by hordes of non-white immigrants.”
In a 2012 essay, he claimed that white people are endowed with a “God-ordained superiority.” Whites of “honor, genius and principle” left us with a “glorious heritage,” while black people “have never created anything approximating a civilization.” Slavery, he wrote, was “successfully defended from a Biblical standpoint” until “the institution’s legitimacy was systematically undermined in the name of ‘equality’ and misappropriated ‘Christian ethics.’” He also waxed nostalgic for the Jim Crow system of racial oppression.
Particularly alarming was Hill’s growing penchant for inciting his remaining followers to violence. At a March 2011 League meeting in Georgia, he urged members to stock up on AK-47s, hollow-point bullets and tools to derail trains. That summer, at the League’s annual conference, the leader asked, “What would it take to get you to fight? The mantra [that] violence, or the serious threat thereof, never settles anything is patently false. History shows that it indeed does settle many things.”
This increasingly vocal militancy brought the League’s ideology and goals closer and closer to those of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement. In a January 2012 E-mail, Hill declared the federal government an “organized criminal enterprise” led by “domestic terrorists,” and told his followers to prepare for a fight.
Hill even took ideas straight from the playbook of the Posse Comitatus, a racist, anti-Semitic group that raged through the Midwest in the late 1970s and 1980s. A precursor to the modern “sovereign citizens” movement, Posse Comitatus adherents believed that sheriffs were the only legal law enforcers in the country. In addition to self-defense, Hill advised his followers to use their county sheriffs “as bulwarks against the criminal class. … He can lawfully tell the feds to ‘Go to Hell’ and stay out of his territory.”