League of the South
The League of the South describes itself as a Southern nationalist organization, headquartered in Killen, Alabama, which states that its ultimate goal is "a free and independent Southern republic." The group defines the Southern United States as the states that made up the former Confederacy. It claims to be also a religious and social movement, advocating a return to a more traditionally conservative, Christian-oriented Southern culture. It advocates a "natural societal order of superiors and subordinates", using as an example, "Christ is the head of His Church; husbands are the heads of their families; parents are placed over their children; employers rank above their employees; the teacher is superior to his students, etc." The organization has personal ties to the Italian separatist political group Lega Nord.
The League of the South is considered by many observers to be a white supremacist and white nationalist organization. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the League of the South as a Neo-Confederate hate group.
The organization was formed in 1994 by Michael Hill and others, including attorney Jack Kershaw. The League of the South was named in reference to the League of United Southerners, a group organized in 1858 to shape Southern public opinion and the Lega Nord (Northern League), a very successful populist movement in northern Italy.
As noted, the League promotes the "independence of the Southern people" from the "American empire" and this on a variety of levels: culturally, economically, socially, and politically. It has been described as using English and Celtic mythology "belligerently against what is perceived as a politically correct celebration of multicultural Southern diversity".
The League defines Southern culture "in opposition to the corrupt mainstream American culture." It sees Southern culture as profoundly Christian and pro-life. Furthermore, the League believes that Southern culture places a greater emphasis on immediate relationships than on abstract ideas (the nation, the environment, the global community, etc.) and that Southern geography "defines character and worldview." The League describes Southern Culture as being inherently Anglo-Celtic in nature (originating in the British Isles), and they believe the South's core Anglo-Celtic culture should be preserved.
According to the League, Southern society differs greatly from what it sees as the Marxist and egalitarian society lacking "any grace or charm" that its "alien [American] occupier" seeks to "impress upon it." Southern culture, for the League, is hierarchical, based on the Bible, and decidedly anti-feminist. The League's Core Beliefs Statement also notes that Southern culture "stigmatizes perversity". It also values politeness — which it characterizes as "Southern Hospitality."
The League of the South's economic views are best characterized as free market. It is opposed to fiat currency, personal income taxation, central banking, property taxes and most state regulation of business. The League supports sales taxes and user fees. However, some League members, such as John Cobin, support the use of voluntary taxes like user fees and lotteries to finance government.
Seeking support in the United States Declaration of Independence, the League believes the "Southern people" have the right to secede from the United States, and that they "must throw off the yoke of imperial [federal, or central government] oppression". The League promotes a Southern Confederation of sovereign, independent States that "work together... to conduct foreign affairs". It believes that the South's foreign policy should favor neutrality and trade with all states. Furthermore, the League favors strictly limited immigration, opposes standing armies and any regulation whatsoever of firearms. Though the ultimate goal of the League is to create an independent Southern nation, it sees this aim as the final step in an ongoing process:
Once we have planted the seeds of cultural, economic, and social renewal, then (and only then), should we begin to look to the South's political renewal. Political independence will come only when we have convinced the Southern people that they are indeed a nation in the historical, organic, and Biblical sense of the word, namely, that they are a distinct people with language, mores, and folkways that separate them from the rest of the world.
The League's current official activities focus on recruiting and encouraging "cultural secession" and "withholding our support from all institutions and objects of popular culture that are antithetical to our beliefs and heritage." In November 2006 its representatives attended the First North American Secessionist Convention which brought together secessionists from a broad political spectrum. In October 2007 it co-hosted the Second North American Secessionist Convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The issue of race has become a source of controversy about, and dispute within, the League of the South. In the summer of 2000, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) labeled League of the South a "racist hate group" and issued a report filled with allegations of racist statements, especially by the League's President Michael Hill. According to a news article, Hill "welcomed the designation as a 'badge of honor'" and stated SPLC has "a very leftist agenda, these sorts of things are designed to discredit you publicly."
