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The Confederate Memorial Tartan:
Officially Approved by the Scottish Tartan Authority
(2000) in Scottish Affairs, no. 31 (Spring) p. 55-84. The publisher is Unit for the Study of Government inScotland, Edinburgh University, Chisholm House, High School Yards, Edinburgh, EH1 1LZ, Scotland.
By Edward H. Sebesta
Biographical Note: Edward H. Sebesta is an independent scholar researching the political and social applications of the historical memory of the Confederate States of America. This includes the modern Neo-Confederate movement and its predecessors. He supplies authors, journalists, students, and anti-racist organizations with research materials.
I wish to thank Euan Hague for his generosity in the many hours he has given in helping me with this paper: proofreading; guidance in Scottish Studies; mailing overseas reference materials; and advice. Even more important has been his encouragement and moral support for me to write this paper.
I also wish to thank those who can not be named, but also made this paper possible.
In the United States a neo-Confederate movement has arisen in the last twenty years. It has adopted theories in which they see themselves and Southerners as being "Celtic." Part of this has been to adopt Scotland as the mother country and Scottish nationalism as their second nationalism. It identifies Scottish secession with Confederate secession and their current hopes for secession. The neo-Confederates are impacting upon Scottish culture, most notably in their proudest accomplishment, the Confederate Memorial Tartan. Books on Scottish culture also project Confederate identity into Scottish identity. They are strong supporters of the Scottish Nationalist Party.
What is the Neo-Confederate Movement?
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. Two articles in the Southern Partisan magazine are examples of these sentiments. One is by Tom Landess which condemns the Statue of Liberty for the ideas which it represents, such as the American idea of freedom and the story of immigration to America (Landess 1984). The other is by Robert Whitaker, who condemns as a sham to pander to Parisian liberals of the 18th century, the Declaration of Independence, known for the statement concerning the "self-evident truth" that all men are created equal (Whitaker 1983).
Essentially neo-Confederates believe that with the Civil War, 1861-1865, Abraham Lincoln was able to expand the power of the federal government beyond constitutional limits, and that with the defeat of the Confederacy the ideals of states' rights were defeated. They believe that the Fourteenth Amendment to the American Constitution, extending citizenship to all persons in the United States, in particular African-Americans, guaranteeing due process for all citizens and penalizing states for disenfranchisement, was illegally adopted during Reconstruction (1865-1876). To the neo-Confederates these measures resulted in the growth of federal government into what they call a "Leviathan," a monstrous beast.
The neo-Confederate historical world view encompasses all of American history, not just the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the South. The early founding era of the American Republic, the American Revolution (1763 -1783) until the Ratification of the American Constitution and adoption of the Bill of Rights (1791) in particular has a prominent place. Neo-Confederate writings on the subject work to define original intentions to justify both current political beliefs and the actions of their historical heroes, such as secession. In this historical view big government, racial integration, especially landmark Supreme Court school desegregation decision Brown vs. Brown (1954), gay rights, civil rights, feminism, minorities, taxes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, immigration, and other issues can be viewed as the result of the American Republic jumping the tracks during the Civil War and being out of control. The neo-Confederates seek to capitalize on discontent with these issues.
Since these issues are national, the movement is national, and neo-Confederate organizations are opening up chapters across the country. Since certain segments of the American public are highly discontented, the movement is growing rapidly. The League of the South starting from a small meeting in 1994 of around fifty people, has grown to 8,000 in 1999.
The neo-Confederates also focus on the usual historical questions, such as, "What caused the Civil War?" This serves to maintain the Confederate pantheon and the "Lost Cause" as supporting elements in their historical world view to justify their efforts.
The neo-Confederate movement sees as its progenitors the Southern Agrarians, (also known as the Nashville Agrarians.) Their foundation stone was the publication of the book, "I'll Take My Stand," 1930, in which the twelve contributors take their stand against modernity and what they saw as attacks on the South. Robert Penn Warren's contribution was "The Briar Patch" an offensively racist defense of segregation (12 Southerners 1930). In Frank Owsley's contribution, "The Irrepressible Conflict," an apologetic for slavery writes (12 Southerners 1930, p.77), "For the negroes were cannibals and barbarians, and therefore dangerous." The presence of Scotland in their thoughts is revealed in the following by John Crowe Ransom in his essay, "Reconstructed But Unregenerate," (12 Southerners 1930, p.24) discussing the position of the South in the United States:
Its net result might be to give to the South eventually a position in the Union analogous more or less to the position of Scotland under the British Crown - a section with a very local and peculiar culture that would, nevertheless be secure and respected. And Southern traditionalists may take courage from the fact that is was Scottish stubbornness which obtained this position for Scotland; it did not come gratuitously; it was the consequence of an intense sectionalism that fought for a good many years before its fight was won.
The leading figures of the Southern Agrarians were frequent contributors to the American fascist publication American Review which folded in the late 1930s. A tradition of not very convincing apologetics has arisen over time to excuse this fascist period. Their publication, "I'll Take My Stand," was immediately rejected as reactionary and by those familiar with agriculture as impractical. However, it was taken up as a defense of the South by reactionary intellectuals to promote a theme of an Agrarian pre-modern South against an industrial modern North. From a Neo-Confederate viewpoint Mark Malvasi describes the Southern Agrarians as founders in his Ph.D. thesis, "Risen From the Bloody Sod: Recovering the Southern Tradition" (Malvasi 1991). It was republished as a book with the title, "The Unregenerate South," by Louisiana State University (Malvasi 1997).
