Wednesday, February 28, 2007

WKVT 1490's Steve West Weighs In


Steve West of the Steve & Gorty morning program on Brattleboro's WKVT has posted this on his blog about his observations arising from he and Gorty's interviews of John Odum and then, days later, Second Vermont Republic's Thomas Naylor.
"In the opinion of this writer…………..Dr. Naylor’s press release/rant is paranoiac and mean-spirited, and does not indicate a person who is confident in his position. Someone who feels comfortable in their own skin can weather any kind of criticism, especially anything as “outlandish” or “presposterous” as the things Odum posted, and respond with a measure of cool and comparative aplomb."

[snip]

"Instead, I’m reading a vitriolic screed by a man defending his own anti-racism credentials (which have not been questioned), slamming the character of Mr. Odum (who he does not know), and implying that Mr. Odum’s employer should put a tighter leash on him."

"No matter what the details of this discussion……….that’s just not cool."

"Any hope of keeping the “moral high ground” that SVR and Mr. Naylor had prior to this phenomenon is gone. He has displayed some fairly childish “schoolyard bully” behaviors, and has entirely alienated at least one potential comrade to the SVR cause……….meaning me."

"Even if Odum’s posting was wildly off base and without merit……………the response was, dare I say, nasty and personal, and only tangentially addressed the issue."

[snip]

"And to Professor Naylor and others of like mind at SVR, I say……….right or wrong, I’ll stick by John Odum on this one. He has shown himself to be, in my experience, intellectually honest and well-intended. I cannot say the same of the responses I’ve read from SVR."
My guess would be that this posting and art from Steve's blog will join the growing list of media reports that SVR has stopped posting on its website.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Sad Day for Vermonters

John Odum at Green Mountain Daily has announced that he's "indefinitely" left blogging.

JDRyan at fivebeforechaos gives the rundown, as well as a spot on analysis of Second Vermont Republic's leader, Thomas H. Naylor.  For those of you who are just being made aware of this troubling development in the Vermont blogosphere and haven't been following the discussion of SVR's close ties, by way of its advisory board, to members of the white supremacist secession organization, League of the South, it's pretty creepy stuff.  JD's complete coverage of the SVR controversy can be found here.

Naylor, son of a southern segregationist governmental operative who was up to his eyeballs in making financial recommendations to the racist administration of Gov. Ross Barnett that were intended to make Mississippi's school segregation system less unattractive to the outside world [1], has had his own longstanding ties to the world of racism and white separatism, whose leaders count him as a "friend." [2]  He would have Vermonters believe that he is a different man than his father, but the difference diminishes with each step he's taken in his campaign to silence those who would bring the facts about his organization, SVR, to light.

What will he do next?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Dept. of Corrections


When I first considered creating this blog, because of what I found to be direct connections between the Second Vermont Republic organization and racist ideologues who come primarily from a white supremacist, neo-Confederate group known as the League of the South, I understood that the revelation of these ties could generate some heat.  And not surprisingly, they have.

SVR's leadership has taken a number of steps that reflect a deep misunderstanding of what matters to Vermonters.  In response to legitimate concerns expressed by many in our state about their active associations with groups like the League of the South, SVR, through its co-chair, Rob Williams, first replied by openly adopting a policy best characterized as, "Don't Ask, Don't Care."
"Is (Livingston) a racist? I don't know. And frankly, it is none of my damn business, at a personal level." [1]
Following that, on February 19 and again sometime over this weekend, SVR's leadership issued press releases that have relied on half truths, lies, wild and even delusional speculation, and a despicable, desperate personal attack on a well known Vermont blogger and his family. [2]  Naylor and Williams have charged that I have labeled people like Marco Bassini and Jason Sorens as racists. That is a lie.

Bassini has been mentioned only once on my blog, and then only in conjunction with a list of demands from another organization.  I have never written about Jason Sorens. [3]

Thomas H. Naylor and Williams charge that I rely "solely" on the well respected defender of civil and legal rights, the Southern Poverty Law Center, as my source.  That too is a lie.  One need only look at my very first citation from a source on this blog that was about LoS's avowed racist president, J. Michael Hill, to see that this is not true. [4]

Naylor and Williams also incorrectly allege that the "federal government imprisoned" Franklin Sanders "for tax resistance."  That too is more of SVR's bull in lieu of the real facts.  While Sanders also has been arrested in the past by federal authorities on different charges than the ones that I brought to light, the only imprisonment that I am aware of is that imposed by his fellow Tennesseans for his poorly thought out sales tax scheme that meant to deny the state legitimate tax revenue for the benefit of his customers, not some lofty "tax resistance" as team Naylor and Williams would spin it. Sanders is a mere criminal and nothing more. [5]

I don't intend to spend my time on this blog tracking and revealing all of the misstatements, lies and misrepresentations of fact and substance made by Naylor and his would-be spin meister, the so-called "media expert," Rob Williams, in response to what I post here - that would be a neverending task - but I do insist that they issue an immediate correction to these blatant lies.

Naylor and Williams should understand that Vermonters just aren't buying their dissembling. [6]  They are truly clueless about the damage that they have done and continue to do to their own reputations and that of their organization's.

I also don't seriously expect them to comply and issue the appropriate, unqualified corrections since Naylor and Williams have adopted the iron-fisted leadership style similar to that of the racists at LoS and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and have begun to purge the not-so-true believers from their ranks. [7] [8] [9]

While Naylor and Williams have routinely paid lip service to the notion that they wish "to dialogue" with Vermonters, they have in fact cancelled an important opportunity to do so because they fear that Vermonters would ask them hard questions this coming Sunday about their peculiar associations.  I am not the only Vermonter to note the irony of their replacement event, a funeral. [10] [11]  I mean, really, what was this self-described "think-tank" thinking when the substituted a real occasion for dialogue with a (as one friend might describe it) a Ruritanian stunt?

For a good deal more insight into Thomas H. Naylor's views on "white" Vermont, integration and race in general, I would strongly urge you to read yesterday's post at one of the other sources that I have often relied on in this discussion about secession, secessionists and what it is that Naylor and the SVR would like Vermonters not to know about them.  Here's but a small sample of what that blogger has found:
"In the opening paragraph (Naylor) states, "Since the 1960s the official policy of the U.S. government has been the forced racial integration of public schools, colleges and universities, public accommodations, restaurants, stores, and more recently the workplace." Segregation was forced in some states, with state laws mandating it. Also, who is being forced? Most Americans go to stores, restaurants, workplaces, etc. that are integrated, and don't feel forced, that they have to go to integrated places against their will, because they aren't segregationists. Being forced is the terminology of a segregationist."

"Then Naylor states, "Although this commitment to racial integration once enjoyed broad-based public support, today an increasing number of whites, blacks, and Hispanics have either become ambivalent or hostile to forced integration." The fact is that the overwhelming majority of Americans of all races support integration. "an increasing number" doesn't really say anything, is it 48 people increasing to 79 people? There is a growing awareness that integration is perhaps only the first step to solving racial issues in America, is that the "ambivalent" that Naylor lumps with "hostile?"
Vermonters have long welcomed newcomers like Naylor who hold disparate views on matters even as contentious as race, but Naylor is fast wearing out that welcome in his increasingly apparent plan to radically alter Vermont society, so that Vermont becomes a stalking-horse for the secessionist goals of white separatist groups like the League of the South.  Is it any wonder that the advisory board out-of-state membership of SVR has been packed with LoS types?

