When I started attending League of the South conferences and events in the early 2000s, the saying was, "When the League was founded in 1994, you could have held meetings of Southern nationalists in a telephone booth."
By the time I became aware of the League some seven or eight years later, its membership was reportedly in the tens of thousands.
That was back in the days when League spokesmen said things like, "Southerners are a people, not a race," and League policy was guided by both traditional and Christian principles. There was tremendous respect for our Southern ancestors, particularly those who fought, suffered so much, and died for the cause of independence.
This pleased me because I considered myself to be both a heritage advocate and a Southern nationalist.
I became a member of the League twice, but even when I wasn't, I supported it and defended it from gratuitous attack. I rejected claims that the League was a "racist hate group" because the accusers always labeled as "racist" things that I did not define that way at all. (See here.)
Over the past year or two, though, there have been indicators that the League is changing -- radicalizing. It appears to have abandoned the counsel of wise elders to increasingly embrace the untried ideas of a younger folks.
I'm not one to automatically distrust or reject new ideas. I like innovation. But not to the extent of throwing out the proven, the reliable, the steadfast, as if it is so much trash, and embracing new ideas that are untried and whose effectiveness cannot be known.
In early summer of 2012, the League's radical new direction was brought home to me personally when I was removed without notice from the League's Facebook group following my initiating a discussion that, apparently, was not politically correct. Since then, I have watched from a distance as the League has continued to radicalize, to accept the influence of white nationalists masquerading as Southern nationalists and to slowly develop a an indifference to Southern tradition and Christianity.
The indifference to tradition is seen in the development of a "Southern nationalist flag" (a black saltaire on a white field) to use in demonstrations and protests. The disapproval of this gratuitous change seems to be wide and spreading, particularly among those who have deep respect for Confederate soldiers and their flag.
Michael Cushman of the Southern Nationalist Network, who has led the push for the new flag. reported on Facebook that there has been "push back" against it. He linked to a blog post by white nationalist Brad "Hunter Wallace" Griffin attempting to generate approval for the new flag by trashing good, decent people who oppose it with the label "Confederate Cryptkeepers."
That term now joins the infamous definitionless term, Rainbow Confederates, in the arsenal of insults these people gratuitously use against good, decent Southerners.
Griffin, btw, has asked the burning question on his blog, "Can Christianity Save us?' and by "us" he means the white race. I guess he doesn't know that the purpose of Christianity is to save souls, not races, which, one supposes, makes it irrelevant to him.....
I participated on the Facebook thread that reported the "push back" on the flag, which has now apparently been deleted, but it reinforced some insights I've only glimpsed in the past. The ridicule and derision aimed at "old" Southern nationalists by "new" ones are worthy of the most vociferous flogger.
What do they hope to gain by this practice, this tactic? Do they really expect to increase their numbers when prospective members see this sort of verbal abuse aimed at anyone who dares to deviate from the new dogma?
Basically, what you have here is people who claim to love the South and its people and want to see them free -- or preserved, depending on who's talkin'. But what they really love is whiteness, which includes a built-in aversion to non-whiteness ... and any Southerners who don't share their dedication to whiteness are heaped with scorn and derision.
Gracious. I simply note that a lot of yankees are white...
Judging by the comments I've received from time to time as my disapproval of the League's radicalization has become known, I'm certainly not the only one dismayed by this change. These folks still support independence for the South, though. There have been suggestions that maybe it's time for a new group, one that remains true to the League's original, recently jettisoned ideals.
Perhaps they're right. It will be interesting to see if the aversion to these changes for change's sake, this contempt for and derision of Southerners, produces more flight from the League, and whether a new movement or organization more attuned to true Southernism will emerge.
Is a return to League national conferences held in phone booths on the horizon? Since phone booths have pretty much disappeared since 1994, perhaps they'll have to use a bus stop shelter.
Images: Wikimedia Commons available under GNU Creative Common License.