From the 1940s to the 1980s the neo-Confederates theorists were generally in retreat in positions in the universities and academic journals, primarily in the South. M.E. Bradford, late professor of English at the Catholic University of Dallas, edited and published with George Core, "The Southern Tradition At Bay," (1968), a posthumous compilation of University of Chicago English professor Richard M. Weaver's neo-Confederate writings. At the height of the American Civil Rights movement the title accurately described the fortunes of the neo-Confederates. Nevertheless they continued to write and be active.
In the late 1970s the Neo-Confederate movement begins to come to life. In 1979, Southern Partisan is first published with the lead article by John Shelton Reed a famous writer on the South. One Southern Agrarian, Andrew Nelson Lytle, ended up on the masthead of the Southern Partisan.
In the 1980s, as it has continued to be, the Southern Partisan was the primary vehicle for the dissemination of neo-Confederate thinking. It is directed by Richard Quinn a political consultant for Republican candidates such as Ronald Reagan and Strom Thurmond. Neo-Confederate professors and Reagan administration officials appear in the pages of the Southern Partisan. By 1999 an impressive list of prominent Republican Federal elected officials will have appeared in its pages: U.S. Representative Dick Armey; U.S. Senator, then Rep. Phil Gramm; U.S. Senator Jesse Helms; U.S. Senator John Ashcroft; and U.S. Senator Thad Cochrane and others. Also, an impressive list of Conservative leaders have been interviewed, from anti-feminist Phyllis Schalfy to televangelist and religious right leader Pat Robertson.
The Citizens Councils of America were the leading organization against civil rights legislation in American in the 1950s and 60s, popularly known as the White Citizens Councils or the Uptown Klan. A later day successor organization to the old Citizens Councils of America, is the Council of Conservative Citizens that was organized in the late 1970s. The Council of Conservative Citizens is steadily growing.
The 1980s and the 1990s would see two changes which would cause the neo-Confederate movement to surge with growth, moribund organizations expand, and new organizations to be created. One was the challenge by African-Americans and others to the Confederacy being the civil religion of the former major slave states and the reaction against their efforts. The other change was the break up of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Communist governments in Eastern Europe. This was a theme that has been brought up repeatedly by neo-Confederates. A tremendous world power, with armies, secret police, regular police, and all the institutions of politics and industry, disintegrates without any battles or assaults. This gave the neo-Confederates the idea that secession of the South could be done. Also the growing strength of secession in Quebec and Scotland has also given them hope.
The League of the South, a group seeking "Southern Independence by all honorable means" started in 1994 with four founding directors, Thomas Fleming, Grady McWhiney, Rev. Steve Wilkins, Clyde N. Wilson and founding president J. Michael Hill. Other more minor groups also have come into existence. The League and the Council of Conservative Citizens are the two major organizations which their own publications, videos, and books. They have memberships of 8,000 and 10,000 respectively. The major publications are Southern Partisan and Chronicles, the latter magazine in its advertisements in the Southern Patriot boasts that all Chronicles editors are members of the League of the South. The Ludwig von Mises Institute, a libertarian organization in Auburn, Alabama, promotes the idea of Southern secession and its officers are members of the League of the South. During the 1980s and continuing to the present, the neo-Confederate movement broadens the Lost Cause into a position on a range of issues, until a full reactionary agenda is derived from the Confederacy.
The neo-Confederate movement is not monolithic, having different emphases. The Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC) focuses on race, African-Americans, Hispanics, and others with a program against immigration and civil rights. The League of the South has a similar position, but avoids the notorious and explicit racist language of the CofCC. The League of the South also supports a wider "culture war" program and supports secession. The CofCC is against secession, feeling that it is not viable, and perhaps might result with an African-American dominated South. Chronicles and Southern Partisan have writers from both groups, so the two groups are not separate.
Neo-Confederates are not isolated in these organizations, but are widely dispersed in conservative organizations. The Conservative Book Club, with an editor that is a League of the South member, recommends in the Dec. 1998 catalog, a book, "Was Jefferson Davis Right?," which asserts that the American Pledge of Allegiance is the propaganda of a socialist plot. This is the leading American conservative book club with full page advertisements in almost all the conservative publications in America. This is just one example of the neo-Confederate penetration of the wider U.S. conservative movement.
The Confederate Celt
Grady McWhiney, founding director of the League of the South, popularized the concept of the Southerner being a Celt, after previous journal articles and conferences, in his book, co-authored with Perry D. Jamieson, titled, "Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage," (Jamieson and McWhiney, 1982). "Attack and Die" was reviewed by Rod Gragg, (Gragg 1983, Southern Partisan, p.38). He summarizes the theme of this book as follows:
The Southerners insisted on offensive tactics, the authors suggest, because the South traced its lineage to the ancient Celts, who loved combat and always fought aggressively. The Civil War, the authors claim was really a war between the Celts - represented by the South - and the English - represented by the North. "Southerners lost the Civil War because they were too Celtic," the authors believe, "and their opponents were too English."
