Saturday, June 24, 2006

Neo-Confederate Opposition to the Voting Rights Act Extension

As you may know the Republican U.S. House has failed to extend the Voting Rights Act. Heated debate and division in a closed Republican Caucus meant that the Republican leadership pulled the vote on extending the act. The revolt against the house leadership, is on the pretext that the measure is unfair to the "South" and the measures for non-English speaking voters is caught up in the anti-immigration fever that is sweeping the Republicans. The following are a few articles on the failure to vote the extension. Much of the opposition is from U.S. Representatives from the former Confederate states.

"Boston Globe" article click here.

"Washington Post" article here.

(Note: Backside of the above T-shirt is at the end of this blog.)

Katharine Inglis Butler, had published in the Dallas Morning News an editorial in opposition to extending the Voting Rights Act. The online version is June 21, 2006. For article click here.

Katherine Inglis Butler is a law professor at the University of South Carolina. Her web site is here: Oddly enough the "Dallas Morning News" mentions that she is a law professor, but not the university.

Butler states in her editorial,

"Remember, Section 5 is about trust. So if representatives vote to keep their own states under the Justice Department's thumb, they implicitly say: "We believe that our state's white citizens select candidates on the basis of race, not merit; that our state officials can't be trusted to enact fair election laws; and that our federal judges still are not as trustworthy when it comes to protecting minority rights as those of New Jersey and Pennsylvania."

I can point out that Federal Judge W. Brevard Hand interviewed in the Vol. 7 No. 3, Summer 1987, issue of Southern Partisan starting on page 34. He is on the United Stats district Court for Southern Alabama. He has had a history of controversial rulings. You can visit a web page about him at this link.

I could also point out that Trent Lott, U.S. Senator from Mississippi, said that the Republican party was the party of Jefferson Davis and had extensive dealings with the Council of Conservative Citizens, so maybe some representatives can't be trusted. A fair number of Republican congressional leaders from the South, Trent Lott, Phil Gramm, Funderbunk, Dick Armey, Thad Cochrane, Lindsay Graham, and Jesse Helms did interview in the "Southern Partisan." As U.S. Senators they had influence on the selection of Federal Judges in districts encompassing their states.

HOWEVER, though this line of review of Professor Butler's editorial has merit, it misses the most important aspect of Butler's editorial. It is the use of Southern nationalism and arguments straight out of the "Southern Partisan" to attack the Voting Rights Act.

I call the reader's attention to the following parts of the editorial towards the end of Butler's editorial.

"Why, in the face of overwhelming evidence that times have changed, are both parties so eager to keep the South in handcuffs?"


"Remember, Section 5 is about trust. So if representatives vote to keep their own states under the Justice Department's thumb, they implicitly say: "We believe that our state's white citizens select candidates on the basis of race, not merit; that our state officials can't be trusted to enact fair election laws; and that our federal judges still are not as trustworthy when it comes to protecting minority rights as those of New Jersey and Pennsylvania."


"President Bush, who is pushing extension, thus implies that the people most responsible for electing him, as well as the federal judges he has appointed to the bench in Section states, are untrustworthy on matters of race."

Butler discusses at length what she feels are negative outcomes of the Voting Rights Act, but Butler in her editorial at no point discusses the tract record of the "South" regarding voting rights in assessing whether the Voting Rights Act should be extended. Butler might argue that the massive disenfranchisement of African Americans in Florida in the 2000 presidential election was an anomaly and that the recent track record has been generally very good. Or it might be argued that some states it is obsolete but other states like Mississippi where the current governor was elected working with the Council of Conservative Citizens ( and it seems most of the Republicans are involved or have been involved with the CofCC, still needs it. A case by case could be made on the basis on the facts of each state's situation. This would be the key issue of a Voting Rights Act that had in it a need for extensions to be voted. The key and central question would be, are the Voting Rights of minorities safe, for the states where the Voting Rights Act has special provisions applying to them specifically? Is it still needed as demonstrated by recent history? What is the track record? Could Butler share with us some of this "overwhelming evidence" that times have changed.

