White nationalists from the League of the South -- the premier neo-Confederate group -- are hailing the recent Republican primary victory of Maryland's Michael Peroutka -- who won his party's nomination in an Anne Arundel County Council race, as well as a seat on the GOP Central Committee there -- as "a political victory for us."
The race promises to be a bellwether for the kind of theocratic, secessionist politics espoused by Peroutka (the Constitution Party's 2004 presidential candidate), whom a conservative columnist for the Annapolis-based newspaper, the Capital Gazette, compares to another prominent white nationalist: former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and former Republican Louisiana State Representative David Duke.
The League of the South, a neo-Confederate group that advocates for Southern states to secede in order to form a republic led by, and for the protection and advancement of, "the Anglo-Celtic core population and culture" (read: white people grasping for white supremacy with a semi-automatic rifle in one hand and a Confederate battle flag in the other) has posted a July 8 email from Peroutka to League president Michael Hill. In the email, Peroutka thanks the racist group for their friendship, work, and hospitality, and solicits its members' financial support. The group, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a neo-Confederate hate group, recently held its annual convention near Montgomery, Alabama.Here is Hill on what the League is about:
"Just so there's no chance that you'll confuse The League with the GOP or any other 'conservative' group, here's what we stand for: The survival, well being, and independence of the Southern people. And by 'the Southern people,' we mean White Southerners who are not afraid to stand for the people of their race and region.
Peroutka, who is a former board member of the League , writes to Hill:
"I ask you to ask the membership for prayers and for whatever financial support they can muster. I am grateful for our friendship and for the work of LS.
"Please accept my thanks for your hospitality in Alabama."
The League's major project is the erection of billboards in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama with the one-word message "SECEDE," followed by a link to their website, which advocates for white people who believe the wrong side won the Civil War. Peroutka pledged financial support to the League at the time of his election to the board of directors in June 2013. After serving half a year, Peroutka stepped down in early 2014, but refuses to state why.
Hill has told the Baltimore Sun that he is "proud" of Peroutka, whom he describes as one of a half dozen League candidates who ran for office. A fellow League candidate was Peroutka's minister, Pastor David Whitney, the chaplain of the Maryland chapter of the League of the South, who preaches "the God-given right to secede," urges churches to arm and train their men into militias, and advocates for the "Biblically justifiable homicide" of abortion providers. Whitney wrote a February 14 oped calling for citizenship to be restricted to Christians of the right sort. Whitney acknowledges that he is a theocrat -- and proud of it.
In a May 5, 2013 sermon, Whitney stated:
"When you talk to people about God's Law being restored in America, they say, 'Awww, you're some ayatollah. Awww, you want a theocracy.' Well yes, I want obedience to God's Law because that is where liberty comes from. Liberty comes from God's Law. Tyranny comes when God's law is rejected by a society as it has been rejected in our day. Indeed, any law made that contradicts God's Law, what is it? It's not law at all. You could call it unlaw or you could call it, as our founders did, pretended law. But it is not law if it violates God's Law."
Whitney became a Democrat to run for the same County Council seat as Peroutka, and for a seat on the Democratic Central Committee. Although Whitney lost both his races, he won a significant 35% of the Democratic vote in a low-information primary election for the Council nomination, in which only approximately 20% of voters participated.
Peroutka and his pastor carried the same platform from the pulpit to the polling place, vowing to fight the "tyranny" of Maryland's marriage equality law. Their campaigns coordinated on voter outreach, even to the extent of handing out materials for each other, standing together at polling places, and planning an Election Day rendezvous for campaign volunteers at the offices of the theocratic Institute on the Constitution, which Peroutka co-founded and where Whitney serves as senior instructor.
'They will come after me'
Peroutka's hate-based politics run deeper than meets the eye in the person of Jake MacAulay of the Minnesota-based, hard rock ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, Inc., which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated in March 2012 as an anti-gay hate group. Soon after, Peroutka recruited MacAulay to serve as the Institute's national development director. Peroutka charged him with organizing "American Clubs" in high schools and colleges, to indoctrinate students in a theocratic worldview.
Recently, while traveling with MacAulay to organize American Clubs in Michigan, Peroutka sang a song that he wrote for a forthcoming CD, calling for theocracy to replace democracy. Maryland's GOP establishment has embraced Peroutka, whom they considered recruiting as their 2014 candidate for Attorney General. However, conservative columnist Mike Collins in the Capital Gazette called on April 2 for Republican leaders to denounce Peroutka just as GOP leaders did when white nationalist candidate David Duke ran for Congress in Louisiana.