Also, noted by Gragg, "conventional historians were not likely to accept this theory."
McWhiney expanded his Celtic ideas in his next book, "Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South," (McWhiney 1988). The forward to this book is written by Forrest McDonald, former Southern Partisan contributor. In this book McWhiney asserts that the culture of the white American South is a Celtic culture. This book is reviewed in the Nov. 1988 issue of Chronicles, by Clyde Wilson, another future founding director of the League of the South (Wilson 1988). Chronicles Chief Editor then and now is Thomas Fleming another founding director of the League of the South.
The first third of Wilson's review discusses the meaning of the Civil War before mentioning McWhiney. From Wilson's review are the following ideas.
1. Poor white subsistence farmers in the South, which McWhiney calls "Crackers," are an ethnic Celtic group in America.
2. The Civil War was "the largest ethnic rift in American history." Celts versus English Puritans.
3. The Southerner and Celt have a common culture of honor, unindustriousness, and willingness to fight.
Wilson summarizes, "McWhiney believes the distinctiveness of the South is in its redneckery, so to speak, and he gives that phenomenon historical depth by examination of similarities and continuities ranging over many centuries of Celtic Britain and the American South ..." (Wilson 1988, Chronicles, p. 24).
Wilson does bring up the older standard ethnic self-concept of the South, that is that they are descended from the southern English and cavaliers. This identity of the South as a region of Anglo-Saxon purity had been strongly believed in for generations, now it was suddenly and rapidly being erased from Neo-Confederate thought. Wilson, however argues for some inclusion of it. This is last argument for an "English" south that I know of in the entire neo-Confederate literature. Even the title "Cracker & Roundheads" is a play on the classic Southern theme "Cavalier and Roundhead," a theme which this article would eclipse.
Chronicles magazine, in the March 1989 issue, has an article by Grady McWhiney titled, "The Celtic Heritage of the Old South" (McWhiney 1989). The article is introduced with a drawing of a man somewhat horizontal, pouring what I assume is beer into his mouth with some of it running down his face onto the ground. He is in a field with a couple cows looking on. McWhiney starts his article by stating his view that Southerner and Northerners are culturally divided and "such cultural disharmony has divided the South from the North for more than three hundred years." McWhiney believes the South was settled by various Celtic groups and the North from the English lowlands resulting in "fundamental and lasting divisions" and eventually, he explains, the American Civil War (McWhiney 1989, Chronicles, p. 12) .
McWhiney explains what Celtic culture is by contrasting it to what he feels is English culture. Often he contrasts two paired groups, that of Celts and Southerners versus that of English and Yankees (McWhiney 1989, Chronicles, p. 13).
Unlike Yankees and Englishmen, who were compulsive plowers and often obsessed with agricultural improvements, Celts and Southerners, cultivated crops reluctantly and haphazardly.
Celts and Southerners, whose values were more agrarian than those of Englishmen and Yankees, wasted more time, rarely read or wrote, consumed more liquor and tobacco, and were less concerned with the useful and material.
McWhiney characterizes Celts and Southerners as a pastoral group that likes gambling, drinking, "raucous music," dancing, hunting, fishing, horse and dog racing. The Celts and Southerners lack ambition, are lazy, and avoid work because they are not materialistic. If these qualities do not sound good, McWhiney becomes a multiculturalist and says they are good in the values of Celtic civilization. The English and Yankees are repeatedly described as censorious and intolerant of Celtic culture. However, McWhiney wishes the reader to know that "when outsiders supply the discipline and constancy, Celts are capable of mighty achievements as British history has shown" (McWhiney 1989, Chronicles, p. 15) With friends like this, who needs enemies?
Grady McWhiney's next step in the popularization of his Celtic theories was with the publishing of the "Encyclopedia of Southern Culture" edited by Charles Reagan Wilson and William Ferris. Southern studies scholars considered it a monumental work, a landmark, and a major reference in Southern studies. It was reviewed in many newspapers. In the chapter on "Ethnic Life," McWhiney provides the entries for "Irish," "Scotch-Irish," and "Scots, Highland," (McWhiney 1989) The entries contain elements of his theories, though not in an obvious way to a person unfamiliar with his Celtic writings. McWhiney's Celtic ideas were no secret, but despite this the editors chose McWhiney and he and his theories are made authoritative, instead of being the fringe views of neo-Confederates.
The Southern Partisan also promotes McWhiney's Confederate Celt with David R. Wade review, "Cracker Culture" (Wade 1991). Wade we are told, is a "Southern Illinois Copperhead.," and he clearly approves of McWhiney's thesis.
The Rise of the Confederate Celtic Identity
Rising Secessionist Hopes
With the fall of the Soviet Union, secessionist movements seemed to be thriving all over the world. The rise of the Quebec, Scottish, and Northern Italian secessionist movements excited the imagination of the neo-Confederates. Quebec separatists only lost an independence referendum by a few percent. Political observers noticed that English speakers, especially racial minorities, had started to leave Quebec and that in a revote in a few years the secessionists were likely to win. The League of the South studied Norwegian secession and published an analysis in the Southern Patriot (Kibler 1996). Thomas Fleming repeatedly has reported in Chronicles magazine his visits to the secessionist Northern League in Italy. Their initial success in getting massive popular interest, inspired Fleming to propose a "Southern League," the former name of the League of the South. Fleming declares the Northern Italians to be Celts, in an article that is reprinted from the Southern Patriot, the official publication of the League of the South (Fleming 1996, 1997a). The Scottish movement was also increased in strength and the Scottish parliament was revived after almost 300 years. Suddenly the slogan, "The South Shall Rise Again" no longer seemed to be a romantic expression, but entered the realm of possibility in the minds of many neo-Confederates.
