Is there a Southern movement? Part II.

Things are heating up in the South, and much more could be written about the South.
by Mark Vogl
Monday, April 2, 2012

As disputes across Virginia between authorities and Southern patriots unfold, I decided to do a follow up article on the Southern movement.

In Part II we will focus more on people who are active in fighting the political correctness cancer which has infested much of the South’s institutions and heritage organizations.  And, we will we talk with Dr. Hill, President of the League of the South.  

The Flaggers in Richmond

Has the South found its own version of Sarah Palin?  I could not help but think that as I talked with Susan Hathaway in a late night telephone interview for this article.

Mrs. Hathaway started her protest of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts 29 weeks ago.  Her initial flagging efforts were to get the Museum to reverse its policy regarding the removal of the Confederate Colors at the Confederate chapel.  In the beginning there was just one lone flagger, herself.  She said that within three weeks three people were gathering for the protest.  And now, twenty nine weeks later she normally has 15 Flaggers to stand with her one day a week from 3 Pm to dusk.  “The days are getting longer as dusk moves later and later,” she kidded as she told me about her activities that day.

These Flaggers, mothers, grandfathers, children sometimes, are sure dangerous folks.  The Museum of the Confederacy lays on extra security when they know the flaggers will be around. So, Susan and the other leaders switch the days, just to give the museum a little heartburn.  “The longer this goes on, the more the museum tries to intimidate us with extra security and tougher restrictions on where we can walk.” said Susan.   

The Flaggers are combining their protests for the flying of a flag at the Chapel, and protesting the Museum of the Confederacy which is only a short distance away.

When asked about the media coverage, Susan said that generally the news coverage has been pretty fair, “50 – 50,” especially the television coverage.  “You have to understand, we are in the museum district of Richmond, which is very liberal.  There are Obama stickers everywhere.  But, we do meet people who are supportive of our efforts, and the media has been better than I thought it would be.”

When a news story about the Museum ran without any coverage of the Flaggers, Susan knew to pick up the phone and give the reporter a call.  That call resulted in a second article, one she believes was favorable to the flaggers’ goal.

Susan gives a lot credit to Billy Bearden of Georgia, and Grayson Jennings of Richmond. “Those two guys have been real advisers to our efforts.  They know how to do things like we are attempting.”  Billy Bearden had been active in the fights about the Georgia state flag almost twenty years ago.

The Flaggers have not just been protestors in the streets.  Mrs. Hathaway reports that the Flaggers have been active at committee meetings at the state legislature.  She believes her groups activities helped kill three different bills while they were still in Committee.  One bill was going to change President’s Day in Virginia to Lincoln’s Day.  Another bill was going to create a Slavery commission, which translates to establishing a platform to discuss reparations.

Though these are activities the Sons of Confederate Veterans (S.C.V.) and United Daughters of the Confederacy should be active in, it seems this ad hoc group of Southern patriots is doing more, with much less, to meet General Lee’s Charge.

But, Susan speaks very highly of Michael Givens, Commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  “I have been very impressed with Michael,” Susan said.  “He is trying to coordinate activities between the large heritage groups.” Susan was full of kind compliments for Commander Givens.          

Givens had issued a letter to the S.C.V. general membership after the national board of director issued a resolution calling for a boycott of the Appomattox Grand Opening March 31st.

While Susan was not willing to divulge future planning for operations, she did say they were working on a couple things.

“I would love to see these kinds of activity spread spontaneously across the South,” Susan wished quietly as we ended our call.  Her prayers are not hers alone, as patriots all across the South have been disappointed with the lack of action by the heritage organizations.   

The Southern Nationalist Network (SNN)

At 6500 hits per week, Michael Cushman’s SNN will get more than three hundred thousand hits per year!  And Cushman’s site is different from many other Southern websites in that he provides both written stories and podcasts.  The podcasts feature audio interviews with southern patriots concerning a wide variety of issues.  This site is a reliable source of news concerning the southern nationalist movement.   

Michael Cushman, 35 years old, is a fella of who knows his subject matter. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the University of South Carolina at Aiken, but he insists he learned much more after he graduated, than while he was in class.  Michael was formerly a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, but like so many other former S.C.V. members Michael became disillusioned by the “granny” attitudes prevalent in so much of the organization.  And through our discussion – interview I came to have great respect for Michael’s insights.

Michael’s first experience with the S.C.V. was when troubles sprang up in Aiken, South Carolina.  There was a movement afoot to rename Wade Hampton Avenue, Martin Luther King Avenue.  The local S.C.V. camp sprang into action to prevent this action by the City Council. But Michael was disappointed that the camp did not use the money it had collected for the fight, and the momentum the camp had gained in its successful fight to do more.