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mississippi Sovereignty Commission (UPDATE below)

Late yesterday this post appeared on the neo-Confederate monitoring site, Anti-Neo-Confederate.

The information provided there is consistent with that which had been reported to me last week and again over the weekend from sources within and outside the state of Vermont.

Early in the period of American history when school de-segregation was a new issue, an agency was created by the state of Mississippi to monitor the activities of civil rights groups and activists, and to cast a positive light on school segregation in the South.  It was called the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission. [1]

The commission existed from 1956 until 1977.  In 1977 state lawmakers sealed the commissions files until 2027.  As a result of an ACLU lawsuit, the state was ordered to open the records by US District Court Judge William H. Barbour, Jr in 1989.  After a delay due to legal challenges of that order, the files became available online to the public in March of 1998. [2]

Among the documents now available for public inspection are a number pertaining to Thomas H. Naylor of the Education Finance Commission, including this 1960 letter to Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett from Sovereignty Commission Director Albert Jones.  Jones describes the conclusions and recommendations of Naylor and Attorney General Patterson regarding funding issues for a segregated school in Montgomery County, MS. [3]

There is also a 1964 letter from T. H. Naylor, Jr., then Executive Secretary of the Education Finance Commission to the then current Sovereignty Commission Director, Erle Johnston, regarding a paper that that Naylor had written for an upcoming pamphlet the Sovereignty Commission was creating for the Mississippi School Construction Program. [4] [5] [6]

There are numerous other Thomas H. Naylor (also: T.H. Naylor, Jr; T.H. Naylor; Tommie Naylor; Tommy Naylor; Tommy H. Naylor) documents listed as on file in the electronic archive of the Sovereignty Commission. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]

UPDATE (11:31AM):  During a one hour interview today on the Steve & Gordy program (11:00 AM - 12:00 PM) on AM 1490 WKVT, Thomas H. Naylor, founder of SVR, identified the Thomas H. Naylor named above in Mississippi Sovereignty Commission documents as his father, now deceased.

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Things fall apart; the center cannot hold"

In what is becoming a series of fast breaking developments in the Second Vermont Republic affair, "Vermont Commons" contributing editor, Robert Riversong, has been shown the door:
Who "Owns" the Second Vermont Republic?
Submitted by Robert Riversong on Mon, 02/19/2007 - 12:28pm.

Apparently the Second Vermont Republic (SVR), its sister publication the Vermont Commons (VC), and the movement-at-large toward peaceable secession is gaining enough traction and credibility that it is now being attacked by its erstwhile supporters - "progressive" groups and bloggers.

This issue has been well addressed in the VC blog, by me and others. But there is another attack on the Vermont secession movement which hasn't yet been either acknowledge or addressed - and that is an attack from within.

Among the stated goals of the SVR are "power-sharing" and "mutuality", code words for what most of us would consider democracy in its local, decentralist form. And yet the "co-chairs" of the SVR have chosen to exercise a rather exclusivist control over both the nature of the organization and it's public statements.

Granted, Thomas Naylor gave birth to SVR and remains its "elder statesman" and Rob Williams has put in a yeoman effort to move it forward toward media recognition and credibility. But neither of them have accomplished this alone. There has been a small core of dedicated individuals, varying in number and composition over time, which has guided and contributed significantly to the current credibility that the SVR enjoys. In fact, SVR and VC simply would not exist in their current forms without them.

The Vermont Commons, when it was a monthly publication which was overwhelming the time and energy of its small group of editors and publishers, invited a larger group of Vermonters to become "contributing editors" – and I was one, having contributed as a writer. Then we were informed that we were "consulting editors", assisting not necessarily with writing contributions but as advisors to the publication. When the VC became a quarterly which could more easily be managed by its core editorial group, we "consulting editors" were changed back to "contributing editors" without any consultation from this larger group and have not been invited to participate in editorial decisions or even help with proof-reading and editing articles – a decision which, I believe, has resulted in a decline in the editorial quality of the paper.

SVR has occasionally rethought its mission and purpose, trying at one time to become an organizing hub for the kind of grass-roots movement that is the sine-qua-non of a successful secession trajectory. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, this effort collapsed and the SVR returned to being a "voluntary association" or, as Rob Williams has suggested, a "civic club".

The term "civic club" has always suggested exclusiveness to me (old white men lounging on stuffed chairs smoking their pipes), and the reality of the SVR at this time supports that perception.

Ironically, this internal division arose as a result of the external attack on SVR as a "racist" organization, or at least one which consorts with racists, white supremacists, and neo-confederate Christian theocrats. Unfortunately, there is some truth in those allegations, since the SVR has chosen to include on its advisory board and to invite to our table those who are associated with such movements. And it has done so with very little input from the larger activist secession community.

Even with the newly-published disclaimer that such associations are only because of the common interest in peaceable secession, there is a danger that such relationships will taint Vermont's secession movement, as indeed this current controversy has born out.

I, for one, had already been arguing that we should draw a firewall between SVR and individuals or groups with publicly-stated philosophies that are antithetical to SVR's and to Vermont's tradition of tolerance.

Given that among the SVR/VC core group there were a diversity of concerns and opinions about how best to respond to the critique and the demands being circulated in cyberspace, I suggested that we get together to forge a collective response, and that we do so by consensus – the only decision-making process which empowers all participants and which guarantees the highest-good outcome.

At the same time, I was suggesting that it was time to transmute the mission of the SVR from a "think tank", talking about secession, to an activist organization making secession a reality by organizing Vermonters in every town and hamlet, by actually implementing our "200 Towns by 2012" campaign.

An initial openness to a consideration of "morphing" SVR's mission was quickly replaced with an autocratic determination by one of its co-chairs (apparently in consultation with the other) to not only limit SVR to its current "civic club" status but to assume the right to issue a public response to the outside attacks without any kind of consensus of the core group.

That public statement, issued as a press release and prominently on the SVR website, was well-articulated and thorough. That is not the issue. The SVR leaders are capable men. The issue was that they chose – in fact asserted unequivocally – the exclusive right to do this on their own.

What was even worse was that this co-chair (an inappropriate term as he was acting as CEO), suggested that if I didn't like the form or function of SVR I was welcome to start my own secession organization. What this "invitation" meant was that the two current "executives" of the SVR, in consultation with whomever they pleased and excluding whomever they pleased, would exercise sole and exclusive control over the organization, and it would remain true to their private visions.

Thus, the current credibility and public recognition of SVR/VC, created by the collective efforts of dozens of individuals was to be "owned" exclusively by two people. If there is to be a grass-roots organizing effort towards actually realizing secession in Vermont, it would have to be created ex nihilo as a separate organization with, at best, the indirect recognition of being a "sister" or "daughter" spin-off of SVR and enjoying a link on their website.

I am of the firm opinion that such exclusive ownership of the collective effort not only undermines any likelihood of positive movement toward Vermont secession, but also violates the foundational values upon which we claim to build this movement.