During the 2006 First North American Secessionist Convention, when the issue of the League of the South and racism was raised, Don Kennedy, identified as "a leader of the League of the South", stated: "How can you believe in liberty and discriminate against your neighbor? Equality before the law is something we want, and we're on the record for that." News stories about the Second North American Secessionist Convention also mentioned the SPLC's allegations, as well as skeptical responses from convention attendees. Convention organizer Kirkpatrick Sale responded: "They call everybody racists. There are, no doubt, racists in the League of the South, and there are, no doubt, racists everywhere."
According to an excerpt from the groups website:
The LS disavows a spirit of malice and extends an offer of good will and cooperation to Southern blacks in areas where we can work together as Christians to make life better for all people in the South. We affirm that, while historically the interests of Southern blacks and whites have been in part antagonistic, true Constitutional government would provide protection to all law-abiding citizens — not just to government-sponsored victim groups.
The League's Board of Directors is composed of Michael Hill, Michael Peroutka, Rev. Eugene Cas, Mark Thomey, Mike Tuggle, Mike Crane and Dr. John Cook. Among the founding members were Thomas Fleming, Grady McWhiney and Clyde Wilson.
- List of active autonomist and secessionist movements
- Military Order of the Stars and Bars
- Southern literature
- Christian Exodus
- League of the South website
- "The US Civil War as a Theological War: Confederate Christian Nationalism and the League of the South"
- League of the. "League of the South Core Beliefs Statement". Archived from the original on 15 June 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
- League of the South FAQ
- Pavia, Will (04 Dec 2010). "'They call us rednecks and crackers but we can govern ourselves'". The Times (London (UK)). p. 35.
- Edsall, Thomas B. (23 July 2000). "Buchanan's Bid Transforms the Reform Party; Candidate's Stands Draw Extreme Right Support". The Washington Post. p. 4.
- Atkins, Steven E. (2011). Encyclopedia of Right-Wing Extremism In Modern American History. ABC-CLIO. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-59884-350-7.
- Helen Taylor (2002). "The South and Britain". In Suzanne W. Jones, Sharon Monteith. South to a New Place: Region, Literature, Culture. Louisiana State University Press. p. 341. ISBN 978-0807128404.
- League of the South page at SPLC
- http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/tennessean/obituary.aspx?n=jack-kershaw&pid=145402616&fhid=4485 Jack Kershaw Obituary
- League Core Beliefs Statement
- Whitmore Jones, Suzanne; Monteith, Sharon (2002). South to a new place: region, literature, culture. LSU Pres`. p. 341. ISBN 978-0-8071-2840-4. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
- Walkowitz, Daniel J.; Lisa Maya Knauer (2005). Memory and the impact of political transformation in public space. Duke University Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-8223-3364-7.
- Atkins, Stephen E. (2002). Encyclopedia of modern American extremists and extremist groups. Greenwood Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-313-31502-2.
- "Southerners have respect for human life, in all its stages, as a gift from God." This language is often used by groups opposed to legal abortion and euthanasia.
- ibid – "Husbands are the heads of their families," "Perpetuates the chivalric ideal of manhood"
- See Cobin, Christian Theology of Public Policy: Highlighting the American Experience (Alertness Books, 2006).
- ibid – "commerce and friendship with all, entangling alliances with none"
- The Grand Strategy
- Gary Shapiro, “Modern-Day Secessionists Will Hold a Conference on Leaving the Union,” The New York Sun, September 27, 2006, 6; Paul Nussbaum, “Coming together to ponder pulling apart, Latter-day secessionists of all stripes convene in Vermont, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 6, 2006.
- Bill Poovey, Secessionists Meeting in Tennessee, Associated Press, reprinted in The Guardian, October 3, 2007; Leonard Doyle, Anger over Iraq and Bush prompts calls for secession from the US, Independent, UK, October 4, 2007; WDEF News 12 Video report on Secessionist Convention, October 3, 2007. The Third North American Secessionist Convention will be held in Manchester, New Hampshire, on November 14–16, 2008.
- League webpage on Confederate flags
- SPLC article on League of South; also see SPLC article on Michael Hill.
- John DeSantis, Civil War revisionism all cited by watchdog group, from The Sun Herald, September 7, 2000, reproduced at Ross Institute.
- Paul Nussbaum Philadelphia Inquirer' article November 6, 2006.
- Bill Poovey, Associated Press, October 3, 2007; Leonard Doyle, Independent, UK, October 4, 2007.
- The League's website