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New York Times Feature on Sale Left Out a Fact or Two

Peter Applebome of The New York Times wrote a feature the other day on an interesting topic — the Second North American Secessionist Convention, held early this month in Chattanooga, Tenn., and attended by members of local secessionist movements from Hawaii to Vermont to Alabama. The piece centered on Kirkpatrick Sale, a well-known leftist intellectual who is the director of something called the Middlebury Institute, a New York-based group dedicated to secessionism.

Trouble is, Applebome missed a few key facts.

The Oct. 18 Times article is essentially a pillow-soft feature that paints a picture of Sale as a father figure to the somewhat goofy but nevertheless endearing secessionists. It quotes Sale saying that the movement has “brought right and left together” and mentions the participation of the League of the South (LOS), a neo-Confederate group in favor of Southern secession. But that’s where the enlightenment stops.

What Applebome never says is that Sale arranged a co-sponsoring agreement for the Oct. 3-4 convention with the League of the South. He doesn’t note that most people familiar with LOS consider Sale’s new partner a white supremacist hate group — its leader, who calls for a return to “European cultural hegemony” in the South, has described slavery as “God-ordained” and vigorously opposes interracial marriage, and other LOS intellectuals have defended segregation as protecting the “integrity” of both blacks and whites. And Applebome doesn’t note that Sale, quoted in a national Associated Press article just two weeks earlier, argued against all the evidence that LOS has been “wrongly declared” (by the Southern Poverty Law Center) to be racist.

Applebome may have a soft spot for Southern secessionists. Author of the 1997 book Dixie Rising: How the South is Shaping American Values, Politics and Culture, Applebome in the Times article describes the secession movement that led to the Civil War as “a movement now seen as racist, violent and a loser.” Now seen? As every serious scholar of the Civil War knows, there is no question that the war was fought to defend slavery and the system of white supremacy.

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