In all the brouhaha surrounding Jack Hunter, the aide to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) exposed as a longtime neo-Confederate activist this week, Hunter's past as the leader of the Charleston, S.C., chapter of the League of the South (LOS) hardly registered. After all, Hunter said when confronted by the Washington Free Beacon, when he was with the group in the 1990s, it was "explicit" in its rejection of racism.
Although LOS has grown more and more openly racist in the years since its formation in 1994, its ugly ideology was evident pretty much from the start. In 1995, founder Michael Hill, angry at the murder of a white man bearing a Confederate flag by a black youth, described black people as "a compliant and deadly underclass that now fulfills a role similar to that of Hitler's brown-shirted street thugs."
One of LOS' founding directors was Jack Kershaw, a lifelong segregationist who was an official of the segregationist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s who said in 1998 that "somebody needs to say a good word for slavery."
That same year, Hill complained bitterly about the "destruction of states' rights in the South" that he lamented had "undermin[ed] the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic [read: white] people and its institutions." Arch-segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace, he added then, had "rightly identified the enemy."
In 1999, Hill denounced the "evil genie of universal 'human rights'," an extension of his earlier description of egalitarianism as an evil "Jacobin" doctrine.
In fact, by the end of the 1990s, the period that Hunter says he was active in the group, most of the academics and other intellectuals who were part of the LOS had quit, saying it had become too openly racist for them. It was around that time that Hill began openly opposing any and all cases of racial intermarriage. He described slavery as "God-ordained" and the group published treatises defending segregation as necessary to the racial "integrity" of blacks and whites alike.
The LOS got even worse as time passed, with Hill in recent years suggesting that a new war against the federal government will be needed and urging followers to obtain heavy weapons and even tools to derail trains. One of its key activists for a time was a convicted "Aryan" terrorist, and its leaders openly urged seceding from the United States and forming a country to be ruled by theocratic whites. But the racism of the LOS was certainly evident when Jack Hunter was an LOS leader.
It's true that the Southern Poverty Law Center did not begin to list LOS as a neo-Confederate hate group until 2000, but it's difficult to believe that a ranking leader of the group like Hunter had no idea what its core beliefs were long before.
Jack Hunter is either lying -- as the Washington newspaper pointed out in its exposé, Hunter went on until at least 2009 as a radical neo-Confederate activist -- or he is too dense to have understood the group he helped lead. Either way, it's difficult to swallow Rand Paul's blasé assertion to The Huffington Post that "[i]f I thought he was a white supremacist, he would be fired immediately" and there's "no evidence" of any bigoted beliefs or behavior on the part of Hunter.