An interdisciplinary team examines the mainstreaming of the New Dixie movement, whose calls range from full secession to the racist exaltation of “Celtic” Americans and whose advocates can be found far north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
A century and a half after the conclusion of the Civil War, the legacy of the Confederate States of America continues to influence national politics in profound ways. Drawing on magazines such as Southern Partisan and publications from the secessionist organization League of the South, as well as DixieNet and additional newsletters and websites, Neo-Confederacy probes the veneer of this movement to reveal goals far more extensive than a mere celebration of ancestry.
Incorporating groundbreaking essays on the Neo-Confederacy movement, this eye-opening work encompasses such topics as literature and music; the ethnic and cultural claims of white, Anglo-Celtic southerners; gender and sexuality; the origins and development of the movement and its tenets; and ultimately its nationalization into a far-reaching factor in reactionary conservative politics. The first book-length study of this powerful sociological phenomenon, Neo-Confederacy raises crucial questions about the mainstreaming of an ideology that, founded on notions of white supremacy, has made curiously strong inroads throughout the realms of sexist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, and often "orthodox" Christian populations that would otherwise have no affiliation with the regionality or heritage traditionally associated with Confederate history.
- Foreword: A Connected Fringe (James W. Loewen)
- Introduction: Neo-Confederacy and the New Dixie Manifesto (Euan Hague, Edward H. Sebesta, and Heidi Beirich)
- Part I. The Origins and Development of Neo-Confederacy and Its Tenets
- 1. Neo-Confederacy and Its Conservative Ancestry (Euan Hague and Edward H. Sebesta)
- 2. The U.S. Civil War as a Theological War: Neo-Confederacy, Christian Nationalism, and Theology (Edward H. Sebesta and Euan Hague)
- 3. Gender, Sexuality, and Neo-Confederacy (Heidi Beirich and Kevin Hicks)
- 4. Neo-Confederacy, Culture, and Ethnicity: A White Anglo-Celtic Southern People (Euan Hague and Edward H. Sebesta)
- 5. Neo-Confederacy and the Understanding of Race (Euan Hague and Edward H. Sebesta)
- Part II. Practicing Neo-Confederacy
- 6. Fighting for the Lost Cause: The Confederate Battle Flag and Neo-Confederacy (Gerald R. Webster and Jonathan I. Leib)
- 7. Neo-Confederacy and Education (Euan Hague)
- 8. Literature and Neo-Confederacy (Kevin Hicks)
- 9. You Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie: Neo-Confederacy in Music (Jon Bohland and Brian Tongier)
- 10. The Struggle for the Sons of Confederate Veterans: A Return to White Supremacy in the Early Twenty-First Century? (Heidi Beirich)
- Afterword: Nationalizing Neo-Confederacy? (Euan Hague and Edward H. Sebesta)
Contemporary neo-Confederacy made its first mainstream appearance on 29 October 1995 when the Washington Post published the "New Dixie Manifesto." The authors were Thomas Fleming and Michael Hill, two of twenty-seven people who had founded a new nationalist organization, the Southern League (later renamed League of the South), on 25 June 1994 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) Mark Potok as the "ideological core" of neo-Confederacy, the League of the South (LS) advocates secession from the United States and the establishment of an independent Confederation of Southern States (CSS). The CSS would contain fifteen states—four states more than seceded to form the Confederate States of America (CSA), which led to the Civil War (1861-65), the additional states being Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland.
The New Dixie Manifesto was a clarion call to arms in which Hill and Fleming described themselves as representing "a new group of Southerners . . . calling for nothing more revolutionary than home rule for the states established by the U.S. Constitution." Comparing "American Southerners" to, amongst others, Scots and Ukrainians, the manifesto charged that the United States had treated "American Southerners" with "exploitation and contempt," and that a "renewed South" was both necessary and achievable. Among its specific points, the manifesto espoused the following:
- home rule for "Southerners"
- states' rights and devolved political power
- local control over schooling, in opposition to federal desegregation decrees
- removal of federal funding and initiatives from Southern states
- a Christian tradition in opposition to modernity
- support for Confederate symbols
In addition, the manifesto expressed the following views:
- that "Southerners" are maligned as "racist" and "anti-immigrant" by hypocritical, prejudicial Northerners
- that the South should be left alone on the issues of race
- that race relations are better in Southern states than in Northern ones
- that the United States is a "multicultural, continental empire" run by elites in Washington, Wall Street, Hollywood, and the Ivy League.