The Neo-Confederates were not slow to pick up the idea of devolution. A collection of essays on the Southern Agrarians, the book, "A Band of Prophets: The Vanderbilt Agrarians After Fifty Years," was published in 1982. One essay in this collection is "For Dixieland: The Sectionalism of I'll Take My Stand" (Reed 1982) In this essay Reed gives the racist and reactionary Southern Agrarians a 20th century third world revolutionary gloss.
In it Reed writes that Southern Agrarian Allen Tate's ideas "would now be called the 'Yugoslavian' model" (Reed 1982, p. 49). The Agrarians and Scottish nationalists are compared and devolution is brought up as follows:
But like the Scottish Nationalists, some of the Agrarians came to believe that toleration was not sufficient. Both Davidson (in Who Owns America?) and Owsley (in that essay approved by "quite a number of the others) called for what the British now call "devolution" - "a new constitutional deal," in Owsley's words, that would put most of the domestic functions of government in the hands of the regions.
Reed actually states the follows (Reed 1982, p. 51):
So what? What profit is there in putting Ransom, Davidson, and the others in a category that included Herder, Mazini, and Ataturk; Kenyatta and Lvesque; Ho Chi Minh and Gandhi? (Never mind that Gandhi shared Andrew Lytle's enthusiasm for spinning wheels.)
Reed after posing this question then goes on to prove to his satisfaction that they all do belong together. The fact that Random, Davidson, Owsley, and Lytle all contributed frequently to the notorious fascist magazine American Review is not discussed or mentioned by Reed. It is interesting to think of what Kenyatta and the others would have thought on reading the following by Davidson in his essay "Still Rebels, Still Yankees" from his devolutionist book, "The Attack on the Leviathan: Regionalism and Nationalism in the United States" (Davidson 1931, p.142):
Lynchings, the work of hot-heads and roustabouts, were regrettable; but what did a few lynchings count in the balance against the continual forbearance and solicitude that the Georgian felt he exercised toward these amicable children of cannibals, whose skins by no conceivable act of Congress or educational programs could be changed from black to white. [Emphasis mine.]
Davidson renewed the copyright for "I'll Take My Stand" in 1958 (12 Southerners 1930, copyright page) while directing the Tennessee Federation for Constitutional Government, a group he founded on states' rights principles to fight civil rights and preserve segregation (Malvasi 1997). More recently other Neo-Confederates in national publications have jumped on the idea of devolution and have grouped Neo-Confederate secessionism and states rights in with other secessionist and devolutionist groups around the world.
Thomas Fleming had a cover article in National Review, the leading conservative magazine in the United States, with the cover lead in, "Secession - Coming to a Town Near You," and titled "America's Crackup." (Fleming 1997c, National Review, p. 48). Various secessionist movements across the United States are discussed to give the impression this is not a sectional phenomenon and not exclusively Neo-Confederate. However, the other movements with the exception of the Republic of Texas which is not mentioned, are little more than a few individuals and an Internet webpage. Fleming compares these secessionist movements to other secessionists outside the United States. Fleming asserts there is some fraternal feeling between these secessionist movements and the League of the South as follows (Fleming 1997c, National Review, p.64):
But Dixienet is the most attractive stops on the information highway, and "rebmaster" George Kalas is swamped with messages of congratulation from all over the world, particularly from regions with their own independence movements - Scotland, Italy, and Quebec.
However, Fleming's opinions might make the reader think more of the Bosnian model of devolution when later in the same article he states (Fleming 1997c, National Review, p.64): :
In any major city, the peace is disturbed by Latino, black, and Asian nationalist gangs, which is some cases are only the shock troops of ethnic movements seeking the racial dismemberment of the United States.
Donald Livingston, League of the South theorist on secession, professor of philosophy at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, writes on secession for neo-Confederate publications. The University of Chicago has published his book, "Philosophical Melancholy and Delirium: Hume's Pathology of Philosophy," in 1998 which explains his secessionist theories (Livingston 1998). Also, in 1998, Society, a periodical of Transaction Publishers at Rutgers University published an 8,000 word article by Livingston on secession and devolution explaining many ideas from his book (Livingston 1998). The article contains many classic Lost Cause justifications for the Confederacy which is unsurprising as Transaction Publishers is a leading publisher of Neo-Confederate books. Finally the Texas Law Review incredibly published a nearly 10,000 word neo-Confederate essay in 1999 by League of the South member Marshall L. DeRosa (DeRosa 1999). The ideas of Livingston are extensively mentioned in the essay.
These Neo-Confederate appropriations of the European theories of devolution demands a review of what roughly similar ideas have meant in the United States.