Instead the Voting Rights Act is argued as a personal attack, a slander on the residents of the South, "our states", specifically white Southerners, who are the "us" implied in the "our" of "our states." Butler makes a point of comparing "our state officials," Southern state officials to officials of "New Jersey and Pennsylvania." Butler is making this into a North versus South comparison, and attempts to make it an issue of insult to Southerners, an appeal to Southern nationalism. The Voting Rights Act is made to be an insult to national honor. Southern nationalism is Confederate nationalism renamed, with these States' civil religion being the Confederacy, with the Confederate flags and the Confederate state holidays and other observations to honor the Confederacy, this nationalism is Confederate nationalism.

The second quote, about "the people most responsible for electing him," reveals the bargain of the Southern strategy of the Republican party and makes a claim on it, the South votes for the Republican party and in return the Voting Rights Act is to have its strongest provisions cut out and out of the South. If it reminds you of 1876 and the abandonment of African American civil rights by the Federal government then, it should. Butler's reference to "handcuffs" seems designed to recall the historical period of Reconstruction.

The Southern Partisan has long lead a campaign against civil rights legislation with these two themes, "South is being treated unfairly" and that the Republican party would be nothing without the South, so the Republican party owes the South, in particular owes the South the reduction of Civil Rights legislation. The difference is primarily that Butler says "our states" instead of "the South."

The Southern Partisan has a circulation of about 6,000, and not to marginal individuals, but professors, politicians, authors, and persons in various positions inside cultural institutions and other places in the system. It has had a broad range of prominent persons interviewing in it. There is an intelligentsia out there that waits for the day that the accomplishments of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s can be undone. Southern Partisan had a 1979 issue, butit really got going as a publication in 1980. Early on targeting Civil Rights legislation became a focus.

The following are excerpts from Southern Partisan articles:

This is a concluding excerpt from the Southern Partisan, Spring 1982, page 5, in an article titled, "Ronald Reagan, Where is the Rest of You?," by Clyde N. Wilson, former founding director of the League of the South and leading Neo-Confederate. It is a complaint that Ronald Reagan hasn't initiated sufficient reactionary change in government.

All of this is very sad for several reasons. Ronald Reagan is in danger of betraying his own better self. He is in danger of betraying the people who elected him and especially those who supported him through his outsider years. True, politicians always betray their supporters, but we thought he was different. Worst of all, it won't work. Establishment Republicanism is morally and intellectually bankrupt and has been for a long time. It cannot solve the country's problems and cannot keep together a winning coalition.

Ronald Reagan where is the rest of you?

An article by Thomas Fleming, former founding director of the League of the South, now president of the Rockford Institute, (, Southern Partisan, Summer Issue, 1982, page 4. In this article, civil rights is made to be inherently unSouthern, and thus the Voting Rights act.

An understandable disgust with the cheap slogans of natural liberty and equality led many Southerners to the conclusion that it was dangerous to talk about the rights of man, the abstract rights that had been deified by Locke, Rousseau, and Jefferson. It brought George Fitzhugh, a gentle Virginia lawyer, to the realization that civilization was based on loyalty and obedience, not on the "desire for liberty" which inspired "Satan and his fallen angles." The free and ruthless competition of the Northern states found its best expression in Benjamin Franklin, whoses "sentiments and philosophy are low, selfish, atheistic, and material." Still worse, the practice of unrestrained liberty and equality leads inevitably to socialism, where are our real rights -- to maintain a family, practice religion, and hold property -- are destroyed.

So it was, in the nineteenth Century, the Constitution was broken, the richest section of the nation devastated by war and subjugation, and all power put into the hands of plutocrats and corrupted politics -- all in the name of freedom. The same process has been repeated in our own time -- the same theatrical gestures and political corruption, Abscam and Voting Rights, the guardians of our liberty taking liberties with Senate Pages.

It is not voting that keeps a people free, but stubbornness -- a man's determination to manage his own affairs, take care of his own family, and keep his own Counsel. When we have lost that stubbornness -- as many Americans have already -- the "right" to vote will mean no more there than in the Soviet Union -- the right to collaborate with your oppressor.

George Fitzhugh was an Antebellum pro-slavery theorist who advocated it for both African Americans and whites. The reference to the Constitution being broken in the 19th century is a reference to the Civil War.

In the same issue, Summer 1982, Southern Partisan, had an article, "Juris (Im)prudence," with preface stating, "The best commentary on the so-called Voting Rights Act was made by Senator John P. East of North Carolina, of North Carolina, the most serious scholar of political philosophy to grace the Congress in recent years. Senator East's statement was made agains tthe bill, before its passage, but wehere reprint it as a prophecy."