The New Dixie Manifesto proclaimed that education policies, historical interpretations, federal programs, and opposition to Confederate iconography together constitute efforts to "rob" "Southerners" of their very existence, an active project of discrimination resulting in "cultural genocide."
Letters critical of the manifesto soon appeared in the newspaper, one stating that Fleming and Hill had presented "questionable arguments." Another claimed that the vision of the U.S. South that the manifesto proposed would require a process of "ethnic cleansing" to change the demography of the region, which, like much of the United States, is "polyglot, eclectic, syncretic and generally mixed and messy." Whether or not by coincidence, the topic was revisited in the newspaper six weeks later on the occasion of the death of Andrew Lytle, one of the Southern (or Nashville) Agrarians. The conservative syndicated columnist George Will introduced readers to the heirs of the Agrarians' intellectual tradition, namely the Southern League and one of its founding directors, Clyde Wilson, a conservative academic at the University of South Carolina and a leading proponent of neo-Confederacy. Will praised the Southern League's "admirable seriousness about the intellectual pedigree of a particular cultural critique of American modernity," and told readers how to contact the organization for those who "believe America is becoming too homogenized, that regional differences are being blurred and ancient passions are growing cold." In addition, Will recommended the League's publication, Southern Patriot, which "bristles with quirky agitation against 'Yankee hegemony.'"
Four months later, on 5 May 1996, National Public Radio's Weekend Edition broadcast an interview with Southern League president and manifesto co-author Michael Hill. In response to Diane Roberts's questions about democracy, Hill said:
You know, the South has never bought into the Jacobin notion of equality. The South has always preferred a natural hierarchy. You're always going to have some violations of people's rights, for whatever reason, but we just believe that a natural social order left to evolve organically on its own would be better for everyone.
Hill's position, as we review in Chapter 4, is consistent with not only neo-Confederacy, but a nineteenth-century notion of social Darwinism. Explaining the neo-Confederate movement in London's Guardian newspaper, Roberts later wrote:
The Southern League [is] a burgeoning organisation of mostly middle-class, often academic, certainly angry, white men. . . . Their mission is to alert like-minded "neo-Confederates" to "heritage violations." . . . The Southern League's agenda is, as their board members describe it, "paleo-conservative." They want the South to return to the "order" it once had before the "disruption" of the Civil Rights Movement.
Critical of this emergent neo-Confederacy ideology, and exposing some of its more unpalatable tenets, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Tony Horwitz described neo-Confederacy in his book Confederates in the Attic as a "loosely defined ideology" that pulls together "strains of Thomas Jefferson, John Calhoun, the Nashville Agrarians . . . and other thinkers who idealized Southern planters and yeoman farmers while demonizing the bankers and industrialists of the North." After a conversation with neo-Confederate Manning Williams in Charleston, South Carolina, Horwitz concluded that much of neo-Confederacy's discourse and ideology was "little more than a clever guide around race and slavery, rather like the slick-tongued defense of the Southern 'way of life' made by antebellum orators."
Another journalist who has written on neo-Confederacy is Peter Applebome, who, in his book Dixie Rising, identified its proponents:
In hoary, century-old Confederate organizations and freshly minted, modern-day variations on the same theme, at conferences and Civil War reenactments, in cyber-space and the real world, the South is full of Lost Cause nostalgia, angry manifestos, secessionist verbiage, and assorted movements harking back to various elements of the Dixie of old. . . . The neo-Confederate groups are not a monolith. They range from hard-right and overtly racist politics to a relatively benign mix of monument polishing, history, nostalgia, and agrarian conservatism suspicious of both big government and big business.