If the process of Vermont's movement toward secession - the means - don't thoroughly reflect its stated goals - the ends - then we will only recreate yet another form of organized oppression, as most so-called "revolutions" (including the American Revolution) have done.

If Vermont's secession movement is intended to give birth to a decentralist, mutualist, authentically democratic and inclusive civic society, then those individuals and groups working toward that end must embody those values and become an example of their efficacy.

Robert Riversong's blog

SVR co-chair Rob Williams responds:

On ownership, history, and generosity of spirit

Hi Robert,
Thanks for blogging, as always.

You are entitled, of course, to your own interpretation of the past 4 years of SVR and VC history, as well as the motives and goals of SVR and VC's founders.
I would respectfully disagree with much of what you say here, in terms of both your tone and your "read" of both the historical and organizational contexts for our two groups.

But I am no longer willing to engage in a "debate" with you in either this forum, or online.

One thing I have learned in doing this work is that a face-to-face conversation in the community of others who share one's vision and passion is best.

And, as we have recently learned, blog forums can be used to easily twist larger truths, and e-mail messages are often misinterpreted, in terms of both tone and context.

See you around the Valley, neighbor.

Free Vermont,

Rob
Submitted by Rob Williams on Mon, 02/19/2007 - 2:42pm.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

SVR Advisory Board Member Kirkpatrick Sale Vows To Maintain Ties to White Supremacists of the League of the South

In what I can only describe as a bizarre development over this weekend, Kirkpatrick Sale, an Advisory Board member of Second Vermont Republic, contributor to the publication "Vermont Commons" and director of the Middlebury Institute, a self described "umbrella" organization to a variety of groups advocating secession from the United States that include racists, anti-Semites, misogynists, homophobes and white supremacists, has reaffirmed a commitment to partner with the League of the South, a documentably racist and white supremacist organization.

To Sale, the racist attitudes and agenda of some of his secessionist colleagues, and the potential consequences to his fellow citizens, is of no importance.  Not every Vermonter will share this cavalier attitude.

Remarkably, Sale has further revealed that his group intends to co-sponsor a convention later this year with the LoS.  It is unclear from his statement at the SVR website if SVR itself intends to maintain such strong ties to the racist elements of the secessionist movement that Vermonters of a broad cross section of political persuasions have demanded be severed.

ON COLLEGIALITY
Author: The Middlebury Institute (Kirkpatrick Sale)

A statement about who are colleagues and allies, what it means to be part of a movement, and how to regard the League of the South.

Concern has arisen in some quarters in recent weeks regarding secessionist organizations that express values—or are charged with expressing values—that others do not like, and questions have been raised about alliances with such groups. The Middlebury Institute would like to establish a basic response to such concerns and questions.

First, the secessionist movement is made up of organizations of many different kinds that are alike in their advocacy of secession—of secession in general and of secession of their particular part of the planet. That is what makes them colleagues and allies—because in this difficult task of making secession and separatism a legitimate political goal they stand shoulder to shoulder with each other.

Second, it is not up to any organization in the movement (or its friends) to judge the attitudes, philosophies, or beliefs of others. While one would hope to have those compatible with one’s own, it must be understood that different people in different places will have different ideas, desires, goals, and strategies—that, after all, is the whole point of secession. A group is for secession precisely because it does not want to be part of a larger entity whose beliefs and actions it does not like, and wishes to live free on its own terms.

Third, the kind of people who insist on telling others how to live and think so as to have one unanimous right-minded uniformity are dangerous people and precisely the kind that establish national governments and pass laws applicable to entire populations. Fascism is one obvious and ugly form of this, but mass industrial democracy is a similar, if often more benign, form. And it is exactly this that secession and separatism are opposed to.

Fourth, as to the League of the South, it is demonstrable that as an organization it is not racist and would not establish a racist state if they were successful in secession. (The official position of the LOS on this matter is added below as an appendix.) The Middlebury Institute has offered to be a co-sponsor with the LOS of the next Secessionist Convention this year squarely because it believes it to be an honorable and legitimate—and non-racist—organization sincerely and intelligently devoted to peaceful secession from the empire.

We accept the fact that there may be people in the LOS who have expressed intemperate and intolerant opinions—but of what group, we ask, could that not be said? (And the scare-mongering charges along these lines by the Southern Poverty Law Center have much more to do with its desire to squeeze money out of people made to be afraid of hobgoblins than by any genuine exposure of misbehavior.] Moreover, even if there are, as individuals, LOS people we could from our point of view deem racist, that would matter not one whit as to whether they were legitimate colleagues in the secessionist movement. It is irrelevant.

People turn to secession because they want their own form of government, on their own terms, and hope to create a state that will live out their beliefs, principles, ideals. It is no more justifiable for one organization to question or criticize or castigate those goals if they work toward a Christian-directed government that outlaws abortion and adultery than if they work for a secular democracy favoring gun-control and same-sex marriages. The beauty of secession is that it looks toward having a world where those and many other kinds of states can exist, free and independent, and not impose its ideas on others or have others’ ideas imposed on it.

Ultimately we in the secessionist movement stand divided, but we stand together. We believe in secession, each of us, and though the ends we work for may be different—and what a thriving, vibrant, multi-variant world that would bring us to—the means we use unites us all.

Kirkpatrick Sale

Director,
Middlebury Institute February, 2007   [1]

Friday, February 16, 2007

Vermont Guardian Calls on SVR to Break Its Ties With Racist Ideologues

In junction with a largely accurate summation of the central issue being raised here and on other blogs, the Vermont Guardian has called on the Vermont secessionist group, Second Vermont Republic, and its companion organization, "Vermont Commons", to break ties with white supremacist groups such as the League of the South.
"While guilt by association is often a slippery slope, in this case what is equally as disturbing as intelligent, well-meaning Vermonters relying on racists to think about ways to secede is the response from SVR supporters when these disturbing facts are brought to light."
[...]
"But, they are quick to dismiss the racist beliefs of these “advisors” who have links to documented hate groups in the South."
[...]
"... we believe that is in the best interest of SVR and the Vermont Commons to disassociate themselves from people connected with secession as a way to prove a Christian identity or racial purity through organizations such as the League of the South."  [1]
The "guilt by association" meme is one created solely by the leadership and supporters of SVR.  Rather than post immediately about the editorial and the entirely false notion about having charged SVR's of "guilt by association", I also wanted to take the time to look back at who might, in fact, have said that SVR, or its membership, was racist.

Unfortunately, that canard about "guilt by association" found its way into the editorial but that's not to be completely unexpected given all that's been written about SVR and its direct ties to white supremacists and their organizations.  The meme first wove itself into the discussion about SVR's numerous, easily documentable connections to known white supremacists and anti-labor, anti-civil rights writers and ideologues in an opinion/response piece written by Robert Riversong, a VTCommons contributing editor, in the comments section at Green Mountain Daily [2], a half day after a now embarrassingly adamant denial by an SVR founder, Jim Hogue, of any affiliation with a racist organization [3], and that Riversong then re-posted at the Vermont Commons blog titled "Guilt By Association." [4]  Hogue and Riversong also denied, in a way that implied that such a charge was being made, that SVR was in any way a racist organization.  That charge has not been made by me or by any other blogger that I am aware of.

