National attention over Confederate imagery has subsided in recent weeks but a victory for flag advocates in Arkansas emerged this month and a battle over Little Rock's Confederate Boulevard remains.
A force behind the successful resurrection of a Confederate-era flag on the Independence Courthouse lawn in Batesville earlier this month is thanking the participation of the secessionist League of the South, which hopes to create a white, Christian nation.
However, some participants say they weren’t knowledgeable about the LOS presence.
An e-mail from the Arkansas Sons of Confederate Veterans dispatched in mid-September to members thanked nine Confederate-related organizations “for the return of the Stars and Bars in Batesville.”
The Arkansas League of the South, a decidedly future-oriented organization, was among the heritage groups lauded. Arkansas LOS Chair R.G. Miller and member Nick Fitzpatrick were named in the celebratory e-mail.
Independence County Judge Robert Griffin, who switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party on Thursday, told KUAR he “has no knowledge of this group.”
Miller didn’t volunteer to KUAR that he’s had any conversations with Judge Griffin, or any member of the Quorum Court that voted for the flag to fly once again (it had been taken down after the shooting in Charleston, S.C. at Emanuel AME Church in June). But the message of the LOS, labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the premier neo-Confederate hate group, was clearly stated in Batesville according to Miller.
“Secession and independence is the only viable option to secure a place for our heritage, a future for our children, and our very survival,” he said in a statement. “That is the message I delivered in Batesville. The crowd was very welcoming to the message of Southern Nationalism, and it was evident that Southerners are beginning to see that the only future for our people is one in which we are no longer under the boot of an American political system that only offers far-left and center-left options. The days of fighting for our heritage apart from our social and political well-being are over.”
The Arkansas chapter of the League of the South is relatively new, officially forming in the weeks after the racially motivated killings in South Carolina and subsequent calls for the removal of Confederate imagery across the nation. The national organization was founded in the mid-90s and in Arkansas at one time included a state legislator. Former state Representative Loy Mauch (2011-2013), a Republican from Bismark, told KUAR earlier this year after testifying against the separation of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert E. Lee Day he is no longer a member.
The Arkansas LOS has held a handful of rallies in defense of Confederate imagery, what they brand as a traditional Christian marriage and against immigration. Reports from local television stations such as FOX 16, KY3 (Springfield, MO), and KNWA have largely overlooked the radical nature of the organization. KY3 called the group “controversial,” at the end of a report KNWA noted secession was a goal, and Fox 16 suggested that some people might think flags being flown at a rally symbolized racism.
The founder and acting leader of the national group, Dr. Michael Hill, has written several essays in recent years that point to an unabashed racism.
“…we must first rid ourselves of the fear of being called ‘racists’ and the other meaningless epithets they use against us. What is really meant by the [anti-racist] advocates when they peg us as ‘racists’ is that we adhere to ethnocentrism, which is a natural affection for one’s own kind. This is both healthy and Biblical.”
“If indeed they can mix the blood of the heroes of Manassas with this vile stream from the fens of Africa, then they will never again have occasion to tremble before the righteous resistance of Virginia freemen; but will have a race supple and vile enough to fill that position of political subjugation, which they desire to fix on the South.”
“So when they call you a ‘racist’ or a ‘white supremacist,’ remember that they would have called your Southern ancestors that as well. Thus you are in good company with Lee, Davis, Stephens, and a host of other honorable men. Laugh in your accuser’s face and relish that good company!”
The Arkansas Sons of Confederate Veterans Northeast Brigade Commander John Malloy, who organized much of the Batesville operation, declined to speak about the role of the League of the South in restoring the First Arkansas National Flag (created at the time of Southern secession) to the courthouse but offered that the flag is a retrospective symbol for “Southern patriots."
"The subject matter behind the Stars and Bars now flying at the Independence County courthouse is the Confederacy,” said Malloy in an e-mail.
The city of Little Rock is taking an initial step Thursday considering a petition to rename Confederate Boulevard in downtown and east Little Rock. At this juncture, Arkansas’s League of the South, with membership primarily in the northern part of the state, does not have any events planned around the issue.