We concur with Applebome's evaluation, except for his assertion that some of these groups are benign. James W. Loewen and others have demonstrated the perniciousness of monuments to white supremacy throughout the United States: such commemorative efforts, however nostalgic, aid in the construction and maintenance of what geographer Richard Schein identifies as "racialized landscapes—American cultural landscapes that are particularly implicated in racist practice and the perpetuation of (or challenge to) racist social relations." Our sense that Applebome's identification of the influence of neo-Confederacy is somewhat downplayed in these comments is confirmed just a few pages later. Exploring the close working relationships between advocates of neo-Confederacy, such as Southern Partisan owner Richard Quinn, and high-ranking members of the Republican Party, such as Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond, Applebome explains that "it's hard to know these days where the Confederacy ends and the Republican party begins."
Thus neo-Confederacy may be more closely entangled in the corridors of power in the United States than it first appears. In the late 1990s, the Washington Post's Thomas B. Edsall revealed a series of connections between elected Republican Party officials and the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), including Georgia congressman Robert L. Barr Jr.'s keynote speech to the CCC meeting in Charleston on 6 June 1998. After initial denials, Barr admitted he had spoken to the CCC and distanced himself from the group, whose members, Edsall explained, "view intermarriage as a threat to the white race" and propose deporting nonwhites from the United States. Edsall described how other leading Republican politicians, including Mississippi senator Trent Lott, North Carolina senator Jesse Helms, and Mississippi governor Kirk Fordice, had ties to the CCC. When the story broke, Lott initially stated that he had "no firsthand knowledge" of the CCC, but evidence emerged that in 1992 Lott had attended the group's meeting, telling those present in his keynote speech that they "stand for the right principles and the right philosophy." Lott subsequently tried to distance himself from the CCC, members of which confirmed that Edsall's stories were accurate before articulating their opposition to immigration, racially integrated schools, affirmative action, and their fight to protect "such symbols of southern heritage as Confederate monuments and public displays of the Confederate flag."
Despite such mainstream media attention, the debate over neo-Confederacy was perhaps more in evidence in alternative media sources and on the Internet. The focus in such forums often extended beyond neo-Confederate views on race and states' rights issues. Richard Shumate, writing in Southern Voice in 1994, warned that "some of the people who are leading the charge to preserve Confederate heritage, known collectively as the neo-Confederate movement, are often openly, and passionately, homophobic." Citing the overlapping interests of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV), Georgia's state representatives, and outspoken conservative leaders such as Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan, Shumate explained that "while neo-Confederates leaders labor long and hard to veil any racist sentiments among their members (though in many cases, the veil wears pretty thin), disdain for gays and lesbians is, in contrast, often expressed openly and boldly."
Writing in the Jewish newspaper Forward in 1995, Ira Stoll reviewed the major magazine of neo-Confederacy, Southern Partisan, a publication of the Foundation for American Education (discussed in Chapter 1). Highlighting its interviews with well-known Republican Party figures such as Trent Lott, Dick Armey, and Phil Gramm, Stoll explained:
Some experts say the ties between politicians and the neo-Confederate movement offer insight into the Republican attempt to shift power to the states—an effort consistent with Confederate ideas. The Southern Partisan connection, they say, raises the prospect that the new GOP leadership and the presidential candidates may lend credibility to a group tinged with racism and historical carelessness.
One of Stoll's experts was Princeton University historian James McPherson, who said: "If this neo-Confederate point of view begins to forge back into the mainstream, it could undercut support for civil rights." Brian Britt, in the on-line forum Z Magazine, concurred, explaining that neo-Confederacy was a worldview that
encompasses history, literature, museums, reenactments, monuments, battlefields, and organizations dedicated to the principles and founders of the Confederate States of America. Neo-Confederacy intersects with white supremacy, the Christian Right, the Populist Party, and the states' rights movement. To an increasingly diverse set of Americans, neo-Confederate culture supplies a regionally- and historically-grounded message of right-wing righteousness and urgency. Neo-Confederate culture presents two faces to the world: one of heritage and another of hate. Heritage bespeaks the mythical past of the antebellum South and its valiant defenders, but this gentility often adjoins angry right-wing extremism.
