Hours after a shooter took the lives of 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue and injured others, Michael Hill, president of the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS), went on Facebook to share antisemitic vitriol.
He linked to a video that showed LOS members burning an Israeli flag and copy of the Talmud, while dismissing the Holocaust as a “con game.” Hill lauded the September post, writing “It never gets old! What a great ad for us!”
Almost immediately, LOS members began backpedaling.
Brandon Richey, a prominent young member of the League, took to the internet to announce his departure and to criticize the direction the “premier southern nationalist” organization has taken.
“I apologize for the sudden departure, and in the future should the League realize a change of course and be brought back in line with the end goals of Southern Nationalism then I will happily rejoin with all of my effort. But until that day comes I will seek my own way and see where it takes me.”
Richey was a notable presence with the LOS at events in New Orleans, Louisiana; Charlottesville, Virginia; Shelbyville, Tennessee; and Newnan, Georgia, often standing out from the crowded fray due to his imposing stature. In the aftermath of the “Unite the Right” rally he appeared as a guest on The Right Stuff’s Daily Shoah podcast under the pseudonym “the Forehead,” a reference to his shaved head.
Other members also departed, all citing the League’s drift from its past principles.
Hatewatch has previously documented LOS struggles to contain bickering and infighting (here, here, here, and here), particularly in the aftermath of mass shootings like last weekend’s shooting at a Pennsylvania synagogue.
The overarching facts of that tragedy bear notable similarities to the 2015 Charleston Emmanuel AME shooting: a person steeped in the paranoid and conspiratorial vitriol traded on far-right web spaces acts out violently against vulnerable individuals scapegoated for their immutable characteristics. The alleged perpetrator of the Tree of Life shooting posted frequently on an alt-right social media site, Gab, and frequently railed against Jews and other minorities.
In the aftermath of the Charleston shooting, Hill and the League performed a quick about-face on the question of the Confederate Battle Flag, and Hill’s rhetoric became markedly more militant. Several prominent individuals in the League jumped ship, including the creator of the League’s “Southern Nationalist” flag, Michael Cushman, and Ed Wolfe, a longtime member from Georgia and formerly that state’s LOS chairman.
Tensions mounted between Hill and his current “PR Chief,” Brad Griffin, who operates a white nationalist blog called Occidental Dissent under the penname Hunter Wallace.
In a blog titled “An Open Response to Michael Hill,” Griffin put the League’s drama out in public view, taking his leader and the LOS to task, stating:
I don’t think militias, survivalism or violent apocalyptic rhetoric — the 1980s and 1990s is the way forward. When I joined the League of the South, it was none of those things. Because of Lügenpresse guilt by association, I had to deal with the aftermath of the Dylann Roof shooting in Charleston. I’ve never wanted to be associated with violent vanguardists like that. I don’t want to attract or encourage unstable people who do stupid things.
Hill for his part, has issued denunciations of his former members as “cowards,” and has sought to distract from the dispute by issuing two requests for funds, the first for $45 for “an emergency need that must be handled quickly.”
Whether or not Hill received the $45, he soon followed up with another request for a larger sum, this time $250,000. Hill has previously sought donations for a “war chest,” and directed funds to a PayPal account associated with a Gmail address.