Aiken is a very wealthy town, “almost all Yankees now.  Pretty much all of the Southerners have been pushed out. Mostly wealthy Yankees now.” Said Michael.  The SCV has a big camp and they do a lot, but they pledge to the US Flag.  “I have always been more radical than the SCV.” “The SCV maintains memorials, and they run the Battle of Aiken.”

Michael decided to use his efforts for a more aggressive campaign, the result is his work on the internet.  He believes there is still “a nation, an ethnic group and a culture” that exists within the modern South.

Michael said “Secession is the fundamental right which is the only real meaningful check on a centralized government.”  I could hear Donnie Kennedy in Michael’s words.

Many in the Southern movement believe what Michael said next;  “The US empire is on the way out… if we can preserve our national identity and prevent an amalgamation and assimilation within a larger group we may still persevere in creating a free South.”

Michael introduced a new observation I had not heard before: “There is a huge generational schism between old Southerners and the new South, younger southerners are not as assimilated into the U.S.”  Michael believes that many younger people see the decline and collapse of America more readily than older people. He says that these younger people have a grasp of the original intent of the Founders of the united States.  

The Southern Nationalist Network is about 18 months old, and is an upgrade from Michael’s first website, the Southern Liberation Media News.  Michael does not have advertising on his site, but he does accept donations to help offset the cost of running a news network.  Michael said this is not a money making venture.

In closing our talk, Michael made a statement which seems to echo across all the people I talk to within the Southern movement; “A southerner will always know another Southerner.”

In the first article I did mention the League of the South.  But the information provided was from their website and secondary interviews.  This time I went straight to the man who has been the President of the League for its 18 years of existence, Dr. Michael Hill.

The League of the South

Dr. Hill earned his Ph.D in History at the University of Alabama.  Dr. Hill was cordial and frank in our discussion.  He explained that the League formed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in June of 1994 in response to actions against the South, and because the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other heritage organizations were not organized for the purpose Dr. Hill and others had in mind.  The purpose of the League is:

“The League of the South is a Southern Nationalist organization whose ultimate goal is a free and independent Southern republic. To reach this goal, we intend to create the climate for a free South among our people by 1) de-legitimating the American Empire at every opportunity; 2) by proving our willingness to be servant-leaders to the Southern people; and 3) by making The League of the South a strong, viable organization that will lead us to Southern independence.”

More simply stated the goal of the League is: “To advance the cultural, social, economic, and political well-being and independence of the Southern people by all honourable means.”

On its home page the League rejects the notion that it is a revolutionary outfit intending to overthrow the U.S. government.  The League also rejects racism.  A very important thing since any new southern nation would have a strong Afro-American and Mexican influence.

Presently, the League has between four thousand and six thousand members.  Most of the members reside in the South, but there are sizable memberships in New York and California.

Dr. Hill explained: “We believe that there is still an Anglo Celtic core in the South (western Christendom) culturally close enough to be common.” He went on to say that the cultural homogenization of the American people is eroding the Southern culture and that many in the South have been influenced by Yankee occupation of the South and Reconstructionist history.  What occupation could not do, nationalized television and radio are doing.

I asked Dr. Hill if he had seen an increase in membership as a result of the Sesquicentennial and he replied no. But, he said there were two spikes in membership recently. The first occurred when President Bush conducted the first bail out, the second after the election of President Barack Obama.

The League is not a democratic organization.  Leaders are selected from the top.  The League has a national office, state chapters, and local chapters.  Authority is generously delegated down through the states to the local chapters.  I sensed there was a goal to get a chapter in every county in the South.

While the League is not a heritage organization and does not organize or work on heritage defense issues like the battles occurring in Richmond, Appomattox, and Lexington many members of the League work with other Southern patriots on these type issues.

Dr. Hill said that the Southern National Congress came into existence in large part because the leadership of the League felt their needed to be a political voice for the South.  However, Dr. Hill insisted that the League and the Congress were two separate organizations, each operating independent of the other.  “More than half the delegates who attend the annual Congress meetings are members of the League,” Hill said.

Dr. Hill said that the majority of the work being done by the League is organizational.  Much effort is being expended in organizing local chapters across the South and establishing an internal communications system that could withstand disruption caused by a natural or political emergency.  Dr. Hill believes the United States is in a state of decline and could actually cease to exist as a result of a number of ongoing trends.  If it does, he says he wants the League to be prepared for such an eventuality.