At the time neo-Confederacy was evidently becoming a factor in U.S. politics. In a hotly contested Senate race in Illinois in 1998, the Republican challenger Peter Fitzgerald defeated incumbent Democrat Carol Moseley-Braun, an African American, but not before a Moseley-Braun campaign advertisement showed Fitzgerald standing beside a Confederate battle flag. Fitzgerald "angrily denied Moseley-Braun's allegation that he [was] associated with neo-Confederate groups such as the Rockford Institute." In Georgia, congresswoman Cynthia A. McKinney, also an African American, identified her 1996 electoral opponents as "a rag-tag group of neo-Confederates," and in Alabama, state senator Charles Davidson joined the neo-Confederate League of the South. "Make no mistake," David Goldfield subsequently warned in his book Still Fighting the Civil War, referring to elected officials such as Davidson, "these are not the much-maligned 'redneck' elements; these are southern leaders proving that the shelf-life of southern history extends considerably beyond its expiration date." Examining neo-Confederate magazines like Southern Partisan, Goldfield explained that these publications romanticized the Old South and distorted the events of both the Civil War and Reconstruction, producing a neo-Confederacy that valorized white men, "as well as the racial and gender implications derived from those views." Neo-Confederacy thus was seen to comprise a belief in, and the need for, social hierarchy, be this racial or gendered, with white men being dominant. To this, we contend, should be added hierarchies based on class, religion, and sexuality. Believers in neo-Confederacy, Goldfield explained, "are not fringe people." Their worldview and activities have "a broader white support in the South, within the Republican Party and among some evangelical Protestants."
One of the most sustained encounters with this iteration of neo-Confederacy did not come in the South. The city of Rockford, Illinois, just ninety miles northwest of Chicago, became embroiled in a lawsuit about racial segregation and unequal school funding in the late 1980s. Federal Judge P. Michael Mahoney stated that through sophisticated tracking of student performances, school administrators in Rockford had "raise[d] discrimination to an art form," and ruled that Rockford must desegregate its schools, hire more minority teachers, build new facilities, and implement a host of other requirements. Rockford had to levy additional taxes to pay for the costs. These measures attracted the attention of the Rockford Institute and its leader, Thomas Fleming, co-author of the New Dixie Manifesto.
On 16 February 1998, Fleming and his colleagues hosted a rally denouncing taxation, school integration, and the federal court's rulings. Alongside school board members at this event was one of the city's most prominent politicians, Republican congressman Don Manzullo. Exposing Fleming's neo-Confederate beliefs and founding membership in the League of the South, the Rockford Register Star explained that Fleming "compared the school desegregation case with historical injustices that caused acts of banditry and insurrection." The newspaper subsequently revealed that "three members of the Rockford School Board say they will use whatever stage is offered to denounce court-ordered school taxes and judicial interference in local school systems. To them, it doesn't matter if the offer is from the founder of a neo-Confederate organization that has been accused of implicit racism." Manzullo stated that he had no knowledge of Fleming's neo-Confederate connections, although a year earlier, in February 1997, he had criticized the Rockford desegregation ruling in Fleming's Chronicles magazine. Chastising "activist federal judges," Manzullo advocated limiting the power of the judiciary to make decisions "that would have the effect of raising taxes." Manzullo again appeared in Chronicles three months prior to attending Fleming's February 1998 anti-taxation rally, this time attacking the United Nations as an organization that hindered U.S. sovereignty and had "outlived much of its usefulness and overreached its bounds." Manzullo's claim of ignorance about Fleming thus seems disingenuous, particularly given Fleming's repeated assertions of his advocacy of neo-Confederacy in the mid-1990s. Writing in the National Review in July 1997, for example, Fleming outlined his reasons for membership in the Southern League (League of the South) and argued that "secession is as American as bootleg whisky and draft riots." After listing numerous secessionist movements in U.S. history, Fleming maintained that "the United States remained, basically, a federal union down to the 1960s, when activist judges and ambitious politicians of both parties decided that the Constitution had outlived its usefulness."
It was evident that something was happening in U.S. political culture that was fusing separatism, nationalism, Confederate heritage, and a politics that looked through a lens of race and ethnic identity. This neo-Confederacy, Christopher Centner explained to readers of Skeptic magazine, not only united a range of political positions, but was also pulling together numerous factions whose members often overlapped. These included the "heritage defenders" in groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy, "agrarian romantics" who positioned themselves as the intellectual heirs of the 1930s Southern Agrarians, libertarians connected with organizations such as the Ludwig von Mises Institute, "Christian soldiers" who voiced a fundamentalist religion and a belief in biblical literalism, and "racists."
