After a scandal exposed by the Intelligence Report, the neo-Confederate Sons of Confederate Veterans' controversial leader Ron Wilson tries to rid the organization of moderates.
So far, no musket fire has been reported. But a continuing civil war over control of the nation's largest Southern "heritage" group, the 31,400-member Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), is producing a flurry of battle maneuvers, counterinsurgencies and hot rhetoric.
Ron Wilson, the extreme-right national commander in chief who has fought to make the SCV more "activist," tried to declare the equivalent of martial law in January.
In a letter sent to all the SCV's local "camps," Wilson called for a special convention to pass a series of constitutional amendments that would have hogtied his opponents and allowed him to serve a second two-year term when his time is up in July.
But his call to "stymie a handful of powerful dissidents" was rejected en masse by camps in eight states by the end of January, and only 180 camps had signed on out of the 421 needed.
Wilson's maneuver hit a serious snag when an anonymous letter was mailed out by a "G.W. Lee," urging camps to reject the special convention. "Lee" enclosed a copy of an Intelligence Report story (see Dirty Tricks) about Wilson's Florida ally and state leader, John Walker Adams, who signed up Intelligence Report staff writer Heidi Beirich for Internet porn sites and then bragged about it to the SCV board.
Adams, the SCV's adjutant-in-chief and a national executive board member, was fired from those posts for his "ungentlemanly" behavior, but Wilson's refusal to expel him from the group entirely so upset longtime SCV loyalist Bill Dorris that he took extreme measures: He literally turned off the lights and shut off public access at his Confederate history park along I-65, just south of Nashville, which features a massive statue of Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest.
"Some of us won't stand for that kind of misconduct," Dorris told the Report.
In February, the battle shifted to North Carolina, where an internal group of dissidents called Save the SCV (SSCV) had earlier sprung up to oppose racism within the SCV and the Wilson regime.
The state's Wilsonite executive council voted unanimously to "prepare possible recommendations of expulsion" for "each listed SSCV supporter/member." The leaders claimed they were "not attempting to limit members' free speech or curtail diverse opinions," but instead saving the SCV from "an organization hostile to and destructive of the code of conduct and core values" of the group.
By booting antiracist dissidents, the state council said it would be acting "to appropriately safeguard its integrity and its historic mission."
Save the SCV supporters say it's Wilson and his radical cohorts who are tainting the group's historic mission — an allegation supported by another action the North Carolina leaders took in February. They invited Sam Francis, the chief editor of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens hate group, to be guest speaker at Confederate Flag Day ceremonies in March.
"Apparently, SCV types all over this state are gleefully breaking their robes and hoods out of the closet and getting them spiffy for the next big event," wrote Chip Pate, a former SCV leader in North Carolina who resigned after Wilson's 2002 election.
The question of whether or not the SCV continues its radical drift could be determined in July, when its national convention in Dalton, Ga., is slated to elect a new commander in chief. Wilson's hand-picked candidate, Denne Sweeney, will face at least two opponents.
One of them is Walt Hilderman, head of Save the SCV, who is running on a strong antiracist platform — assuming that he and his supporters have not been kicked out by then.
Roger McCredie, a member of Wilson's radical home camp in Easley, S.C., is running for what is effectively the SCV's No. 2 post, head of the Army of Northern Virginia, a geographical division of the group.
His own racial views were made plain recently when McCredie replied to someone on an SCV E-list who'd written, "I didn't know 'we all agreed slavery was wrong.' "
McCredie's response: "Hear hear."