Since word spread about three weeks ago that the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS) was coming to middle Tennessee this weekend to protest immigration and refugee resettlement, local anti-racists have been working hard to make sure the group’s stay is as uncomfortable as possible.
“We are completely non-violent,” Darlene Neal of the Tennessee Anti Racist Network told Hatewatch. “But we want to disrupt the League’s process, because their process is one of hate mongering and creating divisiveness in communities wherever they go.”
So far, so good.
The League has scheduled a two-hour rally in Murfreesboro for Saturday, the latest stop on the hate group’s “Southern demographic displacement” tour – a white supremacist version of a traveling pity-party. The League is also planning a second rally in Shelbyville, about 25 miles south of Murfreesboro. But after being contacted by members of the Anti Racist Network and told about the League’s pro-secessionist, white nationalist, anti-immigrant philosophy, two area hotels canceled the League’s block reservations and group rate.
Neal also sent an E-mail to the mayor of Murfreesboro, Tommy Bragg, alerting him to the League’s use of the city logo on its website, advertising the rally. She urged the mayor to ask the League to remove the logo.
“The use of the logo,” Neal wrote, “gives the impression that the City is in support of their racist rally, or at least, that they will receive a warm welcome in Murfreesboro.”
Bragg wrote back, saying that he was not aware the league was using the logo, adding that he would alert the city attorney.
A short time later, the logo was removed from the site.
Several members of the anti-racist group also sent “multiple” E-mails and Facebook messages to local media, sounding the alarm about the pending neo-Confederate invasion. John I. Carney, the city editor of the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, received one of the Facebook messages and wrote a column about the upcoming LOS rally under the headline, “Just call it what it is: Racism.”
“I’m not sure how they feel they’re being ‘displaced,’” Carney wrote. “No one is forcing them to leave. Small-minded bigots are still free to live in America and even to hold small-minded demonstrations.”
Michael Cushman, the chairman of the League’s South Carolina chapter, writes that the group is coming to middle Tennessee Saturday to protest the “thousands of immigrants from Islamic countries “ that have been resettled in the area over the years by the federal government “in an attempt to break up homogeneous areas of the US by forcing ‘diversity’ upon historical communities.”
The government is aided in this effort to displace “the native people of Middle Tennessee,” Cushman writes, by “anti-White” refugee resettlement organizations and Tyson Foods, the chicken-processing giant, that employs a large number of immigrants at its Shelbyville plant.
“They’ve really targeted Tyson,” Neal of the Anti Racist Network said. “It’s true Tyson does employ members of the Shelbyville community, which includes immigrants, which most Americans were at some point along the way.”
Unfortunately, Tennessee has long been a hotbed for anti-Muslim activism, especially after plans were laid to build an Islamic center in Murfreesboro. There have been bomb threats and numerous conferences centered on the unfounded but widely hyped fear that Shariah law will somehow be imposed on Americans.
Countering religious and racial intolerance is why the Network was founded last April, Neal said. On Saturday, the group will gather about a block away from the LOS rally along the main thoroughfare in Murfreesboro. Neal said there will be poets, musicians and speakers. If LOS holds a second rally in Shelbyville, “we will be there, too.”
“I always think of the old saying, ‘Silence is consent,’’’ Neal said. “I think more than that, when you don’t speak up, when the community doesn’t have an alternative to hateful speech, when we don’t provide a counterweight, it creates an illusion that the community doesn’t mind and maybe even agrees.
“Well, we mind,” she said. “And we don’t agree.”
As the Network says on its website, “Racism: ignore it and it won’t go away.”