Imagine if German politicians, in order to bolster their chances of being elected chancellor, had to declare publicly that they could see nothing wrong with flying the swastika, Germany’s flag during the “War of British Aggression”.
Imagine if U.S.-born Jihadists seized WMD and killed 300,000 New Yorkers. But instead of executing the insurrection leaders after their capture, the government dedicated highways and holidays in their honor.
In 2002, I criticized a taxpayer-funded statue of Nathan Forrest, the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, that neo-Confederates had recently erected in Tennessee. The response? “I hope you are killed in the most violent, bloody way possible….” “I hope someone rapes and kills your White, race-traitor wife and/or girlfriend as well.” “…it is the niggers that should have been exterminated during the American Civil War. had that occurred, this nation would be a far greater and a nigger-Marxist free land.” A few dozen love letters like that, and about 800 slightly friendlier ones. Then it got bad.
I fled Tennessee, abandoning my job at Vanderbilt University.
Even talking about the tactics neo-Confederates employ, and their “thinly veiled support for white supremacy,” can bring down a hailstorm, as Princeton University historian James McPherson discovered when he made the above-quoted statement in 1999; after receiving angry mail, McPherson backpedaled, saying he should have “been thinking more carefully”.
In 2009 Arthur Dowdell, an Auburn, Alabama city councilman, removed four tiny, freshly planted Confederate flags littering a graveyard, and received “hundreds, if not thousands, of emails,” including “threats to burn crosses in his yard and to kill him and his family”. The city council threatened Dowdell with censure, removal and arrest. Dowdell apologized.
In 2002, Wallace Earl Cook threatened to “cut [the] heart out” of Vanderbilt University’s chancellor, Gordon Gee, because Gee tried to remove the word “Confederate” from the name of a dormitory. Henry Maston wrote that he hoped Gee would be “killed by the same worthless [racial slur] that kills Farley.” Gee eventually changed his tune from “Yankee Doodle” to “Dixie,” abandoning the attempt to change the dorm’s name, trying to placate the people who attacked him by calling them “old friends,” and having his spokesman, Michael Schoenfeld, say that my criticism of the Klan founder was “rightly offensive to, and rejected by, most people.” Terrorism works.
And don’t think African-American organizations will protect you: Fears of rough rope and the lash’s sting still paralyze them, although they won’t admit it. NAACP president Ben Jealous explained that chairman Julian Bond probably felt that I had “asked for” the Klan-supporter attack and so deserved no help. Jealous’s wife, Lia Epperson-Jealous, merely put me in touch with a lawyer she knew from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who did nothing. When I discussed how Tommie Morton-Young of the Nashville NAACP had failed to help me, Morton-Young libeled me.
The Vanderbilt Black Student Alliance did “announce that we support everything that Dr. Jonathan Farley wrote about the Confederacy,” but then someone wrote its president, Nia Toomer: “ignorant nigger whore. Go and see the movie ‘Gangs of New York’. ….Niggers are lynched and burned.” No black students, alumni, or faculty spoke up again.
Nor are liberals a match for neo-Confederates. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok wrote that my calling Forrest a treasonous war criminal “really was pretty harsh”. “That’s a debate I want no part of,” agreed Green Party national media coordinator Scott McLarty, “and I’m angry at Jonathan for potentially igniting it.” Ed Sebesta, currently finishing a book about Vanderbilt’s “Confederate” dorm, concluded, “The abandonment of…Jonathan Farley to the Neo-Confederate wolves…reveals the Green Party to be the white party after all.”
Neo-Confederates, by contrast, wield, or influence those in, power. Even Obama cowers. When Brit Hume mentioned me on Fox News Television, I recall getting 200 hate messages. Barrett Brown, in his new book, Hot, Fat, and Clouded, details how Washington Times editor Robert Stacy McCain targeted me. Rachel Maddow has called McCain a “white supremacist”; far from being ostracized, McCain recently interviewed the husband of Sarah Palin. Bill Clinton, as president, honored the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group that made KKK postcards, that recommends books praising the KKK, and that asked “whether emancipation…has introduced evils…more terrible than slavery.” Paul Craig Roberts, Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, accused me of committing a “hate crime”. As The Nation reported in “Trent Lott’s Uptown Klan,” the former Republican Senate Majority Leader was an “honorary member” of the Council of Conservative Citizens, even taking photos with its head, Gordon Baum, in Lott’s office. The CCC urged its members to “gather a mob” to get me, with Baum vilifying me on national radio.
The way to fight neo-Confederate Klan supporters is to return their fire: Take anyone who publicly supports the Confederacy, create websites with his contact information, conduct denial-of-service attacks on his sites, and barrage his employer and associates with emails, calls, and faxes. A Sons of Confederate Veterans newsletter listing Lunelle Siegel as editor says that Forrest “helped start the organization known as the KKK…to offset the oppression of the Southern people.” On the Sierra Times website, Siegel said the “KKK was created to protect women and children,” and provided contact information for the chairman of my department at Vanderbilt University: neo-Confederates were urging Vanderbilt to fire me. In letters to the editor, someone responded, “[Farley’s] words inflamed me such that I wanted to put a minie [bullet] down the barrel of my Enfield [rifle], hunt him down, and shoot him like the dog he is.” Yet Siegel and the other terrorists feel safe, and have jobs.
Cleanse America of the Confederate putrefaction. The Confederacy must be destroyed.
Note: Professor Farley unsuccessfully petitioned America’s first black president not to honor Confederate veterans.
Jonathan David Farley