It was this emerging example of nationalism and racially coded politics that led us (Hague, Sebesta, and the Southern Poverty Law Center) to pursue a sustained collaboration examining neo-Confederacy. Our research was first published in 2000, when Sebesta's essay in Scottish Affairs argued:
Neo-Confederacy is a reactionary movement with an ideology against modernity conceiving its ideas and politics within a historical framework of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) and the history of the American South. This includes more than a states' rights ideology in opposition to civil rights for African-Americans, other ethnic minorities, women and gays, though it certainly includes all these things. Opposition to civil rights is just a part of a world view desiring a hierarchical society, opposed to egalitarianism and modern democracy.
Later that year the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization well known for its monitoring of, and legal contests with, militia, patriot, and other racial supremacy groups, identified the League of the South as a "hate group." This designation by the SPLC was made on the basis of a group's ideology as expressed in official publications or by the group's leaders. Hate groups, the SPLC maintains, have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people for their immutable characteristics.
The SPLC argued that the neo-Confederate League of the South, founded by Michael Hill, Thomas Fleming, Clyde Wilson, and others in 1994, is racist in its belief that African Americans are inferior to whites and is therefore a hate group. Further, the SPLC report identified the League of the South at the forefront of a neo-Confederate movement that also included the CCC and sections of the SCV and UDC. It noted that the 1990s neo-Confederacy had precedents in, and connections to, the White Citizens' Councils of the 1950s and in this most recent version, neo-Confederacy was "unabashedly political and beginning to show its naked racism."
This revitalized neo-Confederacy, anthropologist Paul Shackel explains, began to inform numerous debates, most prominently about the placement of Confederate flags in states like South Carolina. It also influenced efforts by the SCV to reinterpret the Civil War as a struggle for national independence and sovereignty, a reinterpretation in which SCV authors "never mention slavery." When politicians in the South did mention slavery, and condemned it, furious neo-Confederate sympathizers bombarded local media outlets. In April 1998, Governor James S. Gilmore III of Virginia criticized slavery in a statement that also proclaimed Confederate Heritage Month. Patrick S. McSweeney, a former chairman of Virginia's Republican Party, joined the neo-Confederate Heritage Preservation Association (HPA) in disparaging the governor's remarks. Led in Virginia by R. Wayne Byrd Sr., who stated that Gilmore's comments were "an insult," the HPA was formed in 1993 and was, Shackel explains, "one of the first nationwide neo-Confederate organizations to develop in the post-civil rights era." With members in forty-nine states, the HPA actively lobbies state officials, often successfully, to declare Confederate Heritage months. Through these and other similar groups, best-selling political commentator Kevin Phillips noted, "southerners have bred a new cultural and political phenomenon: neo-Confederates," whose "upsurge goes beyond mere nostalgia." Although it is this recent neo-Confederacy that forms the major part of our analyses, neo-Confederate activism has a lengthy history in the United States.
Neo-Confederacy: A Recurrent Practice
It may be a truism to say that neo-Confederacy is practiced differently by different people in different places at different times. Although the latest version of neo-Confederacy emerged in the mid-1990s, the term "neo-Confederate" has an extensive history. James McPherson, for example, has described the efforts of "Neo-Confederate historical committees" operating between the 1890s and 1930s to make sure that history textbooks presented a version of the Civil War in which
secession was not rebellion but rather a legal exercise of state sovereignty; the South fought not for slavery but for self-government; the Confederate soldiers fought courageously and won most of the battles against long odds but were finally worn down by overwhelming numbers and resources.
These committees were drawn from members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the United Confederate Veterans, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Another historian, Nancy MacLean, has utilized "neo-Confederacy" to identify the reactionary right-wing politics that coalesced in the 1950s in opposition to Supreme Court rulings mandating racial desegregation. Both usages are consistent with our own: McPherson's as it refers to major proponents of neo-Confederate beliefs and the central components of neo-Confederate understandings of the Civil War, and MacLean's referring to similar actors in conservative politics, whom we examine in Chapter 1.
