Sons of Confederate Veterans Leader Ron Wilson Faces Controversy

A top official of a Southern heritage group decided to get even with a writer he didn't like. But then he began to boast

From the very beginning, a core mission of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) heritage group has been to defend what are seen as the intrinsic values of Southern culture, and especially Southern manhood. Former Confederate Lt. Gen. Stephen Dill Lee, setting out the goals of the SCV in 1906, directly invoked the chivalric virtues so loved by the South:

To you, Sons of Confederate Veterans ... will be given the defense of the Confederate soldier's good name, the guardianship of his history, the emulation of his values.

Even the preamble to the SCV's 1896 constitution celebrates the South's "glorious heritage of valor, chivalry and honor."

Today, that much-vaunted Southern chivalry is taking a beating.

Engaged in a vicious internal war with SCV moderates who say their organization is becoming a home for racists, the extremist SCV leadership headed by Commander-in-Chief Ron Wilson has been accused by the moderates of a series of disreputable moves.

Opponents say Wilson has attempted several end runs around the SCV constitution as he seeks to crush the power of the moderates. Some 300 Wilson enemies have been suspended, and one key leader was suspended a second time after Wilson was repudiated in a tied executive council vote.

Racist jokes and appellations like "faggot" have flown fast and furious. Many in the extremist faction have done what they could to tarnish the reputations of their enemies.

But one particularly unpleasant attack may come to symbolize the unsavory depths that this internal civil war is now plumbing. It involves an Intelligence Report writer, a top SCV official, and the entire SCV General Executive Council.

And its contents would make a sailor blush.

Researching the SCV
On Sept. 28, 2002, Report writer Heidi Beirich, who has done most of the reporting for a series of articles on the civil war within the SCV, wrote an E-mail meant for SCV Executive Director Ben Sewell.

The E-mail mentioned the refusal of several SCV chapters and officials to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag (as opposed to the Confederate battle flag), and asked for Sewell's comment.

Beirich's E-mail was misaddressed and went to John Walker Adams, the SCV's adjutant-in-chief, whose duties included running its Tennessee headquarters, maintaining all its records, and issuing orders to carry out directives of the group's commander in chief.

Adams, who runs the SCV's Web site and oversaw the official SCV Dispatch E-newsletter until it was shut down this September, was appointed to his position, which includes executive board membership, by Wilson. A resident of Deltona, Fla., Adams is also the commander of the Florida SCV division.

Adams, 47, forwarded the message to Sewell, along with a note calling Beirich a "twit" because she had the wrong address for Sewell. Adams also sent copies of his forward to all other members of the SCV executive council.

On Oct. 23, 2002, Beirich sent another E-mail to the executive council and members of the SCV's Heritage Defense and Media/Public Relations committees, including Adams. She asked for comment about a series of racist statements that had appeared in the prior year on the unofficial SCV Echo E-newsletter run by Allen Sullivant. Sullivant is the SCV's chief of heritage defense, appointed by Wilson.

The next day, Beirich arrived at the Montgomery, Ala., offices of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publishes the Intelligence Report, to find her E-mail flooded with some of the most extreme examples of hard-core pornography extant, including scenes of bestiality.

In the days that followed, she received illustrated offers of subscriptions to such services as BlackXXXMag, Strap-On Teens, Latina Cherry, Kinky Porn, Cybererotica, Hustler Mail and many others.

"It was really quite incredible," Beirich said. "I had never seen anything like most of it." Report staffers had their suspicions about where the pornography had come from. But nothing was said publicly about the episode. There was no proof.