The South Carolina chapter of the League of the South has a new chairman, Michael Cushman, who comes complete with neo-Nazi ties for the neo-Confederate hate group.
This past weekend, the chapter’s board of directors voted to replace former Chairman Lourie A. Salley with Cushman, 36, of Aiken, S.C.
Cushman, who has been heavily involved in a new wave of LOS demonstrations against what the group calls “Southern demographic displacement,” hopes to buff up the group’s image.
Under his guidance, the LOS has begun a campaign to appear more mainstream by no longer publicly displaying symbols like the long-fetishized Confederate battle flag. The group now flies a new “Southern nationalist” flag and uses only pre-approved slogans during its demonstrations. This rebranding, which includes shirts, business cards and lawn signs, has been funded almost exclusively by Cushman and those who donate to him.
So far, the group’s mission itself hasn’t changed. The LOS advocates for a second secession by the South in order to establish a Christian, theocratic state dominated by “European Americans.” The “godly” nation sought by the group would be run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (or white) elite.
Despite his attempts to remove the stigma from the LOS, Cushman cannot escape his own extremist past as a dues-paying member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance. After first contacting the group in 1997, he became a full-fledged member and contributor in 1999. This fact, however, is nowhere to be found on his current website, Southern Nationalist Network, or any LOS site.
The associations with white supremacy don’t stop there. Cushman, under the name “hammeroftours,” has posted more than 1,000 times on Stormfront, the leading racist web forum. Despite objecting to being called a neo-Nazi, he advocates in one post for Jews to be singled out “for the negative influence and schemeing [sic].”
Cushman will be in good company with the LOS. The Florida chapter’s chairman, Michael Tubbs, spent four years in prison after pleading guilty to theft of government property and conspiracy to transport guns and explosives across state lines. Prosecutors said that while serving in the Army, the former Green Beret demolitions expert and another Green Beret stole weapons from fellow soldiers. Authorities found a cache that included machine guns, 25 pounds of TNT, land mines, an anti-aircraft machine gun, grenades, booby traps, and 45 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives, among other items – all believed stolen from two Army bases in the late 1980s. He hoped to use the weapons to arm a violent, racist group called the Knights of the New Order he was starting.
Although Cushman says he is simply advocating for “the survival, well-being and independence of the Southern people,” his rhetoric is similar to that used by figures such as Tubbs, who once wrote: “I dedicate my heart to oppos[ing] the enemies of my race, my nation and the New Order … I dedicate my life from this moment forward to fostering the welfare of the white Aryan race.”
“Our state is ripe for our message,” Cushman wrote in a statement about becoming chairman of the LOS’ chapter in South Carolina.
However, the method of delivering that message seems to be in dispute by traditional LOS supporters who refuse to disavow Confederate heritage.
“This man has sold out our ancestors to promote himself, his new flag, and sell his merchandise,” wrote Nathan Schroedder on the Confederacy page on Facebook. “Do not fall for his scam people. He is a con man.”
Whatever his motives, Cushman has changed the public face of the LOS. He has moved the LOS toward the mainstream in appearance, but its leadership and their associations tell a different story.