In the article, Senator East complains that the renewing legislation "the supporters of S. 1992 have also doggeldy refused to make any needed improvement in a law that is regional in application and punitive in nature" and "... have preserved intact all of the vindictive features ofthe original legislation" and "at the same time propelling the entire nation headlong into proportional representation." The last complaint is also a complaint in Butler's editorial.

"The Scalawag Award," Southern Partisan, Fall 1984, page 14, in which Vice President Bush is berated for his support of the Voting Rights act, excerpts are as follows (A scalawag is a Neo-Confederate derogatory term for those who are considered traitors to the South. Treason is a nationalistic concept):

While Mr. Bush was in the process of kicking Ms. Ferraro's little assertions all over the place, he couldn't resist a gratuitous blast at the South. Probably out of habit from long association with the Rockefeller wing of the GOP, Bush boasted that the Reagan administration had rammed through a new Voting Rights Act that was "much more stringent" than the one the Democrats had passed a few years back. it was a curious insult to the region he now calls home, and it must not go unanswered.

[After a variety of complaints that the South is a victim of stereotypes, etc. comes the complaint as follows, italics in original.]

Yet self-styled Southerner George Bush boasts about a measure which applies only to his own region and which provides for penalties even when there is no proof that violations have occurred. In other words, you're guilty until proven innocent -- if your Southern.

Also, in the Fall 1984 Southern Partisan, is an interview with then U.S. House Representative Trent Lott, and has had a documented involvement with the Council of Conservative Citizens ( This is important to note, since you can see that Trent Lott's public face was to express piously concern for African Americans but in reality work with rabid racists. Lott is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV).

[Page 44]

Partisan: At the convention of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Biloxi, Mississippi you made the statement that "the spirit of Jefferson Davis lives in the 1984 Republican Platform." What did you mean by that?

Lott: I think that a lot of the fundamental principals that Jefferson Davis believed in are very important today to people all across the country, and they apply to the Republican Party. .... After the War between the States, a lot of Southerners identified with the Democrat Party because of the radical Republicans we had at the time, particularly in the Senate. The South was wedded to that party for years and years and years. But we have seen the Republican Party become more conservative and more oriented toward traditional family values, the religious values that we hold dear in the South. And the Democratic party has been going in the other direction. As a result of that, more and more of The South's sons, Jefferson Davis' descendants, direct or indirect, are becoming involved in the Republican Party. The platform we had in Dallas, the 1984 Republican platform, all the ideas we supported there --- from tax policy, to foreign policy: from individual rights, to neighborhood security --- are things that Jefferson Davis believed in.

[Page 46]

Partisan: Well, you were very successful early in the administration, with the economic program, but so often when it comes to an issue of great importance to the South --- one that comes to mind is the renewal of the punitive Voting Rights Legislation -- even some of our Southern Republicans seemed to have backbones of jelly. You are one of the few who took a stand against that legislation which, with the "effects test," is far worse than the original version of the legislation.

Lott: We tried to improve on it; we tried to hold off some of those changes that make it even more punitive, and the "effects test" is one example. But I have always maintained that if the same laws were applicable to say, Queens, New York that are applicable to other Southern states, Queens wouldn't be in compliance. As a matter of fact, we have a higher percent of registration, a higher percent of voter participation than they do; yet we are still put in a special category; and under the law we can't even prove ourselves and get out from under it, even if we meet all the criteria or exceed them. There is no escape hatch for us. There is no escape hatch for us. They are still trying to exact Reconstruction legislation that is just not fair.

But why do members vote that way, even members from the South in both parties? Well, it's the easy thing to do. I mean, you don't like to be isolated when you are one of only 72 or 32 members who vote against a piece of legislation that bills itself as "equal opportunity" or "civil rights." After all, how can you be opposed to "equal vote­ing opportunity" and "fair regis­tration"? But the people who support that type of punitive legislation are very noisy. They also take action. They will work against you; the press will work you over, saying things like, "He's from the South." "He's a Mississippian. Down there they don't want equal opportunity." Well, that's just not true. We have greater freedom for advancement in the South than they will ever have in a lot of states around the country.