Despite these varied attributions of "neo-Confederacy" from the period immediately after the Civil War to the present, there are a number of consistencies in neo-Confederate thought—its racist, patriarchal, heterosexist, classist, and religious undertones—that form the basis of a conservative ideology that centers upon social inequality and the maintenance of a hierarchical society. At the core of neo-Confederacy is an active promotion of the political legacy of the short-lived nineteenth century Confederate States of America, comprising states whose secession resulted in the Civil War. Proponents of neo-Confederacy regularly look to these events, the Confederacy's leadership, and the pre-Civil War "Old South" for theological, philosophical, and cultural precedents and, in many cases, behavioral role models.
The major ideologues of the recent revival of neo-Confederacy are, as we outline in Chapter 1, almost all activists who identified themselves as paleoconservatives, decided to split from mainstream U.S. conservatism, and solidified their views around a vision of the South as "a priceless and irreplaceable treasure that must be conserved." Hostile toward today's multicultural society and focused around organizations such as the League of the South and Council of Conservative Citizens, neo-Confederacy can also be said to inform more mainstream heritage organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy and, arguably, prominent politicians such as Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond. Proponents of neo-Confederacy also overlap with those advocating a racial, white nationalism, such as Jared Taylor and his American Renaissance magazine.
Outline of the Book
Neo-Confederacy intertwines a range of political thought, theology, and historical interpretation into a call for the recognition of a specific Southern U.S. culture and various assemblages of what that culture means for the control of people and resources. In this volume, contributors draw on documents published by neo-Confederate activists to explore how neo-Confederate ideology constructs a worldview that we contend is patriarchal, ethnocentric, intolerant, and racist, but a worldview that operates utilizing a complex discourse, a language that at face value appears to laud cultural rights and freedoms, heritage preservation and celebration, local control over institutions, and Christianity.
Due to the diversity of actors and positions within neo-Confederate organizations, this collection is not intended to be comprehensive. Rather, we hope to illustrate the kinds of activities and politics that permeate this sector of the political right. Our intention is to give readers an understanding of neo-Confederacy, its development and ideologies. Further, we demonstrate the convergence of conservative thought with heritage preservation activism, popular commemorative processes, and theological beliefs, which together articulate neo-Confederacy at the start of the twenty-first century.
Neo-Confederate ideology influences Hollywood movies such as Gods and Generals (2003), college football games and mascots, museum displays, musical and theatrical performances, literature, religious beliefs, statuary and monuments, school textbooks, and multiple other aspects of everyday life in the United States. Many recent books about the role of memory and commemoration in the South note the growing presence of neo-Confederate interpretations of the past. When a statue of Abraham and Tad Lincoln was unveiled in Richmond, Virginia, in 2003, for example, the event was attended by "neo-Confederates wav[ing] signs bearing the slogan: 'Lincoln: Wanted for War Crimes.'" The Southern Poverty Law Center's "Intelligence Reports" regularly provide details of the latest actions by neo-Confederate sympathizers.
Two theoretical understandings underpin our collection as a whole. The first, as prominent geographer David Harvey has asserted, is "that no social order can change without the lineaments of the new already being present in the existing state of things." Neo-Confederacy is an attempt to change the social order. Proponents of neo-Confederacy argue that American cultural, educational, political, and religious practices must be changed, and the ultimate aim of the League of the South, as noted, is the secession of fifteen states to create a new Confederacy. Such neo-Confederate contentions, however, did not appear out of the blue with the New Dixie Manifesto in 1995. We have to look to the past to understand the beliefs that coalesced into what became neo-Confederacy in the 1990s.
