Neo-Confederates don't have much to celebrate this year. Their most potent hope, having a governor of Georgia they could manipulate into bringing back the Confederate symbol on the state flag, and supporting their other interests, has waned. So, they settle for banging the drums for some pretty silly reasons. Dick Gephardt was one of the longer shot candidates who entered the Democratic presidential race. He was never projected as a likely contender to the end by the politically savvy. So, it is no surprise that Gephardt folded his campaign Jan. 20. Other candidates, first Howard Dean and now John Kerry and John Edwards, proved more popular with the public. They raised more money. They are more telegenic. In other words, there are rational reasons why Gephard left the race. However, the neo-Confederates are claiming his departure as their victory. A member recently crowed about that in an online article.
After some foot dragging Gephardt also criticized the flying of the Confederate flag at the capitol in South Carolina, further fueling the rebel's ire.
It has been a year since Dick Gephardt kicked off his “unofficial” bid for the Democratic nomination for the 2004 presidential election. Standing in South Carolina he proclaimed that the Confederate battle flag was a hurtful divisive symbol and claimed that it should not fly anywhere.
Perhaps Governor Bob Holden actually believed that Gephardt had a chance, for he wasted no time in ordering the removal of the Battle Flag at Higginsville cemetery and the Second National Confederate flag at Fort Davidson Historic Site in Pilot Knob, Missouri.
COLUMBIA - The Confederate flag should not be flown in the United States, U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., says.
In a statement released Saturday, Gephardt said the flag that flies at the Confederate Soldiers' Monument on South Carolina's Statehouse grounds "is a hurtful, divisive symbol and in my view has no place flying anywhere, in any state in this country."
Gephardt, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, said he was releasing the statement to clarify comments in an article published Saturday in The (Columbia) State newspaper.
"I want to be crystal clear to the people of South Carolina where I stand on this issue," Gephardt said. "I think South Carolina should remove the Confederate flag from any official display anywhere in the state."
That was anathema to the member of the segregationist and secessionist League of the South. They and other neo-Confederates began to harass Gephardt and Holden by appearing at events either attended waving Confederate flags. They also urged their constituency to oppose the two politicians in upcoming elections.
The irony of this situation is that Gephardt is what my blog friend Natalie Davis terms a 'Demublican,' a Democrat whose views have sometimes veered Right. His record on racial justice is mixed as best. Gephardt has been influenced by the very active segregationist movement in Missouri, including meeting with its leadership. The Right Wing news site NewsMax described that relationship in 1999.
House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt spoke before a prominent St. Louis white-rights organization during his first run for Congress and attended two of the group's picnics after his election, says Gordon Baum, head of the Council of Conservative Citizens.
Interviewed Monday by NewsMax.com, Baum explained that Gephardt had come to a meeting of the Metro South Citizens Council to debate his primary-election opponent.
"The hall was adorned on one side of the speaker's platform with the Confederate flag, and on the other side was the American flag," said Baum. "And Dick Gephardt addressed the group and asked them openly for their endorsement."
"Gephardt is one of many local officials who dropped by the Metro South Citizens Council's gatherings in the early 1980s," according to a March 7, 1999, report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
. . .But groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, and the National Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee contend that the CCC's conservative message is just camouflage for a hidden white supremacist agenda.
Gephardt distanced himself from the CCC after segregationist Sen. Trent Lott came under fire for his links to neo-Confederate organizations.
Unlike Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who was doubtlessly approached by the neo-Confederate movement there, Gephardt has not been an unblinking advocate of racial equality.
The neo-Confederate movement's claim to have defeated the Congressman from Missouri's presidential effort is an empty one that may be a 'back at you' in response to Gephardt's cutting of ties to it as he became more involved in the national spotlight. The fact those ties once existed undermines their assertion that he is among the worst of their enemies. The fact that a presidential candidate can have had such relationships, shows a racist and secessionist movement is not as fringe as many Americans would like to believe.