Then, too, there are the people on the other side of the ledger, state elected officials who don't support us, despite the fact they know what such legislation does to us. I have gotten very few letters saying thanks for having the courage to vote against this unfair voting rights act. But I catch a lot of flack from the other side.

Again, Lott makes this lengthy complaint of be unjustly judged as being against civil rights, but the historical record will show that he will be heavily involved with the Council of Conservative Citizens in the 1990s. Also, note the classic Southern nationalist defense that racism elsewhere is an excuse for racism in the South. The mention of Reconstruction legislation is a direct appeal to Southern nationalism and Neo-Confederate historical narratives. Again the them is of personal insult to Southerners by those Northerners who are implied hypocrites. It is a nationalist appeal.

Ironically, after denying racist intent, he defends the racially discriminatory policies of Bob Jones University later in the interview, as not being the purview of the civil rights legislation.

Newt Gingrich gets a Scalawag Award on page 12, Spring 1985 issue of the Southern Partisan.

We settled on Gingrich not so much because of his support of the 1984 Civil Rights Act (which continues to single out the South for special bureaucratic abuse), but because of his stated reason for doing so. At a meeting in Washington of the conservative Monday Club, Gingrich told the assembled group that he voted for the Civil Rights Act because he would have had difficulty explaining a negative vote to the press.

Maybe, Gingrich voted for the Civil Rights Act, because otherwise by not doing so, it would reveal the Republican party's Southern strategy in a way, that a dozen African American Republican clubs couldn't explain away.

Dick Armey, interview in Southern Partisan, 3rd Quarter, 1990, pages 26-29.

[page 27]

Southern Partisan: Would you explain your opposition to the Civil Rights Acts of 1989 and 1990?

Armey: Well, the issue of civil rights is about the right of the individual person to be treated with respect and dignity and to have individually equal rights along with everyone else. I see that being destroyed now as they try to collectivize these rights into definable groups.
The Civil Rights Restoration Act was about agencies that had the audacity to believe that if they did not accept federal money, they were not required to make federal reports regarding their innocence of things they were not charged with.

In the case of the Civil Rights Act of 1990, we have a little different circumstance. here we are trying to collectivize. We are trying to place a quota system. And the first victims of this quota system will be low-skilled, untrained, inexperienced, entry-level workers from minority ranks.

[continues his arguments at length]

Southern Partisan: The South has been singled out for some time with respect to Civil Rights legislation. Do you think this special treatment is justified?

Armey: No, I don't think so. I think the South has been the victim of an unfair stereotype. I remember in the halcyon days of the Civil Rights Movement. I was a young college student and got an A in my speech class because I gave a speech to the effect that we in the North could not speak with great self-righteous indignation about the treatment of blacks in the South as long as we were treating the American Indians as we were in the North.

Joseph Scotchie, leading Neo-Confederate writer, whose books are published by Transaction Press at Rutgers University reviews "The Vital South" by Earl Black and Merle Black, in Southern Partisan, 2nd Quarter 1992, page 44-45.

[page 44]

Southern Republicans have played an enormous role in the recent fortunes of the GOP, providing a large share of delegates to its conventions and moving the party sharply toward the right by emphasizing low taxes, limited government, anti-Communism and social issues such as school prayer and abortion. Southern Republicans played a key role in nominating Barry Goldwater in 1964, combining with the Western states to wrestle the party away from the East Coast Establishment.

The fortunes of Ronald Reagan were similarly determined by the South. In 1976, with his challenge to Gerald Ford lagging, Reagan won life-saving primary wins in North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia.

Since 1968, the South has been the centerpiece of the GOPs electoral college lock and has replaced the Western states as the most Republican region of the country. Nixon, Reagan, and Bush have all run substantially stronger in the South than in all other regions of the country. ..

So there's the lesson of the book. The Solid South exists. The region remains conservative on fiscal and social issues. And woe onto the party which either ignores that conservatism or takes it electore for granted. ...

For al the positive developments of modern conservatism -- victory in the Cold War, a modest tax revolt -- the movement has been shattered by the apostasy of the Bush Administration.

Its failures are well-known: ... quota legislation ...

[page 45]

Adding insult to injury, the Bush Justice Department has spent the past several years dragging Southern states into court for alleged voting rights violations (a form of federal interference that caused the Deep South revolt decades earlier) and waging an idiotic, mean-spirited War of Beltway Aggression against the all-male policies of Virginia Military Institute -- Stonewall Jackson's School. For all the Administration's rhetoric about "choice" in education, the region's public schools remain firmly under federal control.

