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Friday, September 12, 2003  

Save the SCV leader says give group a chance

After receiving a recent email from a member of Save the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I made time to catch up on the organization. The SSCV is a group of members and former members whose objective is to end the SCV's current extremism. That extremism includes denial that slavery was the root cause of the Civil War and vilification of President Abraham Lincoln. These people and their sympathizers rationalize the South's secession and advocate it seceding again. (Some of them claim that the Southern states never rejoined the Union and that they live in the Confederate States of America under occupation.) The leaders of the the SCV, who increasingly hail from overtly racist groups, are also advocates of a federal government that would be a Christian theocracy and resegregation if secession cannot be achieved. SSCV chapters consist of people who were comfortable with the organization before it was prodded so far to the Right. I last wrote about the SSCV for Atrios' Eschaton when the SCV expelled several of its leaders months ago. The purging and abuse of critics has continued.

SSCV officer Walt Hilderman writes:

Folks: I have read some of your writings on the Lincoln statue in Richmond and the protests by the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) establishment, League of the South types, and others. I don't know how aware of it you are but part of the larger picture in this and related topics is the current conflict within the Sons of Confederate Veterans. A group of which I am a co-founder, Save the SCV, (www.savethescv.org) is trying to wrest contol of the SCV away the extremists who are now in charge. You are partly correct when you refer to these folks as neo-secessionists and racists. They are the only part of the SCV that is getting any serious attention. Sadly, the SCV in recent years has come under the domination of the League of the South and the Council of Consevative Citizens. We at Save the SCV have been fighting these people for almost a year now. If you take a look at our website, you will see that we are a voice of reason. The point of my message to you is that not all SCVers are racists and/or neo-secessionists. In fact, most of us are patriotic Americans, many of whom carry-on local history/heritage programs with little or nothing to do with the extremists who now dominate the national organization. No one much in mainstream media is bothering with the fact that there are good SCVers and bad SCVers, because to acknowledge that fact makes a lie of the dominant media attitude that all Southerners who honor their Confederate heritage are racists and neo-secessionists. Most media outlets take the attiutde that it doesn't matter who wins our internal squabble because we're all racists. Please give these issues some additional consideration and investigation as you write your articles. We at Save the SCV believe that our seemingly unimportant side issue is THE issue, and that it has implications for all Americans. We believe that it really DOES matter who wins. Walt Hilderman. Save the SCV.

Hilderman has taken a risk by signing his name to this missive. He may be ejected from the SCV and he will surely be 'buked and scorned by its very active extremists online.

Ed Sebesta, ace researcher and proprietor of the blog Neo, is loathe to distinguish between the SCV and the SSCV.

"What is somewhat amusing is that the Save the SCV people are shocked that if you have a cultural tradition of honoring secessionists, well, some people might think secession is a good thing. They are shocked that people who think Jefferson Davis is a hero in reading "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government" might be racists. "Who would imagine?" you might say with humorous dramatics."

. . .One thing regarding the Save the SCV which I must say upfront, is that I would regard it as a set back in fighting white nationalism if Save the SCV wins their battle with the radical forces. The radical faction are white nationalists also, but the difference is between explicit and non-explicit racism. Nothing has been better to fight Confederate nationalism than the current leadership of the SCV, and their actions.

Sebesta believes Save the SCV does not differ enough from the SCV for people concerned about civil rights to take it seriously. He is accurate in observing the underpinnings of both organizations are the same -- a gross romanticization of the slavocracy South that ignores the suffering imposed on millions of people by its shameful peculiar institution. Friends who are lapsed SCV members tell me it became impossible for them to pretend that heritage and hate had not merged in the organization before neo-Nazis such as Kirk Lyons became elite members and the SCV virtually merged with the unabashedly white supremacist League of the South.

Still, as a person reluctant to write off people who are at least fumbling toward the light of understanding what a horrible thing racism is, I am not going to consign the SSCV to the same category, 'Hopeless,' as the SCV leadership. The reforms the members of Save the SCV will achieve if they acquire sufficient muscle in the SCV will include eliminating Lyons' clique from the leadership positions it has achieved, partly by intimidating much of the membership. I also believe they would break with Michael Hill, the President of the LOS and possibly the most virulent American apostle of bigotry not currently behind bars, with Matthew Hale and David Duke on ice. SCV Commander in Chief Ron Wilson, head sneak of the group, may even be ousted, which would reduce the group's ability to dissemble by half. The campaign to inject neo-Confederate symbols into public schools, mainly the work of Lyons,' might be curtailed. All of these reforms are worthwhile. I believe racial tensions in the South would be reduced significantly if they were not continually being fueled by the neo-Confederate leaders cited here.

Would such reforms be enough to convert the SCV into an organization one could accept, if not support? Possibly so. I've accepted the Georgia flag compromise, which will probably replace the brazenly Confederate anti-civil rights movement flag of 1956 -- with another version of the Confederate flag. I accept the compromise because it is a considerable defeat for the neo-Confederates. They wanted the flag that heralded their contempt for integration, not another that most people don't realize is also a relic of the Confederacy. A similar argument can be made for accepting a reformed SCV. We might still be skeptical about why such an organization is needed at all, but at least the group would no longer be doing its darnedest to get white Southerners to re-fight the Civil War. If Sebesta's suspicion that the SSCV is just the SCV wearing a more congenial face is confirmed, we can continue our exposure of the SCV, despite its having changed leadership. I hope the SSCV prevails. But, I will be scrutinizing its activities just as closely as I have the current SCV leaderships' if it is succesful.

10:49 AM