For the sake of accuracy and clarity, I would point out that since the day that this blog went live, both SVR and VTCommons are in the links section that is not designated for "neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi, Paleoconservative, Racist, White Separatist, and Related Links."  Have I found anything, to date, that would indicate that they are racist?  No.  Defensive perhaps to the point of maliciousness but certainly nothing yet from which I would infer that they are racist.  Are they in bed with racists by way of their affiliations, publication and advisory board?  On that there can be no doubt.

I will now add my own voice to that of the growing number of my fellow Vermonters and ask that the leadership of SVR and VTCommons recant their commitment to maintaining their admitted association with white supremacist organizations like the League of the South, either directly or indirectly, and white supremacist, anti-civil rights, and anti-labor writers, ideologues and activists.  If they expect to continue in a leadership role that they have assumed for themselves in Vermont's secession discussion, it's the very least they should be willing to do to restore some credibility for themselves.  An apology to those that they have maligned in their shrill, misleading defenses might not also be a bad idea to consider, as well.

five before chaos' Second Vermont Republic
Compendium        


JDRyan's posts on the Second Vermont Republic matter can be found here.          Nice.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thomas Naylor and His Early pre-SVR Ties to the neo-Confederates


When I first began to look a few weeks ago at the secession movement here in Vermont and some of its members and advisers ties to neo-Confederate hate groups such as the League of the South and the Sons of Confederate Veterans [1] [2], it struck me that the organization here also had strategic similarities to those groups.  The response of the supporters of Second Vermont Republic to the revelations on this and other blogs has been to unjustifiably smear hate group monitoring organizations and to minimize the importance of the connections and involvement of SVR leadership and advisers to white supremacists and extremists in the neo-Confederate movement, much as the southern secessionist organizations commonly do when they encounter such charges.

Such charges were more easily made decades ago because of the often extreme behavior of the movement's members.  In the 1990's a newer leadership took hold of the, by then, faltering groups and organizations.  This new leadership understood that in order for the committed white supremacists to ever have a chance to advance The Cause, the groups would have to improve their image, although not necessarily their objectives.  The League of the South was one such group that I've spoken at length about here.

A lesser know group, but by no means less important to the secession discussion, is the hate group Sons of Confederate Veterans.  The past few years have been strife ridden ones for the SCV with the result being that the more radical, racialist elements have taken control. One of the principals involved in the leadership uphevel at SCV is Ron Holland.  Ron Holland is the editor of Dixie Daily News, a member of the League of the South and a former leader of the Southern Party. [3] [4] Holland is also a founder of the Southern Party. [5]  An important founding document of the Southern Party is the Ashville Declaration in which Naylor and Donald Livingston are referenced. [6]  The Southern Party was a political party that grew from the Southern Nationalist Movement and most secessionist promotions of the party pointed to its organization and development by southern "scholars," a term we hear used often by SVR when describing their own advisers. [7]  At Holland's website I found this brief reference to his friendship, not merely an association, with Thomas Naylor, founder of Second Vermont Republic. [8]

I also found this reference to a panel at a LoS conference in 2000 that Holland served on with the racist, J. Michael Hill:
"... Dr. Michael Hill “The Evils of a Watchdog Group: the SPLC and the League” Dr. Hill recaps the recent “hate group” report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, citing examples of ignorance and hate from those people. Reports from Jeff McCormick & Ron Holland"
These criticisms are nearly identical to those now being leveled by the leadership of SVR at SPLC as a result of connections now being documented here by way of SPLC Intelligence Reports on the white supremacists at LoS.

One early reference to Naylor's thoughts, years before his founding of SVR, on the LoS's creation, the Southern Party, came from an AP story shortly after the party's creation:

"Thomas Naylor, professor emeritus of economics at Duke University in Durham, thinks the Southern Party is right on. In fact, he thinks his adopted state of Vermont should band with New Hampshire and Maine and join Canada's Maritime provinces, which he believes have more in common with each other than with, say, California or Texas.

"The government is too big because the whole damn country is too big," says Naylor, co-author of the 1997 book "Downsizing the U.S.A."
- June 25, 1999 [9]
Continuing his earlier close relationship with LoS and its members [10] , as recently October 2, 2006 Naylor appeared on a League of the South Conference schedule with such notable neo-Confederates as J. Michael Hill and conference fundraiser and interim Tennessesse LoS Chairman Franklin Sanders. [11] [12]

The searches above were made using only the most rudimentary of search tools, a Google or Google cache. There were many more similar finds with additional primary figures in the neo-Confederate movement.  The above represent an outline of the period covering change and development of white separatist, and essentially theocratic, southern secessionist groups.  Naylor was there.  Taken alone, any one of these facts means little but, when looked at over the years, this circle of relationships and associations with such a close group of racist ideologues certainly raises the question of how tightly bound the founder of the Second Vermont Republic is to the white supremacist community.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Reactions and a New Development (UPDATES at bottom)

The initial reaction to the revelations here and at other blogs that white supremacists, anti-labor forces and representatives from a neo-Confederate think-tank are serving in an prominent advisory capacity [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] to Second Vermont Republic and its sister organization, "Vermont Commons" was not unexpected.  Vermonters are objecting to the influence of such outside advisers that seem to come from only one end of the spectrum - that of white supremacy.  Comments on this and other blogs reflect that concern. [8] [9]

The response from SVR members and supporters has run the gamut from outrage, smears and denials [10] [11], to this downright silly rant.

One new development comes from a group, the Green Mountain Collective, that had previously worked with members of SVR in opposition to anti-immigrant elements that had come to Vermont. They now call on SVR to do the following:
"1. The immediate dismissal from SRV’s advisory board of Thomas Dirolenzo (for extreme anti-worker, anti-union views) & Marco Basani (for his connections to the extremist, anti-immigrant, Northern League of Italy).

2. The official cutting of relations between SRV and the neo-Confederate League of the South, as well as any other organizations with ties to right-wing extremists, racists, and/or neo-fascists. The weblink on the SVR website must be deleted.

3. A statement from the SVR recognizing a workers’ right to form unions and the historical necessity for workers to do such insofar as democracy and economic equality are goals which are socially desirable.