In the United States, "devolution" was not a political term until recently. The anti-national government concept was "states' rights" and in Lost Cause mythology is given as the justification for the secession of eleven slave states. The advocacy of states' rights has always been seen as a restoration of the Constitution, as they see it was in the past, usually prior to the American Civil War.
States' rights has been invoked by various movements briefly from abolitionists in Wisconsin before the Civil War to anti-Prohibitionists in the early 20th century (Prohibitionists advocated making alcohol illegal.) However, primarily and overwhelmingly, States' Rights in the United States has been invoked in the support of white supremacy in the former major slave states in opposition to all legislation that might undermine or oppose it. States' Rights was given as a rationale to oppose the ratification of the 13th amendment to the American constitution abolishing slavery (Nation, August 5, 1865, p. 133). Opposition to the proposed Dyer anti-lynching legislation in 1922 was based on supposed dangers of centralization that it would bring. States' rights was the theme of the 1948 Dixiecrats in revolt from the Democratic party over civil rights. Endless other examples could be noted.
A comparison of the United States of America and Europe on the issues of political centralization and decentralization should be written, but it is beyond the scope of this paper.
Braveheart and Rob Roy
Into this juncture of secessionist hopes and growing popularity of Celtic identity theories with neo-Confederates came the movies Braveheart and Rob Roy, both released in 1995. These two movies were enthusiastically viewed by Neo-Confederates and reviewed by the neo-Confederate press. Movie reviews in the neo-Confederate press explain Braveheart and Rob Roy in a Confederate context and their meaning for the neo-Confederate movement.
Inspired by these movies, the theories of Grady McWhiney swept over the neo-Confederate movement. Scottish nationalism became the second nationalism of the Confederate nationalists. It results in a Confederate Celtic cultural programs run by neo-Confederate organizations and a world view in which ideas and events are explained in reference to Confederate Celtic theories. An example is the conceptualization of Northern Italians as being Celts by Thomas Fleming as mentioned previously.
This movement results in a League of the South Celtic Conference in 1996, see below, and a Confederate Tartan being designed in 1995 that was later approved by the Scottish Tartan Authority. This tartan is eventually sold in neo-Confederate publications and on the Internet.
Mary Alice Cook reviews Rob Roy in the Southern Partisan in an article titled "The Scottish-Southern Connection: Part I." Cook first explains her Celtic roots, then gives some historical background on the conflict that is the basis of the movie. The review primarily draws parallels between Rob Roy's struggle and the Confederacy. Early in the article Cook writes (Cook 1995, Southern Partisan, p.42):
The Highlanders generally accepted a king in common with the Lowlanders, but did not feel bound to him by feudal ties as did the people of the South. The connection to the attitudes of the people of the American South to central government is obvious. In so far as the "rulers" recognize and respect the limits of government, those in authority can be tolerated. But when the boundary is crossed, as it was in the United States in 1861, a spirited and freedom loving people will rebel.
For Cook, Rob Roy's wife Mary's ability to withstand suffering, "calls to mind the stories with which we are all familiar of the great sacrifices made by women of the South for the protection and aid of the fighting men." Cook feels that the description of Rob Roy's character is "wonderful" and "could fit any number of American Southerners at any time in our history," and says "I feel compelled to name them." So she does name a series of Confederate heroes from General Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Imperial Wizard, the head of the Ku Klux Klan during Reconstruction, to Gen. Robert E. Lee, head of the Confederate armies (Cook 1995, Southern Partisan, p.43).
Finally Cook compares the Scottish Highlands to the Appalachian mountains in the American South. This is somewhat strange, since Appalachian residents in the South during the Civil War are known to have been strongly against secession and the lowland slave-owning interests. They did rebel against the Confederacy with a history of successes such as West Virginia being separated from Virginia and being persecuted and the victim of massacres elsewhere. The fact that this rebellion of the Appalachians against the lowland Confederates might be the more obvious analogy to Rob Roy does not occur to Cook. About half as many Southerners fought against the Confederacy as those who fought for the Confederacy. Many Southern unionists came from the Appalachian mountains and other areas in the South where there was subsistence farming and little or no slavery. The other article, "Scottish-Southern Connection: II" describes article's author Steve Du Roches' visit to a placed called the Grand Ole Opry in Glasgow, Scotland.
Braveheart is the film that has been the central focus of the Neo-Confederates. It also has had an impact on the general American public. J. Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, professor at a historically African-American Stillman college in Alabama, has a review of Braveheart in the November 1995 issue of Chronicles. (Hill J M 1995b). The issue's cover theme was "Free-Minded Scots" with a large tree growing out of a map of Scotland with a banner with the word "liberty" in its boughs. In the background is a red shield bordered with Celtic intertwinings. J. Michael Hill has published two books on Scottish history, "Celtic Warfare," J. Donald Press, Edinburgh (Hill J M 1986), and "Fire & Sword: Sorley Boy MacDonnell and the Rise of Clan Ian Mor, 1538-90," (Hill J M 1993) Aegis Press, Fort Worth, Texas. Hill runs a mail order store for Scottish books, Dalriada Books.
Hill's review is titled "Angry White Males." This title is not a satiric disparagement of the movie. His opening sentence is (Hill J M 1995b, Chronicles, p.45):
In recent films, "angry white males" are generally portrayed as psychopaths, therefore, almost astonishing that even a good conservative like Mel Gibson should have chosen to make a movie on the life of William Wallace."
