Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Local wingnuttery

Via the excellent Cursor, I see that Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) observed 9/11 by attending a barbecue hosted for him by the League of the South. Maybe some enterprising reporter in Tancredo's district will ask him why he saw fit to observe the anniversary of 9/11 by addressing a group that's founded upon - how to put it - an ideology of hate. A group that is devoted to the destruction of the United States as a nation.

The Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes the League of the South as a "neo-Confederate hate group." Judging from the South Carolina website of the League, they're kinda sensitive about being labelled a "hate group"; last year the SC League (warning: Embedded link goes to a HATE GROUP website)took great umbrage at being characterized as such on a local television station:

Last Sunday on a WIS TV program called "Awareness" the South Carolina League of the South was viciously attacked as a "hate group" by a panel of blacks.

A panel of blacks! How dreadful! I'll bet they were uppity, too.

So apparently it's not just the SPLC that thinks the League of the South is a hate group. I wonder where people would get such an idea, anyway? I dunno, maybe from reading stuff like this:

Finally, after one hundred forty-one years, with the aid of the South Carolina League of the South, justice for the citizens of the Republic of South Carolina has been served. In Columbia, on the steps of our State House, the tyrant, Abraham Lincoln, and the war-criminal, William T. Sherman, were both hung by the neck until dead.

- which appeared immediately above the sentence complaining about the injustice of being attacked as a hate group. By a panel of blacks.

Anyway, the SC League of the South wasn't going to take being labelled a hate group lying down, so they got representatives of WIS-TV (Columbia, SC's local NBC affiliate) to meet with some SC LoS representatives. As recounted by Laura C. Tesh, who says she's legal counsel to the board of the SC LoS in a piece entitled WIS-TV: Defending Our Name & Building Bridges in the Fire:

On Monday, 8 August 2005, Larry Salley, Dr. Clyde Wilson, and I met with Mel Stebbins, General Manager and Vice President for Operations for WIS-TV and his legal counsel from Nexsen Pruet about the recent article on the WIS website citing SPLC’s assertion that South Carolina leads the nation in “hate groups” due in large part to the number of LoS chapters.


The meeting was not what I expected. Idealist that I am, I really thought that once we explained what we were really about—states’ rights, restoring individual liberty, historical literacy, preserving Southern culture—they would want to join or at least be very receptive. Good thing I forgot to bring membership applications.


Just meeting us face to face as real, reasonable people gave them some pause. While they did not listen, perhaps they heard and will review the material we left. Initially, they seemed to have written us off as lunatics who had to be humored.

Heh. As would all sane people. But hey . . . at least they still have Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo.

Okay, so the meeting didn't exactly swell the League's membership rolls, nor did it lead to an apology by WIS-TV, nor did it persuade WIS-TV to give the SC chapter of the League its own television show. But Ms Tesh goes on to counsel against further, um, action by the League against WIS-TV:

At this point, flagging is premature. Although this meeting may not have accomplished much, we have at least initiated relations. The story is over; the blurb on the website is off. If we flag them, it will confirm their suspicion that we are nuts and a hate group for attacking such “nice” people as themselves, all evidence to the contrary. If we let it go at that and try to maintain good relations, we neutralize the attacks. If it happens again, then would be the time to call out the Red Shirts.

Which led me to wonder, what is this "flagging" stuff? And who are these "Red Shirts?" It sounds vaguely familiar, like something one might have read about in one's South Carolina history class . . .:

In 1876, many upstate rebels traded their white hoods for red shirts, becoming part of the "red shirt rebellion" that elected Democrat Wade Hampton governor, forcefully stripped white and black Republicans of their political power and precipitated a withdrawal of Union troops from South Carolina. The first Red Shirt rally was held in Anderson, the next county north of Abbeville.

Oh, those guys. So now the Red Shirts are back:

Just this past year, the Red Shirt tradition was revived by the League of the South, which conducted "red-shirt pickets" outside both of South Carolina's Democratic presidential debates, holding signs that named each candidate and demanded: "Yankee Go Home."

Well, things have certainly changed in the last 130 years, haven't they? Instead of driving Republicans out of South Carolina, the local Red Shirts are inviting the most extreme ones in, and hosting barbecues for them.

Let's get back to what Ms. Tesh said the LoS is "really about": "states’ rights, restoring individual liberty, historical literacy, preserving Southern culture" - gee, it doesn't sound all that bad when you put it that way, does it? Unfortunately, if that wasn't a crock of shit when Ms. Tesh wrote it, it sure is now. A little over a month after she wrote her piece, the League let everyone who didn't already know in on what it is really, really about:

The League of the South unveiled its new strategy at the 2005 national conference in Jekyll Island, Georgia, on 30 September-1 October. Below is a summary of that strategy.

First, the League’s new strategy must be implemented from the bottom up—locally--and not from the top down. If we don’t succeed on the local chapter level, then we will not succeed at all.

Second, we cannot emphasize too often or too strongly that the League is a Southern nationalist organization and not a heritage defense group. Our goal is Southern independence, complete, full, and total. This is our chief principle of action. All efforts must be tested against this question: Does it aid our quest for independence? If not, then don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. If your agenda does not have Southern independence at its core, then you’re in the wrong organization. [emphasis supplied]

So much for that "preserving Southern culture" shit.

I guess, according to this second principle, the barbecue for Tom Tancredo would have to have been done "in aid of" the League's quest for Southern independence, right? I can only hope someone asks Rep. Tancredo about this.

More on the League's "new strategy":

Let’s briefly examine these seven parts. (1) We will never reach our goal of Southern independence if we don’t persuade our people that it’s both desirable and possible. We are thus waging a war to win the minds and hearts of the Southern people.

War? Wouldn't that war ultimately be against, you know, America itself?

I believe our gubmint has thrown people in GITMO for less provocation than that. But then, those people weren't white Christians.


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