4. A statement from the SVR that reaffirms their complete opposition to racism, fascism, bigotry and discrimination.

5. These statements should be posted on the SVR website, and should be printed in the Vermont Commons (which is a sister organization of SVR)"
[12]
About two hours before this statement first appeared at Green Mountain Daily, there was another statement issued on the Vermont Commons blog by their publication's Subscriptions Manager, J. Arthur Loose.  He posted Outside the Box yesterday as a follow-up piece to his initial reaction blog post this past Saturday, Republicratic Death Rattles, and it appears to confirm and endorse an earlier statement of position issued by SVR Co-chair, Rob Williams.  Williams doesn't seem to feel much concern about associating with or working in concert with racist, neo-Confederate, white supremacist operatives.
"Is (Donald Livingston) a racist? I don't know. And frankly, it is none of my damn business, at a personal level. But I DO know that I've learned more about secession globally and historically from reading his work and talking with him than I have from anyone else I've ever met - and we will continue to publish his work as long as I am editor of Vermont Commons." [13]
- Rob Williams, Vermont Commons blog, 2.11.07
Loose takes that position and expands on it to include others who would oppose full civil rights for all Vermonters, the old Take Back Vermont crowd.  Unless I'm mistaken, he doesn't feel that, in fairness, those who would deny basic rights and liberties provided for under Vermont's constitution to their neighbors should necessarily be considered "malicious."  He would now even "trust" them.  Does he really think that Vermont's lesbian and gay community will share in that sort of naiveté and trust that the Take Back Vermont crowd won't attempt to advance their agenda in such a new Vermont?  Does he really expect that anyone would be willing to contemplate "compromise" on their civil liberties, or anyone else's for that matter, for the sake of secession?
If we're ever to succeed in seceeding (sic), we are going to have to get past this psychotic, neurotic, black and white thinking and really compromise. We're going to have to understand that secession isn't about creating the government that you want, or the government that I want, but the government that we ALL want. Together. We're going to have to consciously resist those who would divide and conquer us, and they most certainly will try.

That's frightening, even for me. But I trust Vermonters. Even the ones who want to take it back.
- J. Arthur Loose, Vermont Commons blog, 2.13.07
It's now seems now that instead of finding a way out of the hole that it's gotten itself into, the SVR leadership has decided to dig down a little bit deeper.

UPDATE: (1)  There is a one hour interview (11-12) of John Odum on this whole matter scheduled for this morning with Steve West & Gorty Baldwin on WKVT in Brattleboro.  I'll put the link up to it should it become available.

(2)  Podcast of WKVT Brattleboro Live and Local program interview of John Odum this morning is now available via Green Mountain Daily.

(3)  Even more still from JDRyan at FBC where he really lays down his cards.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Rob Williams, SVR Co-Chair, Breaks Silence

Nearly three and a half days after I first revealed that Second Vermont Republic and its companion publication, "Vermont Commons", had direct and documentable ties to racist ideologues and their organizations that have been identified as hate groups by several reputable monitoring groups, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the website, Anti-Neo-Confederate, by way of SVR's advisory board and in its published articles, Rob Williams, SVR Co-chair has finally begun to address some of the issues that Vermonters have a right to raise questions about, particularly since secession from the United States would radically alter every Vermonter's life.

In its tone and substance, Williams' high-sounding message is at times sarcastic, insistent, condescending, seemingly angry at points, bombastic and incorrect.  Many of the concerns and factual observations expressed here and elsewhere remain unanswered.
Dear Mr. Odum (or, "Please stop blogging from the hip")
- One Response to GMD's attacks on SVR and VC


Submitted by Rob Williams on Sun, 02/11/2007 - 9:02pm.

Dear Mr. Odum,

I'd love to address this note to you personally, but as you appear to be posting your attacks on our group anonymously on your Green Mountain Daily blog, and without bothering to talk with anyone involved with the Second Vermont Republic or Vermont Commons before making your allegations, I guess I must simply call you "Mr. Odum."

Implying that SVR is "racist" is absurd on its face. Rather than taking the time to read our publications carefully, you are simply engaging, as so many bloggers like to do, in a smear campaign by dragging up dribs and drabs and factoids of information without any context etc. This sort of thing happens all the time in the media/political world - disappointing, though, to see it happen here in our own Green Mountains.

Just a few points in response to your allegations, Mr. Odum (and again, it would be much more pleasant to dialogue about this face to face):

1. Secession is an AMERICAN impulse, NOT a southern impulse exclusively, and the US was founded on the principle of secession. This is a historical fact. Read the 1776 Declaration of Independence (written by a slave-holding Southerner, remember?), the 1787 U.S. Constitution, and the 1791 Bill of Rights.

2. Secession BEGAN as a SERIOUS conversation in New England, NOT in the south. This, also, is a historical fact.

3. Southerners, who are, after all, Americans under the current regime, make an IMPORTANT ARGUMENT when they make the case for sovereignty and secession, and joining them in a conversation about considering the case for secession does NOT make me, or you, or anyone else a "fundamentalist" or a "racist," any more than supporting the protection of the KKK's free speech right to preach hatred and bigotry makes one a hater and a bigot. And the SVR leadership is well aware of the tensions here - and has chosen to engage them, rather than to shy away from them - to our credit, I believe.

4. We Americans have been conditioned FROM DAY 1 to associate secession with slavery and racism - and I notice, Mr. Odum, that you appear to have little understanding of Mr. Lincoln's truly radical impulses - here was an ambitious corporate railroad lawyer, the co-founder of the modern GOP, who unmade the original Union as a loose confederation of sovereign states and remade it as a modern unitary nation-state/empire - on the backs of 620,000 dead and the US Constitution. We're not interested in "Lincoln bashing," but we ARE interested in a deeper understanding of the fundamental importance of the so-called "Civil War" as THE pivotal turning point in this nation's history - though not for reasons most believe. Again, we've written extensively on this topic - I urge you to visit our online archives at this web site.

5. While we've consulted with a wide variety of legal, historical and scholarly minds on secession questions - Minnesota's Jack Graham, for example - some of our secession scholars - Don Livingston, for example - happen to be southerners. Anyone who has met and talked with Don knows the man is thoughtful and well-studied. Is he a racist? I don't know. And frankly, it is none of my damn business, at a personal level. But I DO know that I've learned more about secession globally and historically from reading his work and talking with him than I have from anyone else I've ever met - and we will continue to publish his work as long as I am editor of Vermont Commons.

6. We at SVR are for secession, and do not, in the spirit of tolerance that has long shaped the character of Vermonters, judge the attitudes, philosophies, or beliefs of others who are, also. We believe that it is up to others to decide how they want to live, just as it is up to ourselves here in Vermont to determing how WE wish to live. While all of us do not, by any stretch, agree with some of the goals, ideologies or conclusions of some of our secession-minded colleagues, either in the southern part of the United States or around the world, all of us share a common interest in the principle of secession as a viable historical and constitutional response to the problems plaguing the 21st United States as a an Empire.

So next time, Mr. Odum, you decide to write about us, I urge you to spend some time in dialogue with us, and get your facts straight, before blogging from the hip.

Sincerely,

Rob Williams
Editor, Vermont Commons [1]
More to come?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Thomas J. DiLorenzo - SVR Advisory Board Member revisited


In my post below I provided some background on Second Vermont Republic advisory board member Thomas J. DiLorenzo's earlier work for Big Tobacco.  I also suggest that he has a somewhat comparative goal in the bizarro alternative histories and essays that he's been churning out in print and on the web, in addition to lecturing about, on Abraham Lincoln.  He's really turned it into quite an industry.  Even I can admire the entrepreneurial skill necessary to generate income from something that is basically nothing.

But there's an even darker side to this prominent advisor to Vermont's secession discussion.

