If I had to summarize the experience, I would say that it was a crystallization of a trend that has been underway since I first joined. When I attended the 2012 conference, there were only a handful of young people in attendance, most of whom came with Matthew Heimbach from Maryland, but since then I have seen young people with families becoming more and more prominent in the League. The norm is shifting toward men and women in their late twenties and thirties with children.
There is a new generation taking over within the League of the South and that was also on display again at the conference. That’s already the case in Maryland, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Until recently, it was also true of South Carolina, and soon it will be true of Georgia. Florida is another state that is well prepared for leadership to be passed on to the next generation. Unlike virtually all other organized “hate groups,” the League is growing more youthful, cohesive, and active, and we are assembling a vanguard that will be a thorn in the side of our enemies for a very long time to come.
There was a moment at this conference though that stood out from everything I have experienced at previous conferences. It came when William Flowers gave his speech on Saturday and received the most thunderous standing ovation I have ever seen. The norm at these Far Right conferences like Amren has long been the dry, academic-style delivery from the podium before a captive audience. In fact, the League of the South started out as more of a think tank for Southern academics in the 1990s.
The dynamic leader who can use rhetoric to tap into emotions and grievances, connect with a sense of identity, and inspire men to follow him into action has long been the key missing piece on the chessboard. We have a full bench of intellectuals who can educate and persuade (myself included), but a true leader taps into something different with the spoken word which is more visceral than rational. I don’t think anyone who left the conference this weekend had any doubt that our next leader has started to emerge.
The League’s shift in identity from think tank to activist group, the spearhead of the secessionist movement in the South, is now complete. The flags, t-shirts, and polo shirts have now become standard fare even beyond the ranks of the group itself. This was also on display at the demonstration in Wetumpka that followed the conference. About 100 people participated this year and held Secede signs and Confederate Battle Flags that were just straightforward anti-government. There are so many reasons for Southerners to hate the federal government these days.
In light of the Southern Kristallnacht, the guns were on much more prominent display this year with an armed patrol around League headquarters. This ignited some controversy on Facebook in light of the media presence at our building, but I can see both sides of the argument. An armed anti-Southern gunman like Floyd Corkins could have decapitated the League in one deadly attack given our concentration in that single location. The League was also in the news with a particularly scandalous article appearing in The Montgomery Advertiser. “The New Hate” was on the front page of USA Today.
Back at our hotel room, I had one conversation with a friend from Mississippi that is worthy of further comment here. It was about why we do what we do. Are all these rallies and speeches really going to change anything?
Quite honestly, I am averse to grandiose projects and thinking. I prefer to focus on smaller things that individuals can do. As I see it, we are living through America’s equivalent of the French Revolution, China’s Cultural Revolution, or the Soviet Union. This too shall pass in time because all leftist utopias eventually crumble under the weight of reality. Like St. Benedict in the Dark Ages, our job is preserve what we can through these turbulent times, to be a visible beacon in the approaching darkness.
We are the remnant of Southern civilization. The task before us to gather the remnant underneath our tent, to challenge Americanism, to bring new people into our institutional home, to pass down our traditions, to rebuild our attenuated sense of Southern identity, to build horizontal relationships between our people and ultimately communities where we can live out our ideals at the flesh and blood level until this storm passes. One day our descendants will be called to rebuild a shattered nation.