Edward Sebesta has a new blog, Anti-Neo-Confederate. Who are the Neo-Confederates and why should you care? Back in August, Max Blumenthal had an article in the Nation about powerful lobbyists in Washington, who are also part of an extremist takeover of Neo-Confederate groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The article closed with this telling scenario:
On Memorial Day, 2001, George W. Bush resurrected a tradition his father discontinued during his presidency: laying a wreath at the base of the Confederate monument at the Arlington National Cemetery. The White House has claimed that the practice continued from the Bush Sr. Administration through the Clinton years, yet according to Hurley, "not a single person in the Confederate community ever saw the wreath back at the Confederate memorial until Geoge W. Bush came into office." Hurley says Bush merely changed the day of the wreath's delivery, from Confederate Memorial Day--Jefferson Davis's birthday--to the US Memorial Day. Last Confederate Memorial Day, Hurley witnessed [Richard T.] Hines at the memorial leading a gathering of Washington-based conservatives, including members of the Jefferson Davis Camp 305 that met at the Mary Surratt site. Now Bush Administration officials joined the commemoration, most prominently Robert Wilkie, the former foreign policy adviser to Senator Lott who was appointed last October by Condoleezza Rice as the National Security Council's senior legislative director. Attired in all-white plantation garb and white top hat, Hines fired an artillery cannon he had carted along for the occasion. Then he and the ceremony's attendees solemnly saluted the Confederate flag.
Here is some background from Blumenthal, on Richard T. Hines:
In 1996, standing beside members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Jefferson Davis Camp 305, Hines unfurled a Confederate battle flag in downtown Richmond, Virginia, to protest the dedication of a monument to black tennis great Arthur Ashe. He called the Ashe statue "a sharp stick in the eye of those who honor the Confederate heritage."
Hines's protest reflected the brand of resentment found on the pages of America's major neo-secessionist publication, Southern Partisan, of which Hines was managing editor for nearly two decades. Southern Partisan served partly as a forum for historical revisionism that cast Lincoln as a villain; in 1984 Hines himself penned a paean to Preston Brooks, the secessionist South Carolina congressman who caned Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on the Senate floor in 1854 for his speeches against slavery. The magazine also acted as Hines's instrument for connecting sympathetic political movers and shakers to the neo-Confederate base. Hines arranged a 1993 Partisan interview with Washington Times senior editor Wes Pruden, whose father, Wes Pruden Sr., as the chaplain of the Little Rock White Citizens Council, led resistance to the integration of Central High School in 1957 with the cry: "That's what we've gotta fight, niggers, Communists and cops." In 1997 Hines interviewed Senator Trent Lott, who as a young congressman convinced Reagan to initiate his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Klansmen had murdered three young civil rights workers in 1964. In 1998 Hines chatted with Senator John Ashcroft of Missouri, who praised Hines and the Partisan for "setting the record straight," a comment that nearly doomed his nomination as Attorney General when it was dredged up during his confirmation hearings in 2001. In the year before Bush's election, Southern Partisan advertised the sale of T-shirts emblazoned with a Confederate flag shaped like a Republican Party elephant beside the phrase "Lincoln's Worst Nightmare!"
By 2000 Hines was positioned to help rescue George W. Bush's flagging presidential candidacy from the jaws of defeat with an inspired dirty-tricks campaign. When Bush arrived in South Carolina in May, he was licking his wounds from a stunning defeat in New Hampshire to John McCain. For Bush, who needed to win the South to gain the nomination, the South Carolina primary was do or die.
Hines's link to the Bush campaign was Bush's South Carolina spokesman Tucker Eskew, a local protégé of the legendary dirty-tricks master from the Palmetto State, Lee Atwater. Eskew was in constant contact with another former Atwater protégé, Karl Rove. Hines turned an unregistered political action committee called "Keep It Flying," which he created to fight the NAACP's attempts to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse, into a vehicle for the Bush cause. He sent out 250,000 fliers that he signed with his own name accusing McCain of "changing his tune" on the Confederate flag and describing Bush as "the [only] major candidate who refused to call the Confederate flag a racist symbol." In fact, in a January appearance on Meet the Press, McCain had called the flag "a symbol of heritage" and an issue "to be settled without interference from presidential candidates." Regardless, the tactic succeeded brilliantly. In the wake of the mailing Bush surged ahead of McCain and defeated him in the primary. Bush finally returned his debt of gratitude late last year, when he appointed Hines's wife, Patricia, to the National Committee on Libraries and Information Science.
Hines's direct-mail campaign might not have been so timely were it not for the political atmospherics that his close allies in South Carolina had generated. In January 2000, immediately after the NAACP announced a tourist boycott of South Carolina, Hines's college buddy Roger McCredie marshaled groups including the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the white-supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens at the state Capitol in Columbia to rally around the flag. Six thousand people showed up, many waving Confederate battle flags and dressed in Civil War-era battle uniforms. Compared with the 50,000 who marched through Columbia earlier that month for the flag's removal, it was a paltry turnout. Yet the rally demonstrated a residual level of vitriol toward Confederate flag opponents. State Senator Arthur Ravenel drew gales of applause when he blasted the NAACP as "the National Association of Retarded People."
Lurking in the shadow of the grandstand throughout the rally was a scraggly man oddly wearing a top hat--one of Hines's most important political allies. Kirk Lyons earned far-right celebrity status in 1988 for successfully defending white supremacist Louis Beam against a sedition charge of plotting to overthrow the government by force in order to set up an all-white nation in the Pacific Northwest. Lyons's ubiquity as a legal counsel to white supremacists and a speaker at neo-Nazi events prompted the Southern Poverty Law Center to identify him in 1991 as one of the top ten "Leaders in Today's White Supremacy Movement." Lyons dreamed of resurrecting the white supremacist movement as a more sophisticated incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan. "I have great respect for the Klan historically, but, sadly the Klan today is ineffective and sometimes even destructive," Lyons told a German neo-Nazi magazine in 1992. "It would be good if the Klan followed the advice of former Klansman Robert Miles: 'Become invisible. Hang the robes and hoods in the cupboard and become an underground organization.'" When Lyons discovered the Sons of Confederate Veterans, he realized he didn't have to go underground after all.
If you want to know more about this part of the right, Anti-Neo-Confederate is a good resource. The blog savvy will be frustrated that there are no permalinks or rss feeds; but it's valuable content from an authority on the subject. One of Edward's recent posts offers a who's who among the Neo-Confederate groups. Another one describes the rise of anti-Semitism in the Neo-Confederate movement—a trend in far right groups across the board, it seems. There's much, much more there, as well as links to Edward's other web pages. Of particular interest is Edward's page for tracking how political candidates do and don't align themselves with the Neo-Confederates.
UPDATE: added link to Max Blumenthal's article.
UPDATE 12/19: Edward Sebesta has moved his blog over to blogger in order to improve our access to his contnet. The new url is: http://newtknight.blogspot.com. Links have been modified, above. Some of the Anti-Neo-Confederate content mentioned, above, is still only available at Edward's old blog, which is therefore still worth visiting.