As I read through the archive of his essays at LewRockwell.com [1] I came across a few of his thoughts on issues besides his very apparent Lincoln obsession.  One, called "Hurrah for 'Sweat Shops' - They help the poor, among their other virtues," or "How 'Sweatshops' Help the Poor," boils down essentially to an offshore tactic for union busting in America. [2]

He's also written an essay called the "Truth About the 14th Amendment." [3]  That's the amendment with those pesky civil rights, citizenship/voting rights and due process rights that led to the end of previously legal segregation.  He believes that an argument can be made for its abolition, and that's important to white separatists like those in the League of the South and the Sons of Confederate Veterans with whom he's so deeply involved. [4] [5]

Certainly SVR could not have know that he is a frequent poster on a neo-Nazi, jew baiting messageboard at the Vanguard News Network [6]

Here's how the ADL has described Alex Linder's Vanguard News Network
"The Web site consists of two parts: a news section, where Linder posts news articles and opinion pieces of relevance to white supremacists, and an online message forum, where white supremacists from around the world can post messages and engage in on-line discussions and debates."

"The ideology that Linder has sought to infuse into his site is exemplified by VNN's header: "No Jews, Just Right." [6]


DiLorenzo's posts at VNN don't descend into the crude racial and anti-Semetic slurs that are common on these sites.  He's to much of a scholarly, condescending Uptown Klan kinda guy to engage in that sort of thing.  He merely drops in from time to time to toss a bit of red-meat to the more expressive types, and to Linder, that confirms their worldview. [7]

Second Vermont Republic Responds

Since the the revelations of various connections and direct associations that Second Vermont Republic has with a hate group, the League of the South, [1] [2] [3] [4] as well as with some of its members and at least one member of a hate group called the Sons of Confederate Veterans [5] [6] [7] who serves on the advisory board for the SVR that have been made at this blog and others since Thursday morning, SVR has published statements on the matter at its Vermont Commons blog here, here and here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Just a word or two... (UPDATE at bottom)

... about the commotion that's ensued at odum's well thought out post on Green Mountain Daily.  I'm glad to see the discussion begin on the strong racist ties of some Second Vermont Republic advisory board members.  That's been a matter of great concern to me, and I know that it is to many others.  Dismissive, off-point denials coupled with baseless allegations [1] [2] [3] about one of the premier hate monitoring groups in the country are really quite beside the point, and are very easily disposed of, as JDRyan has done. [4] [5]   He has more at his blog.

I am glad to see, at the very least, that two of the principals at SVR are stepping forward to participate in this discussion.  That's a good thing.  Hopefully, SVR will be open to considering the concerns of their fellow Vermonters and address some of the facts that I will continue to present, rather than responding only to charges that have not even been made and flinging red herrings.  I think that Vermonters are more than capable of having a discussion about secession without direction from people who are directly tied to racists, white supremacists, anti-Semites and what I like to call Uptown Klansmen.  Unless, of course, that offer of SVR's made elsewhere to have a discussion isn't so genuine.  I, and I'm speaking only for myself, have had about my fill of self-appointed "Deciders" in this life.

UPDATE:  More from JDRyan.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo - SVR Advisory Board Member


As odum has noted in his post at Green Mountain Daily, there's a lot of ground that I intend to cover on one particular SVR advisory board member.  I’d like to add a little more in one area on that member today, that being to the Second Vermont Republic advisory board member Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s rather slim entry on the SVR's advisory board website page that reads,
“Professor of Economics, Loyola College, and author of The Real Lincoln.”
To start, there's this from the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, "The Ideologues:"
"DiLorenzo is also a senior faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a hard-right libertarian foundation in Alabama, and teaches at the League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History, a South Carolina school established by the League of the South to teach its unusual views of history." [1]
I've also learned from SourceWatch that earlier on, DiLorenzo had worked as an academic hatchet man for Big Tobacco. [2]  Working with Thomas T. Bennett he assisted in formulating a plan intended to undermine the work of the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association, in conjunction with work being done by the Capital Research Center.  I should also note that the CRC has launched similar baseless funding broadsides against “liberal” civil rights advocacy organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center [3] and it became embroiled in its own controversy over its funding while launching attacks on health advocacy groups. [4]  CRC receives the bulk of its funding from the Sarah Scaife Foundation, controlled by the right wing money bag, Richard Mellon Scaife
“In December 1993… Thomas J. DiLorenzo, a professor of economics at the Chattanooga campus of the University of Tennessee penned a proposal to R.J. Reynolds. (His) first report, (he) state(s), "revealed for the first time that so-called health research charities have a far broader and more insidious agenda than sponsoring research on disease and aiding the afflicted, which are the basis of their fundraising appeals to the American public".

According to… DiLorenzo, "there is a large and growing commitment to political advocacy aimed principally at anti-smoking legislation" amongst such charities. What (he) proposed was to trawl through lobbying disclosure forms of the Lung, Cancer and Heart Associations in California and Masschussetts in the hope that a "'credibility gap' can be created to undermine the public image of these groups".

"Our work will be aimed at the general public and specifically at the donors who support health charities with their contributions," (he) proposed. With CRC (he) suggested they would produce a series of reports and, based on those, spin off a series of op-eds and articles for the media.

… DiLorenzo stressed that what (he) proposed would not be dispassionate research work. "Our ultimate goal is twofold: (1) to discredit the voluntary health agencies in the minds of the public so that they are forced to return to their charitable 'roots' and abandon political advocacy and (2) to raise so many questions about the true goals and objectives of health charities that the media will take up the task of investigating these groups.'" [5]
DiLorenzo is better known today for his revisionist histories of Abraham Lincoln, "The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War" (March 2002) and "Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know about Dishonest Abe" (October 2006).

Lincoln historical revisionism is one of the pillars of secessionist theory and there has been a lot written about this tactic and its being so necessary to the successful argument for secession. [6]

Unfortunately for the secessionists, they’re about the only ones who're buying into its silliness.  SVR's founder and co-chair, Thomas Naylor, has written a glowing review of DiLorenzo's most recent revisionist history:
Dishonest Abe
Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Lincoln Unmasked. New York: Crown Forum, 2006, 223 pp., $22.95
"SVR Advisory Board Member Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s latest book Lincoln Unmasked lays to rest once and for all the myth that Abraham Lincoln was our best president. Indeed, DiLorenzo provides substantial evidence to suggest that if Lincoln was not our worst president, he was surely our most dishonest head of state.
[...]
Lincoln Unmasked is much more hard-hitting than its predecessor, The Real Lincoln.
[...]
Lincoln Unmasked is a must read book for any one seriously interested in secession and the peaceful dissolution of the Empire."