The Southern Partisan Reader

Tim Manning is a prolific writer and activist in the South.  His website, the Southern Partisan Reader is a warehouse of essays concerning the South.  Tim is published continually through the Southern Heritage News and Views.  Among other activities, Tim is responsible for the educational material associated with the Stephen D. Lee Institute, an educational arm of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Tim is a very well read thinker who believes  “The melting pot is a concept of social conditioning intended to create a cultural flavor which begin at the end of the 19th century.  This new influence was not American, southern, or Christian.  There is no conservative movement in America any more…”  It was not just the Southern states who were reconstructed.

When asked if there was a Southern movement, Tim replied:  “Asking it in the singular?  No.  Are there Southern movements?  Yes. A lot of the different movements are becoming more aware of that there is a general consensus of opinion and thought.”  But Tim acknowledges that much of what the South was is gone.  “The South today is not philosophically different from the rest of the nation," however elements are. distinctively different from the rest of the country in many vital respects, especially amoung more devout Christians, but still it is very reconstructed.

When you talk to Tim about his life experience and his opinions of present day America you hear a kind of disappointment widespread amongst many men who consider themselves Southern: “We have not found that the people of this nation were interested in the view of the founder’s.” Tim’s view touched a nerve with me.  As I believe the exercise of citizenship within our nation has collapsed in most Americans to a very a small materially centered attitude.  What we each receive from government seems to be at the essence of our individual citizenship, and we have ignored or rejected the legacy of liberty passed down to us.

One historic reality, white washed out of the politically correct version of the causes for secession that the South of 1860, was the Southern belief it was holding true to the original Constitution.  The North and Abe Lincoln sought a more powerful central government to use political power to assist commercial activity and shape the nation.  The South hoped to keep central government at arm’s length on most domestic issues and allow commerce to occur unfettered.  For the South, If there was to be molding of commerce it should occur in the states, allowing the sovereignty of the states to be preserved.   

Manning is more open to the idea that the South is not ethnically what it once was.  He said: “The South is not a monolithic cultureand never has been for any significant period of time.”  But Manning also expresses a wide spread disappointment that regionalism on television has vanished, and that the centralized control of national television is quickly dissipating the Southern identity.   “We would like to see the qualities of the South aired in the modern media.”

When asked about the Southern National Congress, Manning said they formed “because they see the U.S. as disintegrating.”  This reflects a theme espoused by Virginian Patrick Buchanan in many of his books.  

While Manning readily admits to influx of Mexican and Yankee settlers in large parts of the South, he asserts; “A lot of people in the South consider themselves as much a unique group as any other nationality.  There are a group of people in the South who are distinct. When our speakers speak to groups you can see lights come on as they recognize that they do feel like the speaker is saying.”

When I made the comment that many people in the South, including some in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, are ashamed of being from the South, Tim replied; “I believe your observation is a great one.  This is the natural result of years of the indoctrinational conditioning that we call ‘reconstruction’ or ‘yankeefication’.”

Living in North Carolina, Tim Manning is on one of the front lines of the evolving South.  The high tech triangle which has risen in central Carolina brought with it about 45,000 higher income high tech workers (most from outside Carolina)  who could be the swing vote in that state which will decide its choice on election day.

On the movement

Manning’s comment that there are many movements in the South appears to be the most accurate.  There is no revolutionary movement that I can find.  There is no one who wants to over throw the government or force secession.

The folks most obvious in the Confederate uniforms, the re-enactors and the Sons of Confederate Veterans are probably the least concerned with any future South.  Their view is backward.  They seem focused on the history.  While the Charge of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is in the present tense, “vindicate the Cause,” a large number of them do not see vindicate for its definition in the dictionary. They do not see justification of the Cause for its political ramifications.  And many like Waite Rawl at the Museum of the Confederacy are more comfortable in allowing the dust of history to bury the patriotic zeal that was the South.

One group missing from this article is African Americans.  They are an intregal part of the future of the South.  They have been an intregal part of the South from its earliest moments.  During the War for Southern Independence, it was the African American community which did not revolt, but remained loyal to the South, who made the plantations work and were part of the home front infrastructure for the war.  And many blacks fought for the South, as freed man and slave.  Their contributions have been sorely under reported because it is inconvenient history.  But in any new South, black Southerners would be essential.    

Some in the Southern movement believe America is collapsing across a broad front, morally, financially, culturally, and with respect to its origination.  A common thread I have found, even when not openly articulated, is that “we are waiting.”  We are waiting for the day when without us, and not because of us, chaos will erupt.  At that point new political arrangements will have to be made.  And at that point, the South may re-emerge as a nation.

©2012 Mark Vogl

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