As Mr. Wallace said, "You get a bayonet in your back ..."

The article then goes on to warn that the Republican party should not consider support in the South as a given. The definition of the South is given in this article also, a reactionary nationalism and formation, removed from national politics, "Solid South," a nation within a nation.

Richard Quinn, editorial, 3rd Quarter, 1992, page 5, Southern Partisan excerpts as follows:

Today, thanks to LBJ, only the South is required to comply with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, even though racial hatred and violence have consistently been more in evidence elsewhere for the past thirty years. ...

Under the banner of sweet sounding euphemisms (equal rights, affirmative action, fighting a war against poverty and so on) the Johnson years produced volumes of federal law and a class of bureaucrats who have reproduced themselves geometrically. The six years from 1964-70 ws probably as damaging to Constitutional government in America as the Conflict of 1861-1865. None of the soldiers who marched under Grant carried weapons as damaging as Lyndon Johnson's pen.

Note how Quinn, tries to identify and contain the idea of racial discrimination within the scope of activities of hate groups, and not broader segments of society. This tactically opportunity is given to Quinn by anti-racist groups and the media, who think that racism and racists are those in flamboyant groups such as the KKK and neo-Nazi groups. I write on this in my paper at this link.

Richard Quinn attacks George Bush for supporting the Civil Rights act in an editorial "The Quota President," and attacks the legislation itself, in a Southern Partisan, 3rd Quarter, 1991, page 5 article. Also, in another article, 2nd Quarter, 1990, page 7, in which he called Mandela a "terrorist." (These editorials tend to wander.) Richard Quinn is currently the publisher of Southern Partisan and still is John McCain's South Carolina head of his presidential campaign. Quinn's son was elected South Carolina House Republican leader.

U.S. Senator Thad Cochrane, Mississippi, interview in Southern Partisan, 3rd Quarter 1995.

Page 34

Southern Partisan: Well, the South continues to be singled out in respect to Federal Civil Rights legislation, for example; do you think this is still justified?

Cochran: No, I think that it is regrettable, and it ought to discontinued. When we last had the Voting Rights act before the Senate, I offered an amendment to apply the law to all states not just to those of the old Confederacy. ... [concluding] ... so I am insulted that Mississippi has to continue to carry this burden or mantle of suspicion in the eyes of our federal government.

Cochran says this, knowing full well that the Republican party of Mississippi in 1995 has a close relationship with the Council of Conservative Citizens, . A relationship that is still ongoing in 2006, except that the Council of Conservative Citizens doesn't mention the names of Republic party figures in their newspaper.

The cover issue of Southern Partisan, Vol. 23, No. 1, listed as January/February 2003, has a cover article by Christopher M. Sullivan, editor of the Southern Partisan, and currently the Lt. Commander-in-Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), titled "Democrats Dixie Dilemma," pages 16--22.

The shift of the South from the Democratic party to the Republican party is explained as a consequence of Democratic party support for civil rights legislation. However, Sullivan, denouncing the civil rights movement as "sanctimonious" claims that opposition to Civil Rights wasn't motivated by racism, but by Constitutional concerns." Coming from an editor of Southern Partisan, this assertion can only make your eyes roll upward.

Butler's arguments are the continuation of a long history of argumentation against the effective provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The argumentation is made is made by many individuals with a hidden and not so hidden agenda against civil rights, and it is always made with appeals to southern nationalism.

There are successful reactionary revolutions, they have the ability to wait for the right opportunity, a gap, a slip.

The construction of southern nationalism may seem to be an esoteric topic for Southern Studies scholars and Cultural Geographers, but it is the bed rock of the opposition to Civil Rights in the South, the word itself a Neo-Confederate construct. As long as these states remain Confederate-identified with Confederate flags, highways, streets, holidays, monuments, in Mississippi a Jefferson Davis Presidential Library, there will be the construction of a Neo-Confederate identity, a Solid South, and a foundation for a reactionary politics for the regions claimed by the concept of the South and for the nation.

I refer the reader to the following paper.

The T-shirt shown in this blog are from a T-shirt sold by Southern Partisan.

Note: I came across this article while googling Butler, and this writer is not happy with the "One Man, One Vote" ruling.

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