Thomas H. Naylor
November 1, 2006 [7]
SVR’s co-chair, Rob Williams, a Champlain College educator, has similarly climbed aboard the Lincoln revisionist bandwagon with his own favorable review of DiLorenzo's "The Real Lincoln."  It is one of the few reviews that I could find that hadn't been churned out by some associate of DiLorenzo's at the Abbeville Institute or the Ludwig von Mises Institute or the League of the South or some other group that he's connected with.  In Williams' review he gets right down to the necessary business of attacking the Lincoln myth:
"For any Vermonter (or American) considering the “secession question,” the mythology surrounding Abraham Lincoln is mighty indeed.
[...]
How could anyone but the disgruntled great-grandnephews of slave-loving Southerners possibly challenge Lincoln’s political legacy or his hold on our popular imagination?[...]
Yet Loyola College professor of economics Thomas DiLorenzo does just this, in his provocative book The Real Lincoln.  DiLorenzo argues that... (much, much more of the same)
[...]
As DiLorenzo shows, Lincoln and Clay’s “American System” proved demonstrably anti-capitalist, generated stupendous corruption, and further cemented the alliance between an emerging corporate class and national political leaders. Sound familiar?
But Lincoln’s great genius in his own time was using the Civil War as bloody vehicle for solidifying the American System as the United States’ dominant economic model.
[...]
DiLorenzo’s book raises important questions about one of America’s most powerful political leaders, questions that take on a new urgency in an age which Lincoln himself set in motion, one of unbridled corporate power, militarism, violence, and Empire-building. And it is little wonder that DiLorenzo’s book has been most savagely attacked by today’s neoconservatives, themselves disciples and practitioners of Lincoln’s own brand of imperialist and mercantilist politics.
[...]

Rob Williams
June 2005, Vermont Commons, Issue 3 [8]
The only other local favorable review of DiLorenzo’s Lincoln revision is by UVM’s own professor of education, Robert Griffin. Griffin has his own sordid association with various white supremacists, racists and neo-Nazis, and writes occasionally for Jared Taylor’s racist website American Renaissance [9] on "Rearing Honorable White Children" [10] [11], has written a "fawning biography" of William Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries [12], and has written for a "racist journal," The Occidental Quarterly. [13]
"The real Lincoln? You mean he wasn't the martyred American hero who freed the slaves and saved the Union established by the Founding Fathers? That wasn't the real Lincoln? No it wasn't, offers Thomas DiLorenzo in this worthwhile and readable book..."

Robert S. Griffin
The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 4, no. 1 [14]
A review in the conservative National Review of DiLorenzo’s book isn't quite so kind as those above:
"To get an idea of how truly awful this book is, consider that its author sneers at what he calls some "pledge of allegiance to the central government." (He means, of course, the pledge of allegiance to the flag and "to the republic for which it stands.") This offhand remark epitomizes Thomas DiLorenzo's feckless treatment of his subject, Abraham Lincoln and his place in the American political tradition. We should, nevertheless, treat this shabby work seriously, because it offers an occasion for reflection on the place of Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence in contemporary conservatism -- which has been wary of both.

DiLorenzo, a professor of economics at Loyola College in Baltimore, claims to offer "a new look" at Lincoln, in contrast to the prevalent "myths" about him; but what he actually does is recycle the articulate pro-Confederate views of Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens, Edgar Lee Masters, and Claude Bowers. He charges Lincoln with being a racist, a war criminal, and the decisive centralizer of the constitutional order and destroyer of American liberties.

In making the charge of racism, DiLorenzo sounds like an especially nasty liberal. He frequently distorts the meaning of the primary sources he cites, Lincoln most of all..."

Ken Masugi
Natonal Review, October 2002 [15]
As important as Lincoln historical revisionism is to the secessionist argument, the fact is that you won't find anyone but secessionists thinking that DiLorenzo's work is much more than junk history, and not at all entirely unlike, in its goal, the stuff that he cooked up for Big Tobacco in the past.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Franklin Sanders - League of the South Board Member


Franklin Sanders is a monetary theorist and writer who has a piece titled Monetary Secession Now in the Vermont Commons issue that was included in Seven Days issue that I mentioned in my first post on this blog. My very short, unschooled summary of Sanders' monetary theory would be:
Silver/Gold - Good
Paper Money/Currency/Federal Reserve - Bad
Like a number of members of Second Vermont Republic's advisory board, Sanders has a long association with the League of the South [1] , a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. [2] He serves on the LoS Board of Directors. [3]  He spoke at the First North American Secessionist Convention in Burlington that was sponsored last fall by Kirkpatrick Sale's (also an SVR advisory board member) Middlebury Institute [4] and can be seen in this YouTube video:



Given the LoS's many, many verifiable connections to racists and their ilk, both through its membership and its close associations with other hate groups, his assertion that the charge of racism that has been leveled at groups like his is a "totally false" one, is an embarrassingly ridiculous denial.  The stink of racism that he claims unfairly exists is rightfully there because of the documentable statements and actions of the leaders of the LoS, its various chapters and its membership, and like those noted in the second post on this blog on the LoS president Michael Hill.

Sanders maintains a number of websites connected to his monetary enterprises.  At one of his websites he lists his "Ten Commandments For Buying Gold & Silver." [5]

I learned that he had broken his own commandment #10 - "Never Break The Law" - back in the 1980's when he was operating some kind of "gold and silver bank."  He was tried and convicted in Tennessee state courts (conviction upheld on appeal) for having deprived the state of required sales tax revenue.  Sanders failed in his subsequent appeal to the United States Court Of Appeals For The Sixth Circuit, where I found this reference to a document seized by the state that clearly shows that Sanders knew he had sailed into troubled waters and had hoped that he was sufficiently immune from some kind of asset forfeiture:
"George, I realize that Arkansas can register this judgement [sic] in Tennessee and I realize that they may be able to cause me some trouble, but I don't own anything, nothing is in my name, I just have to hope that that is enough protection.  As to the good sales tax people in Tennessee, I am no longer selling anything.  Relying on the definition of Federal Reserve Notes at 12 U.S.C. 411, I am buying "obligations" and paying for them in lawful gold and silver money.  This makes my invoices a bit hard to explain to my customers, but I think it will keep the State of Tennessee at bay." [6]
Sanders eventually served nearly 3 months time and was fined over $70,000 when convicted.

For an ex-con's rationale à la the "the jury didn't mean to convict me" and "what I did really isn't a crime" genre, read Sander's own article on what "really happened" that was titled by him, The Most Dangerous Man in the Mid South. [7]

Around the time that Sanders was mixing it up with the Feds and the Tennessee state revenue authorities, he apparently exorcised some of his demons by writing a fictional account set in the now near future of a Christian Pol Pot-like character who decimated the non-Christian, city folk/population with a neutron bomb/device or some such nonsense.  If you like your action heroes white, preachy and definitely not Jewish then Heiland is for you. Customer reviews at the Amazon link included the mention of "a few good reviews of the book" from two (surprise!) fellow LoS board members, although that fact isn't noted in the customer review.  One is from the racist president of the LoS, Michael Hill:
"Heiland presents a chilling portrait of what could be in store for America should the secular-statist agenda become reality. A death-dealing, anti-Christian Establishment holds sway over a blighted urban landscape, while Christian patriots control the countryside. The epic showdown between the forces of light and darkness is not to be missed."

Dr. Michael Hill
Montgomery, Alabama
The second was from Steve Wilson, a neo-Confederate "historian" who feels that slaves of the pre-Civil War era "lived relatively easygoing lives." [8]:
"Heiland is not only a rollicking read but also a fine exposition of what it means to be a `freeman' in a world of slaves. This is not unnecessary instruction. Truth be told, what passes for `freedom' in our day is merely another term for what our forefathers call `slavery.' Heiland takes us forward into the future so that we might remember what we have lost from the past. It is a most urgent tonic for our sick day."

Rev. Steve Wilkins
Monroe, Louisiana
These kind of mutual back-scratching reviews are a common practice among the various secessionist writers, who usually make no mention of their many close connections and involvement with the subject of their reviews, where these reviews appear.

