League of the South Considers ‘Black Spring Break’ in Biloxi a Call to Arms
At the same time, perhaps surprisingly, LOS has steadily grown more powerful, to the point that it is now at the nexus of the neo-Confederate movement. It's ideas about the "Anglo-Celtic" nature of the South are now nearly universally accepted by pro-South groups, as are an array of other myths mainly propagated by LOS ideologues (see related interview, White Lies).
Hill and other LOS leaders have helped organize numerous Confederate flag rallies and similar events in the last two years, most notably taking a leadership role in a huge pro-flag rally in South Carolina last January. LOS also organized a large pro-flag rally in Montgomery, Ala., last March.
Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the Southern Legal Resource Center, whose "chief trial counsel" is white supremacist lawyer Kirk Lyons (see In the Lyons Den), joined Hill in Montgomery in signing a petition declaring "Southern Cultural Independence" from the rest of the nation.
The League also has been active in traditional politics. In 1996, it helped orchestrate a "Dump Beasley" campaign in South Carolina, where then-Gov. David Beasley, a moderate Republican, supported removing the Confederate flag from atop the state Capitol dome. When Beasley lost, the LOS claimed victory with bumper stickers reading, "We Booted Beasley."
It also attacked Jim Folsom Jr., Alabama's governor until 1995, for a similar reason. And now, the South Carolina chapter of the League is running a "No Votes for Turncoats" political action committee that is raising money to support politicians seen as pro-Confederate flag.
Other LOS efforts are educational — or propagandistic, depending on your point of view. LOS ideologues publish widely, both in their own periodicals and in others associated with the neo-Confederates.
And the League runs the Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History, an organization headed by Donald Livingston that offers seminars "dedicated to combating the demonisation of the South." It is supported by members' dues and an LOS foundation.
A Reporter of Their Own
LOS has not done as well with the mainstream press. Enduring a number of editorial attacks by Southern newspapers, it has loudly complained of what it terms the "scalawag" press — Southern newspapers that, in its view, have sold out to "Yankee" ideologies.
But the League has found a few staunch defenders in the major media, including syndicated columnist and LOS member Charley Reese.
And then there is Robert Stacy McCain. During the workday, McCain is a national reporter at The Washington Times. At other hours, he is an active League member — and a highly visible one, with several political essays featured on the LOS web site.
This high-profile partisanship did not prevent McCain's editors from allowing him to write a story highly critical of the Southern Poverty Law Center last May, even though the Center had long criticized LOS. After hearing the Center's initial complaint over this apparent conflict of interest, Washington Times national editor Ken Hanner did not return the Center's calls.
"[A]s a working journalist with over 10 years experience," McCain writes without irony in one of his LOS essays, an attack on the press for painting Confederate flag backers as racists, "I am well aware of how reporters can subtly frame their stories to suggest which side in any controversy is right."
'We Will Need a New Klan'
In retrospect, it is clear that LOS included hard-liners from the start. One LOS founding member who now sits on the board of directors is Jack Kershaw, who is also a member of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC).
As described in an earlier issue of the Intelligence Report (Winter 1999, No. 93), the CCC is directly descended from the White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s, racist groups known as the "uptown Klan" that fought against desegregation in the South.
And indeed, Kershaw's lineage goes back to one of those councils, the Citizens Council of Tennessee, of which he was executive secretary.
With the help of LOS, Kershaw recently erected in Nashville a huge statue of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest — a man who was also the Ku Klux Klan's first imperial wizard, a fact the LOS studiously avoids mentioning.
"Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery," Kershaw said in 1998. "Where in the world are the Negroes better off today than in America?"
The list goes on. Michael Andrew Grissom, a charter LOS member and one of its principal ideologues, is a national adviser to the CCC. Michael Masters, who organized the original Virginia chapter of the LOS, is the former Virginia state leader for the CCC and has published articles in the racist American Renaissance magazine.
David Cooksey, the charter LOS member who suggested that "we will NEED a new type of Klan," has been a key CCC official in Alabama. And Joseph Stumph, another founding LOS member, was earlier on the executive committee of the Constitutionalist Networking Center, a militia-related organization that, among other things, believed that constitutional rule in America has been suspended.
More recently, similar cases have come up. In 1998, Kirk Lyons, already well known in the neo-Confederate movement, joined LOS. Another example is Roger Busbice, special assistant to LOS' Louisiana state chairman and a board member of that state's CCC.
Busbice was director of the Young-Sanders Center for the Study of the War Between the States in Morgan City, La. But Busbice chose to shut down the Center rather than accede to a demand from Morgan City's mayor that he remove links from the Center's web site to the LOS and similar neo-Confederate groups.
Finally, there is Phil Beverly, the president of the Birmingham chapter of the League as well as the head of the Central Alabama CCC. Recently, he posted a Webster's definition of "racism" on the AlaReb list and then explained: "I fail to see why anyone would shrink from the application of the term... . All the evidence supports the above belief. Why should we be afraid of telling the truth?"
The many cross-memberships of which these cases are but a sample reflect the key role that the LOS has taken in the neo-Confederate movement of late (see Rebels With a Cause).
Just as Kirk Lyons' Southern Legal Resource Center in North Carolina has become the legal arm of the neo-Confederate movement, so has the LOS turned into the political engine providing the movement its energy. More and more, its politics are dominating formerly apolitical groups like the SCV.