To Hill, Wallace is a hero because he "displayed all the characteristics deplored by our prevailing anti-European, anti-heterosexual male culture." The movie was criticized in New York, Hill believes, "because it appeals to all the things that New York despises, namely, Christian devotion, populism, patriotism, home rule, self-defense, well defined sex roles, traditional morality, and self-sacrifice for a noble cause." All this is in the first half of the first paragraph of the review (Hill J M 1995b, Chronicles, p.45) . Hill recommends the movie as follows (Hill J M 1995b, Chronicles, p.46):
Apart from a few bits of gratuitous sex the film seems aimed at Chronicles readers. The men are men, the women are women, and the in-between are portrayed as silly and incompetent.
Then finally Hill describes the story of William Wallace. Edward the II is compared to Abraham Lincoln as a tyrant. The concluding paragraph draws Confederate parallels.
Celtic peoples whether in 13th Century Scotland or in the 19th Century American South have been targets for subjugation and extermination..
Wallace's army is compared to the Confederate army. Hill draws an Anti-Civil Rights lesson about independent Scots from Braveheart, "And perhaps this legacy is why Celts have refused to present themselves as government-protected group 'victim' group," (Hill J M 1995b, Chronicles, p.45).
The Scottish Issue of Chronicles Further Reviewed
Besides Hill's review of Braveheart, the entire Nov. 1995 issue of Chronicles bears a short review. Douglas Young, Scottish National Party (SNP) official during World War II, taught both Fleming and E. Christian Kopff their Ph.D.'s. E. Christian Kopff has also been a contributor to Southern Partisan. In this issue Fleming has an article titled, "The Winter of Scottish Discontent" which starts at a Highland festival in Rockford, Illinois, and ends up in a visit to Scotland, including SNP offices, and complaints about American cultural influences there. It is a wandering essay of his thoughts on Scotland from history to whiskey (Fleming 1995).
The E. Christian Kopff article, "A Free-Minded Scot" is a biography of Douglas Young focusing on his efforts to undermine the British war effort against the Nazis. Young is portrayed as a hero for his efforts (Kopff 1995).
League of the South President J. Michael Hill has an article, "Scots Nationalism, Yesterday and Today." The article interweaves neo-Confederate ideology with the history of the union of the Scottish and English parliaments, bringing up Richard M. Weaver, and includes statements such as "..., could not survive without the means to defend itself from the alien ideologies of the 18th-century version of the New World Order," (Hill J M 1995a, Chronicles, p. 18). League of the South lecturer, Don Livingston has an article on "Dave Hume and American Liberty." Jeremy Black, has an article on "Contingency and Chance in Scottish Culture," G. Douglas Nicoll, author of "To the Immortal Memory," a history of the Burns Club in Rockford, Illinois writes on the "Caledonians of the Heartland," the "Heartland" being a term for the American Midwest. Marian Kester Coombs, in "Mad Scots and Indians" compares the Scots to Native Americans and concludes her article with (Coombs 1995, Chronicles, p. 48):
We are all, German, Brit, Scot, and Lakota alike, the pitiable relicts of free ancestors. And their final round for the One World Reservation, we are all redskins now."
Buaidh! - The League of the South Adopts Scottish Nationalism
In the July - August 1997 issue of the Southern Patriot, the official publication of the League of the South, J. Michael Hill, thanks the members attending the Fourth Annual Conference in Biloxi for their support. He also thanks the attendees for "your exuberant cheers of 'Buaidh! Buaidh!' at the conference's end." A footnote informs the reader that "Buaidh!" is pronounced "BOO-ay and is the Gaelic word for victory" (Hill J M 1997a Southern Partisan, p. 26). The League of the South by now had convinced their members that the neo-Confederate movement was a Celtic movement.
The League of the South started in 1994. Early in its history it would start to promote the idea of the Celtic Southerners in its publication. In the Southern Patriot is a short unsigned editorial on the movie Braveheart staring, "The Southern League highly recommends Mel Gibson's movie 'Braveheart'" and ends the article with, "Unreconstructed Southerners will find it difficult to miss the parallels between the Scot and our Confederate forebears," (Southern Patriot, May-June 1995, p. 18). After this, occasional articles would make occasional references to Celtic or "Anglo-Celtic" ideas concerning the South.
In 1996 the Celtic theories receive heavy emphasis in the Southern Patriot. In the March-April 1996 issue, J. Michael Hill (1996a)discusses a strategy to draw in the supporters of Pat Buchanan into the League of the South. The strategy is stated in terms of neo-Confederate Celtic theories. Hill (1996a p.10) writes, "Key to our success will be the regeneration of Anglo-Celtic cultural solidarity in the South." Hill claims, "Many of the Founding Fathers and our Confederate forebears were of Anglo-Celtic origin, ..." and sees their ideas under attack from multiculturalism. The idea of the Founding Fathers being Celtic is repeated in Trent Lott's Tartan Day resolution in the United States Senate. Hill believes there needs to be a program to teach American Southerners their Celtic past of "our Anglo-Celtic cousins." Additionally he wishes to teach Southerners, "the striking parallels between Southern Nationalism in the 19th century and Scottish Nationalism in the 13th and 14th,..." Hill continues in the article to pair what he sees as historical parallels: the Highland Clearances and Reconstruction; "War for Southern Independence" and "the 18th century Scottish Jacobite uprisings" as Hill states it. Hill concludes his article, that unless Southerners learn this Celtic history they will be unable "to counter a mounting campaign of cultural genocide" (Hill J M 1996b, Southern Patriot, p. 10).