As examined in Chapter 1, many neo-Confederates identify themselves as "paleoconservatives" who, believing in what they consider to be authentic conservatism, became disillusioned with the direction that conservative politics took in the 1960s. In terms of religious perspectives, proponents of neo-Confederacy maintain that the Civil War was a theological struggle between orthodox Christian Confederate troops and heretical Union soldiers. This is examined in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 traces neo-Confederate understandings of gender and sexuality to the antebellum plantation household in which the white male planter represented the head, and his family and slaves the rest of the body, in an organic conceptualization of gender and race relations. Race is the crux around which neo-Confederacy turns, which is the subject of Chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 explores the self-image of many neo-Confederates, that of Anglo-Celtic ethnicity. The authors argue that this is a synonym for whiteness and show how in the 1970s and 1980s academics like Grady McWhiney were integral in developing the Celtic South thesis that understands the (white) residents of the Southern states, both past and present, to be Celtic. Chapter 5 quotes neo-Confederate authors and publications at length, demonstrating that neo-Confederacy entails hostility toward social equality, multiculturalism, civil rights, school desegregation, affirmative action, and immigration. Utilizing ideas about ethnicity and race, proponents of neo-Confederacy maintain that ethnic and cultural groups are distinct and two or more groups cannot co-exist in the same space on equal terms.
The second part of the book examines processes of the production of neo-Confederate culture. This pertains to our second theoretical tenet, that culture is not an object that can be simply identified and then described. Rather, culture comprises on-going processes that must be explained. Saying that "culture" is the reason for something does not offer an understanding of how and why an event occurred or a belief developed. Indeed, saying something is "cultural" typically curtails rather than enhances debate. Consequently, cultural geographer Don Mitchell argues that when examining cultures, the critical questions to ask are "who produces culture—and to what end? . . . [and] why is it produced" (original emphasis). The result of such questioning is an assessment of how the practices of politics and culture are entwined in a relationship. Thus, our examinations in Part 2 address "the production of [neo-Confederate] 'culture' and its use" in promoting and disseminating a neo-Confederate ideology.
Chapter 6 examines efforts to ensure that the Confederate flag remains flying high over the South, promoted by groups and activists such as the Council of Conservative Citizens, the League of the South, and controversial restaurant owner Maurice Bessinger. Bessinger's signature barbecue sauce was removed from the shelves of national chain stores like Wal-Mart after revelations about his neo-Confederacy appeared in local newspapers following a dispute that centered on flying the Confederate battle flag without a permit. Chapter 7 utilizes theories of nationalism that argue education is central to the reproduction of the idea of a nation. A nation does not just exist; rather, it is continuously reproduced through everyday processes, from the circulation of national heroes on currency and rallying behind national sports stars, to the mundane reproduction of the nation in banal imagery, such as television weather maps that suggest the weather stops at the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico. Inculcating the next generation is always critical to nationalist projects, and the need to perpetuate neo-Confederacy leads proponents to homeschool their children and to teach peers about what they consider to be the truth about U.S. history.
Chapter 8 identifies the lineaments of current neo-Confederate literature in the nineteenth-century South, examining the fiction and poetry that has become the neo-Confederate curriculum for the educational practices discussed in Chapter 7. Another area of the on-going practice of producing neo-Confederate culture is the subject of Chapter 9: music. Here the authors review examples such as Stonewall Country, a musical about Confederate general "Stonewall" Jackson, and performers like the Free South Band, whose CDs are widely available on neo-Confederate web sites.
The last chapters argue that neo-Confederacy is neither as benign nor as marginalized as some commentators have implied. Chapter 10 is a work of investigative journalism that demonstrates just how far neo-Confederacy has penetrated into mainstream Confederate heritage groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Many active Civil War heritage enthusiasts now identify with neo-Confederate ideology. The result is that the SCV, which has almost 30,000 members, including some prominent public figures, now espouses an increasingly activist neo-Confederate political agenda. Finally, the afterword looks briefly at the reaction of neo-Confederates to the reelection of President George W. Bush in 2004 and notes the extent to which neo-Confederacy and neo-Confederate publications have moved beyond the South to gain a place within national U.S. conservatism. As proponents of neo-Confederacy establish think tanks like the Abbeville and Stephen D. Lee Institutes, the belief system is attracting members of the Republican Party and mainstream heritage groups like the SCV and UDC. Given that these organizations have greater resources, in terms of outreach, membership, and finances, neo-Confederacy is a worldview that is continuing to develop and attract proponents throughout the United States. As a result, we believe it is time for a sustained analysis of neo-Confederacy.