The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Rand Paul Aide’s Claims Regarding League of the South are Hogwash

By Mark Potok on July 12, 2013 - 12:18 pm, Posted in Anti-Black, Neo-Confederate

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.

  • Erika

    Sam, since i’m by no means an expert on cars and the late 1960s were way befoer my time i don’t have any idea :)

    i do know tha tthe old Forid Taurus that i drove during law school was built in Atlanta but that is about it.

    and from the perspective of someone born years after his heyday, i have to say that for a segregationist he seems like ironically an extremely colorful figure ;)

  • Sam Molloy

    Thanks for those historic pictures, Erika. Lester Maddox was famous for giving out axe handles to be used as weapons. Odd that he was clowning around on a Mercury Marquis (deSade?) at the opening of I-285 as they built Caddys in Atlanta (in Doraville, like the song). Maybe they built Mercs there as well, but I thought Ford of Atlanta only made pickup trucks. Side note: CB slang for I-285, the Atlanta loop, is the “Watermelon 500″.

  • Erika

    Sam, if you want to see why Rand Paul was giving a coded message that his intended audience could read loud and clear, see Lester Maddox’s protest signs and monument to private property of which photos are available here:

    and also see the photograph of Lester Maddox at the opening ceremony of I-285 because its hilarious. And be warned that if you like old pictures (and/or Atlanta) you can spend hours on that site :)

  • Erika

    Sam, people did pay attention and no doubt including the vast majority of the people here who recognized Rand Paul’s statement for exactly what it was – old fashioned support for racial segregation and discrimination straight out of the White Citizens Counsel playbook. Complete with the old standby argument so beloved by the Citizens Counsel types that forcing them to serve black customers was Communism or at least an affront to capitalism. For someone like me who was born several years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 but who know the history it was stunning to see a candidate for statewide office in 2012 making the type of argument.

    the vast majority of Kentucky voters no doubt knew exactly what he met – and the fact that he won the election makes it a reasonable inference that many of them supported it. Given the poor state of historic education (especially when it comse to teaching the ugly parts of history) its quite possible that some younger people did not realize what Rand Paul was saying

  • Sam Molloy

    David Cary Hart, the new Age of Information only works if people pay attention. Rand’s comment that he would have opposed the Civil Rights Act on the grounds that a shopkeeper can refuse service to anyone he chooses, seems to have strengthened his base and everyone else here does not seem to care.

  • concernedcitizen

    Well Reynardine it just goes to show the perverse nature of those who engaged in slavery.

  • Kiwiwriter

    He knew what he was doing, and he knew it was bigoted and racist…he just didn’t care, or thought it was all very jolly.

  • Sam Molloy

    According to the NPR radio station in Louisville Friday night 7/12, young Rand did not apologize and claim he never knew, he instead has defended his choice of Hunter as his advisor. I would say his aspirations for any national office are toast, but he might replace Mitch McConnell as Kentucky’s regular contribution to the Daily Show with John Stewart.

  • David Cary Hart

    SPLC is correct. However, if any of the folks in Kentucky care about this it will those who find the LOS connection appealing.

  • Reynardine

    Slavery was so protective of the racial integrity of the *black* race, that they held a man wasn’t a man till he broke a black girl in.

  • Commenter

    There’s a lot more on Hunter’s activities with the League of the South over here. I’d agree that the media’s coverage of this topic has been decidedly odd – mostly, I think, because the original Free Beacon story mined the readily available trove of columns and videos he’d produced as the Southern Avenger, and didn’t bother digging further into his time with the League of the South. The coverage has also focused on those of Hunter’s activities of which Rand Paul was most likely to have been aware – there’s no way he could’ve avoided knowing about the Southern Avenger persona, but he might not have known of Hunter’s past with the League of the South.

    But it’s not possible that Hunter didn’t know what he belonged to. He was a Septurion – a leader of a seven-person cell that met regularly to study neo-confederate tracts. And he and other South Carolina Septurions themselves met on a regular basis. This was an intellectual commitment he made, not some youthful dalliance. And, as best I can tell, he’s never repudiated it.