In the article Hill announces the first Southern Celtic Conference, April 6, 1996 in Biloxi, Mississippi where he will be speaking. The Conference is later released as a set of tapes. The lectures are: "The 'Anglo-Celts' - The Celtic Foundation of Southern Culture by Barry Reid McCain; "The Southern Celtic Contribution to the Church/State Debate" by Rev. Eugene C. Case; "The Highland Clearances & Southern Reconstruction" by Dr. J. Michael Hill; "An 'Anglo-Celtic' Cultural Renaissance" by Dr. J. Michael Hill; "Saving the South," by Dr. Grady McWhiney; and "Scots and Southerners" Two Captive Nations" by Dr. Thomas Fleming.
McCain's speech is reprinted in the Sept.-Oct. Southern Patriot (McCain 1996). McCain is a member of the Mississippi League of the South board, and is also president and founder of Trans-Alba. We are told he travels extensively in the Celtic fringe and speaks Gaelic. This four page article starts with the Celtic settlement of the South and the South as having a Celtic culture. The article ends however on how he sees this identity being persecuted by "The coalition (the usual suspects: various Leftists, Europhobic academics, Feminists, the media, etc.) aggressively works to deconstruct the ethnicity of the indigenous Southerner." to force Southerners to become "cogs in a multi-cultural, nihilistic 'global village',.." (McCain 1996, Southern Patriot, p.37).
In the same issue J. Michael Hill has an editorial against immigration which he states in terms of defense of "Anglo-Celts" and concludes with his goal of ethnic supremacy in the South as shown in the following quotes (Hill J M 1996b, Southern Patriot, p. 34):
Instead, the present day South is the remnant of a nation built on the realities of place and kin that we must revitalise to the best of our abilities. At its core is a European population, especially Anglo-Celts that must be preserved as the dominant majority.
It is past time that we can turn a deaf ear to these bogus charges and set about undermining any attempts to reconstruct a modern Tower of Babel on the rubble of our ancient Anglo-Celtic civilisation. [Hill is referring to charges of racism.]
The Southern league envisions a South where our borders are sealed against massive Third World immigration; a South where the interests of the core population of Anglo-Celts is protected from the ravages of so-called multi-culturalism and diversity.
The theme of the persecuted Southerner is repeated endlessly in neo-Confederate writing.
When Scotland voted for a parliament, the Southern Patriot had an unsigned short one-column article with an illustration of the Charleston Mercury newspaper of 1861 with the infamous headline, "The Union Is Dissolved." The Scottish referendum vote directly goes to the question of Southern secession. The first sentence is devoted to the vote. The second sentence states that the vote is 290 years after the Act of Union. The third and fourth sentences compares the population and area of Scotland and Tennessee. The rest of the article discusses the possibility of Southern secession with the statement, "If the Scot can do it, why cant we.?" (Southern Patriot, Sept.-Oct. 1997 p.10). [Note: The League of the South has adopted its own spelling rules. Can't is spelled cant. It is not an error in quotation.]
The progress of the Scottish National Party is followed in the Southern Patriot in the May - June 1998 issue. In the same issue there is a call published for an international conference of secessionists and similar groups in Italy 1999. Among the several proposed groups to be invited is the SNP. Scotland and the SNP fill the thoughts of the League of the South. There is not any evidence that the SNP has reciprocated that has come to my attention. However, the SNP has not made any clear statement rejecting the Neo-Confederates either.
In summary the neo-Confederates have come to think of Scottish history as their history and their concept of Celtic identity infuses every aspect of their own identity as Confederates. Even in so-called more mainstream groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) the Celtic identity theories are finding their way. The SCV offers a Scottish Dirk as a fund-raiser. It will be given to "a proud new owner during the awards and banquet ball at our next SCV national convention in Mobile, Alabama" (Confederate Veteran, Vol. 1 1999, p. 3)
The Confederate Battle flag has a blue "X" on a red background. The "X" is the same shape as the "X" in the Scottish flag. The Confederate Battle flag pattern is on the second and third National Confederate flag as a canton in the upper left hand corner. One of the beliefs of the neo-Confederate movement is that the American Civil war was a theological conflict between an Orthodox Christian Confederacy and what they feel is a godless North. Neo-Confederates argue that the Confederate flag is a Christian symbol of the Christian South.
The most famous expression of this belief was during a controversy in 1996 in South Carolina. Gov. Beasley had decided to attempt to remove the Confederate Battle flag from the State Capitol Dome and transfer it somewhere else. The neo-Confederates lead a furious opposition. During this some Christian ministers in South Carolina released a paper titled, "The Moral Defense of the Confederate Flag: A Special Message for Southern Christians" prepared by "15 Ministers" which received wide publicity there and later was reprinted in the Southern Partisan (15 Ministers 1996). The introduction of this address informs the reader that the article is modeled on an April 1863 address by Confederate ministers then in an address titled, "An Address to Christians Throughout the World." The 1996 address expresses the idea of an Orthodox Christian South and the American Civil War being a theological conflict.