Collins calls out the League as "an odious neo-Confederate group that ardently supports 'Southern Independence,' [and] stridently warns against 'racial amalgamation.'" He writes:
"Peroutka is certainly entitled to his political notions, however strange. And not much can be done to stop him from trying to camouflage his real beliefs by donning the clothes of mainstream political parties.
"However, political leaders have a special responsibility to safeguard their party from being hijacked. Often, candidates who stake out extreme positions are denied party funding and support or publicly declared to be toxic.
"In 1989, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke, switched from Democrat to Republican, and, in 1991, he won the GOP nomination for governor of Louisiana. While the Republican Party could not force Duke to relinquish the nomination, to its lasting credit, it denounced him and let Louisianans know Duke was not a real Republican."
Peroutka faces Democratic challenger Patrick Armstrong, who joined in forming a slate of candidates in the Democratic primary to call out Pastor Whitney for his neoConfederate, and theocratic, statements and actions. I am the former treasurer of the slate, which shut down after achieving its goal of defeating Whitney.
Peroutka, who has been spotted wearing a polo shirt emblazoned with a Confederate battle flag, has done nothing to distance himself from neoConfederate groups. Indeed, he embraces Confederate nostalgia. Each year, in commemoration of Jefferson Davis's birthday, he donates a thousand dollars to a neoConfederate group to restore tombstones and plant Confederate battle flags at the graves of Confederate soldiers in Baltimore's Loudon Cemetery. He maintains that the Confederate battle flag is "the American flag."
Peroutka pledges that if elected, he will encourage fellow County Council members and the sheriff to "resist" the enforcement of any state laws that in his idiosyncratic view, God does not specifically authorize in the Bible. And he's worried that he'll need his neo-Confederate friends' financial and logistical support to advance such overtly theocratic beliefs.
In his July 8 email to League President Michael Hill, Peroutka writes:
"They will come after me in the general election in November. Not only locally, but also from across the country. There are many, as you well know, who hate the idea of Godly, constitutional government."
Meet Peroutka's Minion
Joseph "Joe" Delimater III ran unopposed in Anne Arundel's Republican primary for sheriff. He's a pupil of Peroutka and Whitney who has taken several courses at their theocratic Institute on the Constitution. He's an elder in Whitney's congregation, the Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Pasadena, Maryland. And Delimater's comments on the Civil War, which he calls (in neo-Confederate fashion) the "War Between the States," are featured on the website of the Maryland chapter of the League of the South. However, he has not yet explained to voters his relationship with the white nationalist group.
But how servile is Delimater to Peroutka's doctrine? Delimater, on his campaign website, plagiarizes an entire June 17 essay by Peroutka, changing only the title ("It's the Law"), and adding a single sentence at the end, all without attribution. The purloined piece concludes that it's the duty of County Council members and the sheriff to cooperate in resisting the enforcement of state laws - such as Maryland's laws on marriage equality, transgender rights, or stormwater runoff fees - which, in their views, contradict God's Law as revealed in their reading of the Bible.
"If these man-made actions conflict with God's moral law," Delimater plagiarized, "then they are not law at all.... When our local officials, including county councilmen and sheriff's [sic] confront such 'pretended legislation,' it is their duty to resist its implementation."
The day after Peroutka's political victory for theocrats and white nationalists, the Capital Gazette published an editorial questioning what the few voters who turned out had been thinking.
The Gazette states:
"Peroutka told voters the truth when he stressed that he was against taxes and stormwater fees. He didn't stress that he's also a theocrat and secessionist who thinks it would be great if local officials refused to uphold state laws.
"Peroutka has been honest and forthright in arguing such views online. Between now and Nov. 4, District 5 voters will have to sort out what good it would do to have a County Council representative who thinks this way."
Before he posted Peroutka's solicitious email on the League's website, Hill tweeted:
"Most Americans are too timid and housebroken to do anything except complain about DC tyranny. And we have plenty of guns . . ."
Peroutka, by virtue of his leadership, friendship, and financial ties to the League of the South, demonstrates that he embraces the values of the organization, which hide behind code words such as "Anglo-Celtic," "secessionist," and "Southern nationalist," but which are nothing less than theocratic, white supremacy.
Follow Jonathan Hutson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JonHutson