Vermont Separatist Criticizes Racist Allies

Secessionist Movements

Reversing a longstanding refusal to criticize his Southern secessionist allies, Thomas Naylor, leader of the "progressive" separatists of the Second Vermont Republic (SVR), called on the League of the South this July to denounce racism.

Naylor and fellow separatist Kirkpatrick Sale, a longtime leftist who heads the New York-based Middlebury Institute, had long resisted pressure from others in the movement and outside critics to denounce the league, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a white supremacist hate group. League chief Michael Hill has repeatedly called for a return to "general European hegemony" in the South, denounced interracial marriage, and described slavery as "God-ordained."

But in the days after the Intelligence Report published an in-depth account of SVR's relationship with the league — the two groups have warmly cooperated in a number of meetings and conferences — Naylor changed his tune. His comments followed almost immediately an interview on Vermont Public Radio with Heidi Beirich, the Report staffer who wrote the account. Naylor had declined a VPR interview.

"So long as the albatross of racism hangs around its neck, the LOS can never be a truly effective partner for SVR," Naylor wrote in July. He also suggested that the league renounce racism, recruit black members, bring in black speakers and promote Southern racial unity. "The Confederate flag," he added, "has got to go!"

That was a far cry from the Naylor of just a few months earlier. Naylor told the Report for Beirich's story that the league was "not racist," adding that he didn't "give a shit" what the Report wrote. He appeared twice on a Tennessee-based radio program called "The Political Cesspool," a white supremacist show that specializes in interviewing neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Holocaust deniers and the like. When the Report first published its story, Naylor described it as an attack by "the well-financed, hate-mongering, witch-hunting, left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center."