Just days after pushing the book of an anti-Semitic author, Glenn Beck hosted author Thomas E. Woods, Jr., who has been a member of the League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has called a hate group. Woods is author of the Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and is author of the upcoming Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century.
Woods has acknowledged his membership in the League of the South and refused to “repudiate” what he called its emphasis on “the importance of preserving Anglo-Celtic heritage,” asking, “Why should every group except Anglo-Celts be allowed to preserve their culture?” (Woods says he is “an Armenian and not Anglo-Celtic at all.” )
Here's how the SPLC describes the League of the South:
The League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans.” The league believes the “godly” nation it wants to form should be run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (read: white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate blacks and other minorities. Originally founded by a group that included many Southern university professors, the group lost its Ph.D.s as it became more explicitly racist. The league denounces the federal government and northern and coastal states as part of “the Empire,” a materialist and anti-religious society.
And here's how the Anti-Defamation League describes the group:
League of the South. The League of the South is a large neo-Confederate group that seeks to create a south predicated on “Anglo-Celtic” cultural dominance, which is essentially the group's term for “white.” It claims, however, not to be racist. Its Florida presence is led by state chairman Dick Crockett of LaBelle and Vice Chairman Dan Gonzales of Wellington, Florida. It group boasts eight chapters in Florida: in Belleview, Bradenton, Goldenrod, Gulf Breeze, Jacksonville, Lee County, Loxahatchee and Monroe.
In a February 19, 2005, blog post, Woods wrote, “I might as well address this issue once and for all” and explained what he called his “intermittent membership” in the League of the South:
Questions have been raised about my involvement in an organization called the League of the South. Here is the story. When I was 21 years old I was invited to a meeting of scholars and journalists who were concerned that the federal government was out of control. After all, we had just lived through the disappointing Reagan years: here was a president committed to reducing the size of government, yet the federal government in 1989 was much larger than it had been in 1981. (The problem has only worsened since then, of course, with a supposedly conservative Republican president setting spending records all over the place.) I was told that these folks were looking to start an organization that would assert the legitimate rights of the states much more vigorously, since the very idea of local self-government, so central to Jefferson's political philosophy, had essentially dropped out of our vocabulary. (Count the number of times that theme was raised in last year's presidential debates if you don't believe me.)
Intrigued, I went.
I met a great many figures of importance there. (One of them, Clyde Wilson, who sits to this day on the League's board of directors, is the editor of the Papers of John C. Calhoun and has been called one of the top ten Southern historians in America by Eugene Genovese.) The meeting was very fluid, in that the precise nature of the organization that was to be founded was itself a matter of debate. At one point the discussion centered around whether the organization should focus on the South or whether its scope should be more broad and look to encourage decentralist ideas wherever in the country, at the state or local level, an interest in them could be found. I took the second position, which lost.
Yet although I was a lifelong Northerner, I still thought the establishment of a Southern organization, whose primary focus at first would be largely cultural and educational, was a good thing. At Harvard I had just taken American intellectual history with the great Donald Fleming, who had introduced me to the thought of the Southern agrarians. After reading I'll Take My Stand, I became convinced that in spite of those aspects of Southern history that all reasonable people deplore, there was much of value in Southern civilization that deserved a fair hearing. Moreover, I knew that conservatives had traditionally had an appreciation for the South; that was certainly true of Russell Kirk, and I have yet to meet someone who did not profit immensely from reading The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver.
Also at Harvard I had the opportunity to be present at a special series of lectures delivered by Prof. Eugene Genovese. Prof. Genovese, who had repudiated his earlier Marxism, came to Harvard to speak about the value of the Southern tradition. He said, “Rarely these days, even on southern campuses, is it possible to acknowledge the achievements of the white people of the South.... To speak positively about any part of this southern tradition is to invite charges of being a racist and an apologist for slavery and segregation. We are witnessing a cultural and political atrocity -- an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip young white southerners, and arguably black southerners as well, of their heritage, and, therefore, their identity. They are being taught to forget their forebears or to remember them with shame.” Prof. Genovese's deeply learned lectures, later published as a book called The Southern Tradition, had a profound influence on my own thinking.
For these and for no other reasons, and in this context, have I had an intermittent membership in the League over the years. I have played no day-to-day role in the organization and I am responsible neither for the comments of any other member nor for the politically incorrect statements I am told can be found on the League's site. With the passage of time the League has begun to emphasize the importance of preserving Anglo-Celtic heritage, a position I am expected to repudiate. As an Armenian and not Anglo-Celtic at all, I nevertheless see no reason to: why should every group except Anglo-Celts be allowed to preserve their culture? (As for the group's “racism,” a word that is thrown around at anyone who looks cockeyed at Jesse Jackson, I find it revealing that white supremacist organizations have repeatedly and vocally condemned the League.)
(H/T Zach Pleat and Matt Gertz.)