League of the South Considers ‘Black Spring Break’ in Biloxi a Call to Arms
After as many as 30,000 revelers descended on Biloxi, Miss., for last April's "Black Spring Break 2000," many locals, offended by incidents of public nudity and angered by two cases in which white women were partially stripped by drunken men, called for more police, better traffic control and improved planning. Others criticized police for losing control and for not making more arrests.
But J. Michael Hill went further.
To the founder and president of the League of the South (LOS), the 6-year-old organization that has emerged at the forefront of the neo-Confederate movement, the incidents in Biloxi — along with similar attacks on white women in New York City's Central Park by black and Hispanic men — represented a call to arms.
The assaults, he suggested, were not merely the handiwork of individuals. All minorities, in Hill's view, were responsible.
"It is time for us, as Southern whites, to look to our own well being and defense against these thugs," the one-time college professor wrote on AlaReb, an invitation-only, neo-Confederate discussion group on the Internet.
"Moreover, it is time we demand that respectable members of the 'minority community' control their debased 'brothers and sisters.' If they refuse, then we can only believe that they secretly condone such behavior. Let us not flinch when our enemies call us 'racists'; rather, just reply with, 'So, what's your point?'"
Hill, of course, has never suggested that whites control the actions of their "debased brothers and sisters," whites who kill, maim and harass blacks and other minorities. He has offered no lectures about the white mobs that attacked blacks during the civil rights era — on the contrary, he has spoken of the era as a halcyon time in Southern history.
He has never spoken out about the criminals who have randomly murdered black people over the last few years in the name of building a whiter America. And he was silent when a white mob in York, Neb., attacked the home of a white woman dating a black man in 1998.
Instead, Hill has concentrated his fire on the minorities he is certain are destroying America.
Hill is no aberration in the LOS, a group that has grown to include 9,000 people organized into 96 chapters in 20 states. Despite the group's claims that it will brook no racists, the League is rife with white supremacists and racist ideology.
One key LOS figure and old Hill colleague, a man who is the former head of the LOS chapter in Tuscaloosa (Ala.) County where the League got its start, was even blunter than his leader in his own AlaReb posting about black-on-white crime.
"You see the day is coming when we will NEED a new type of Klan," G. David Cooksey wrote after the Central Park incidents in June. "Yes I said Klan!! If push comes to shove I'm for it! ... Time has come to stop this crap now!
"Or would you all like to see your daughters raped???"
Academics Set the Tone
The League of the South, first known as the Southern League, was founded in 1994 by Hill and a group of 40 other people. At first, the LOS appeared to be concerned primarily with questions of Southern culture, threatening to push for secession, at least rhetorically, as a final resort if what were seen as the rights and dignity of the South were not respected.
It keyed in on the notion that Southerners alone among U.S. population groups were commonly denigrated by the "politically correct" dominant culture, seen as emanating from the Yankee North.
And it pushed the idea of the South as fundamentally Christian, calling, in effect, for imposition of a theocracy — a government in which prayers and other religious observances would be common, and mandatory, in public life.
From the start, LOS has been dominated by academics. The current board of directors, for instance, includes four founding members with Ph.D.s.
Hill and Grady McWhiney are both specialists in Celtic history; in fact, McWhiney's book Cracker Culture, which asserts that the South was populated by immigrants from Celtic areas of England and constitutes a culture and population distinct from that of the North, has become a neo-Confederate Bible.
The others are Clyde Wilson, editor of the John C. Calhoun papers at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and Thomas Fleming, president of the archconservative Rockford Institute. Both men write prolifically on neo-Confederate themes.
Almost immediately, the League began to take off, growing in the first few years, Hill has said, "like kudzu." Within four years of its creation in 1994, LOS had recruited 4,000 members.
By 2000, two years later, that number had more than doubled to approximately 9,000 members. LOS's academic veneer, coupled with its insistence that it was not racist despite its keen interest in matters like the Confederate battle flag, helped draw in thousands who might otherwise have stayed away.
It didn't hurt that Hill was then a history professor at historically black Stillman College in Tuscaloosa. (He has since left that job.)
Taking the Fight to the 'Enemy'
But hints of its future radicalism — the raw anger LOS now openly directs at blacks and other minorities — were evident early on. In 1995, Hill joined a crowd of angry whites, including some professional white supremacists, at the funeral of Michael Westerman, a white murdered by a black youth, ostensibly for flying the Confederate pennant on his pickup truck.
Hill, according to the book Confederates in the Attic, declared it was "open season" on anyone who dared to question "the illicit rights bestowed on a compliant and deadly underclass that now fulfills a role similar to that of Hitler's brown-shirted street thugs of the 1930s."
He was referring to black people.
Since then, the tone of the League has grown consistently more hard line. Its ideologues now openly reject the notion of egalitarianism, opting instead for the idea that society is composed of a God-given hierarchy of groups that should not necessarily have the same rights and privileges as one another. Hill now publicly decries racial intermarriage under any circumstances.
He says people other than white Christians would be allowed to live in his South, but only if they bow to "the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic people and their institutions." Where the goal of secession was once largely rhetorical, it is now a seriously stated aim.
And, in a June posting on AlaReb, Hill called slavery a "God-ordained" institution.
This radicalization is also reflected in an e-mail signed by Hill last April, right after the events in Biloxi. 'WE MUST NOT WAIT AND REACT TO THE ENEMY," Hill wrote. "Let us be bold and take the fight to him. He (the NAACP, Chamber of Commerce, and most elected officials) is well funded and determined to wipe out any vestige of Confederate heritage and culture. ...
"We must not compromise with evil."