Ironically, Second Vermont Republic solicits financial support on its website but has no provision for receiving contributions of silver or gold and accepts support from contributors only via PayPal. [9]

Donald W. Livingston - SVR Advisory Board

Donald W. Livingston's entry on the Second Vermont Republic's advisory board webpage describes him as "Professor of Philosophy, Emory University, and author of several books on David Hume." [1]  In fact, there is much more to Livingston's background that Vermonter's should know about since he's providing advice to SVR and those who support Vermont's secession.  I can't help but wonder, is SVR ignorant about his background and association with the League of the South?

Livingston is a former director and founder of the League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History, is a founder of the Abbeville Institute, is associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute and has served as an editor of Chronicles Magazine. [2]  (See the SPLC's report The Ideologues describing the top 10 "thinkers" of the neo-Conservative, secessionist movement)

While Livingston formed the Abbeville Institute, in part, to distance himself from the more extreme racist elements at the LoS, he did not find them so off-putting to cause his immediate resignation from the LoS [3] or to end all association with other clearly racist writers and "thinkers," like the notorious Samuel Francis.

As it came to dawn on Livingston that he was deeply involved with racist, white supremacist ideologues, he still, as learned scholarly as he and others may think him to be, didn't really seem to get it:
"We think the Southern tradition contains a lot of wisdom," said Donald Livingston, a philosophy professor at Emory and director of the institute. "The Southern tradition is usually demonized with slavery and racism. These are things Southerners have to come to terms with, but there's more to it than that."

Livingston, however, was unaware of Hill's writings on race. Hours after first being interviewed for this story, he said the institute does not necessarily hold with all the League's positions and disavowed Hill's position and tone on race.

Still, he rejects the notion of the League as a hate group. As one example, he cites institute work that celebrates the strong black church as a positive staple of Southern culture.

"The League certainly isn't a hate group," he said. "We're trying to fashion the concept of a Southern regional culture, and there is no Southern regional culture without blacks." [4]
"Coming to terms with" racism and slavery isn't quite the same as denouncing it and completely disassociating yourself from its champions like Hill, Francis and the rest.

This is something that the Second Vermont Republic organization's local advisors and its supporters, as well as all Vermonters thinking generally about the concept of Vermont seceding from the United States, might want to think a little more about too.

The League of the South - J. Michael Hill, Founder

As I first started reading about Second Vermont Republic, I was surprised to see that among the few links noted on their website was one to the League of the South  (see SVR Links).  This alone could have meant little but when taken together with the composition of SVR's advisory board and the fact that several of these "advisors" are members of the LoS board or associated with the LoS and its affiliates, that was of some considerable interest to me and should be to all Vermonters who cherish this state's tradition of equality, cultural diversity and inclusion .

I've known about the LoS for years.  They had long ago been recognized as a hate group by various watchdog organizations like the Anti-Defamation League [1] [2] [3], the Southern Poverty Law Center [Citations too numerous to post here but will be provided as I proceed in this and future posts], Anti-neo-Confederate [4], Eye On Hate Media Center [5] [6], as well as others.  It is not uncommon for LoS members to have come from or continue to maintain memberships is other like-minded racist, anti-Semitic organizations like the neo-Nazi National Alliance [6], the Ku Klux Klan [7], the Council of Conservative Citizens (once known as the White Citizens Council) [8] and the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) [9] , to name but a few.

Here's an example of the sort of racist, separatist beliefs of the LoS and friends, the lengths to which it goes to disguise it true nature while continuing to adhere to its tenets:
"On September 8, Roper (not an LoS member) announced a setback, saying that the League of the South was withdrawing its support of White Revolution's efforts and claiming that the group was afraid of being labeled racist.  The League of the South, for its part, claimed that it did not take part in or endorse any measures with White Revolution.  However, on its own Web site, the League of the South has continued to post offers of assistance from its members, including 'whites only' offers, such as one from Alabama offering a trailer to a 'white family of three or four,' and another from Tennessee announcing that he was willing to temporarily house a 'White Christian family.'" [1]
Starting at the beginning is always a good way to put forward additional pertinent information, so let me start with a little on the founder of the League of the South.

The group now known as the League of the South was first founded as the Southern League in 1994 by J. Michael Hill, Clyde Wilson, Thomas Fleming and others.  Hill opposes racial intermarriage, racial integration and women's rights.[10]  Hill has "called slavery a 'God-ordained' institution." [11] Hill has "characterized the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a 'natural fruit' of multiculturalism and racial diversity. While supposedly promoting an anti-bigotry policy for the LoS Hill routinely espouses racist, stereotyping sentiments. [12]  Hill called for a hierarchal society composed of "superiors, equals and inferiors, each protected in their legal privileges" and attacked egalitarianism as a "fatal heresy." [13]  Naturally, Hill is displeased that these views were discovered, in part, on a invitation-only messageboard called AlaReb.

Hill and the board of the LoS have developed a long range plan for secession and separatism in the United States.  Much of the plan seems like the model being used by SVR and will be explored further in future posts.

Here's what SVR advisory board member and co-founder (along with Thomas Naylor, founder of SVR) of the Middlebury Institute, Kirkpatrick Sale, had to say about the LoS in the piece he wrote for CounterPunch about the first North American secession convention referred to above in the Anti-neo-Confederate link:
"The League of the South looks to be one of the strongest groups, with chapters in 16 states and members in ll others. It was formed in 1994, it has a national office in Arkansas, a bimonthly newpaper, a national conference, a website (Dixienet.org), and an associated LOS Institute for the study of Southern Culture. Its primary goal is establishing "a free and independent Southern republic...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."

It argues that "legally speaking," the old Confederacy still exists because it never formally surrendered, and its strategy is to get "an educated and willing public" to realize this and create "a climate conducive to Southern independence." As Michael Hill, the LOS President, has put it: "Let us gain the confidence and support of our people by becoming their worthy servants. Then let us re-assert our independence and nationhood on the firm foundational principles of 1776 and 1861." He adds, "Though the South is presently a nation by right, this will mean nothing until the South starts acting like a nation in fact. To bring Dixie to that point is the League's goal." [14]
Not a mention in it anywhere of the Michael Hill's and the League's racist history and white supremacist goals.  The LoS was delighted with the write-up and said so in it's own report on the convention. [15]  A more complete report on the convention not carried in the SVR website's news coverage links was filed by the Christian Science Monitor. [16]  Early on, The Guardian produced an excellent overview of the neo-Confederates of the LoS and the rascist, white supremacist groups that dominate the secessionist movement in America, some of who now provide council to Vermont's SVR. [17]

In the premier issue of SVR's print group, Vermont Commons , the publisher, Ian Baldwin, asks, "How do we return to our roots, with all the new things we have learned in the course of a century, the good and the bad?"[18]

The ideological make-up of the SVR advisory board's out-of-state members, who are each it seems in some way affiliated with the League of the South's board or its "educational" efforts, should be of concern to all Vermonters regardless of their views on secession.  It would appear, I fear, that the reliance on advice from such people can't help but be heavily weighed toward the bad, rather than the good.