One section is titled, 'The St. Andrew's Cross." It opens with, "It is important to emphasize that the Confederate flag itself is a Christian symbol." (15 Ministers 1996, Southern Partisan, p. 17). The section goes on to explain that the Confederate flag is based on the Cross of St. Andrew. The next section is titled, "Confederate Flags as Christian Symbols," with a section following titled, "The Theology of the Flag." This belief about the Cross of St. Andrew and the Confederate flag is not specific to this one neo-Confederate group, but has been mentioned in other publications.
One disturbing aspect of the Neo-Confederate movement's adoption of Celtic identity theories is the belief by Neo-Confederates that a Celtic heritage is a violent heritage.
In Chronicles, Aug. 1997, J. Michael Hill, president of the League of the South has an article titled, "Honor, Violence, and Civilization." It starts with a discussion of a sociological study which claimed that Southern white males were more prone to violence and had testosterone surges when they were aggressive. Hill is pleased with this image, and Hill quotes someone else that southern "men still had their anatomy intact after several decades of government-imposed feminization" (Hill J M 1997b, Chronicles, p. 17). This leads to Hill quoting the Celtic theories of Grady McWhiney, another founding director of the League of the South. After this, Hill follows with a long string of people Southern or Scottish who have had martial or bloody histories, ending with traditional American frontier hero David Bowie and his bloody brawls. The article concludes with Hill's hope that this tradition will continue or otherwise, "with the South will go the last remnant of a vigorous, self-confident, and manly Western civilization," (Hill J M 1997b, Chronicles, p. 19).
It if is not clear what this all means, the Jan. 1998 issue of Chronicles, makes it absolutely clear. The cover theme is "Private Justice, Blood Feuds, Armed Citizens, Private Armies, and Direct Action Against Bullies, Child Molesters, and Other Creeps." If you are wondering what "direct action" means, it does not mean picketing. It means direct violent attacks on someone they feel deserves it. Most people would call it lynch law.
J. Michael Hill's, article, "Celtic Justice," is a long article in which Hill describes his ideas of what Celtic justice is (Hill J M 1998). In his discussion of the 1997 summer peace talks in Northern Ireland, Scottish clans and the Irish Republican army are compared as follows:
"Justice administered by private associations, whether a medieval Scottish clan or the Irish Republican Army, is along standing tradition in the Celtic world," (Hill J M 1998, Chronicles, p. 13). The article then ranges over the centuries from the 11th to more modern times as a prolog to his discussion of the Irish Republican Army and their history for the purpose as Hill says, "To understand how the Celtic idea of private justice has evolved up to the current century ..." , (Hill J M 1998, Chronicles, p. 13). One interesting passage is as follows (Hill J M 1998, Chronicles, p. 15):
Alasdair MacColla, the champion of the Clan Donald during the Royalist-Covanter war in Scotland in the 1640s, was known by the rival Clan Campbell as fear thollaidh nan tighean -- the destroyer of houses. His Royalist campaigns against the hated Campbells of Argyll in 1644-45 exhibited a fierceness unknown under the restrictions of the common blood feud. To use the words of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, it was "war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt."
Clan or Klan, evidently to Hill they are the same. Finally Hill concludes this article about Celtic justice with his view of America's future (Hill J M 1998, Chronicles, p. 15):
But Ulster could be a harbinger of things to come. As Western civilization crumbles around us, one can only wonder when that day will come again and how modern Americans will handle the messy business of administering their own justice.
Thomas Fleming, founding director of the League of the South, and editor of Chronicles, and president of the Rockford Institute, makes it even more clear in an article by him titled, "Playing God, or Being Men.?" (Fleming 1998) It starts out with neighborhood group picketing convicted child molesters in their neighborhood upon their release from authorities and a long denunciation of the criminal justice system. After stating that "civilization is in collapse" it concludes with a case in Northern California where a mother walked into a court room and shot a man being tried for child molestation. The concluding last two sentences (Fleming 1998, Chronicles, p. 12).
She was taking the law back into her own hands, picking up the sword of justice which the state had cast aside. As Ellie Nessler said in her statement: "I had played God ... but I don't think I'll lose any sleep over it."
Sexual transgression as the justification for vigilante violence, instead of referring to the courts for punishment, has an old history in the South. Except here it should be seen that there will be a new class of targets of justified for vigilante violence; instead of the old standby of African-American men accused of being rapists. However, the League of the South has a article by nationally syndicated columnist Charlie Reese, a member, on their webpage titled, "Race War Will Continue Until We Can Talk About It Honestly" with a leading topic of blacks raping whites. The old issue behind lynching is evidently not forgotten either.
The application of these Celtic theories is also demonstrated clearly in an article in the same issue, by James Hill, about a Larry Naman whose attempted assassination of elected official, Mary Rose Wilcox failed when the shot to her head went into her "backside" (Hill J 1998). The article makes it quite clear that they consider her a very deserving target of Naman's violence, and that Naman is some type of hero. The article quotes a Barry Graham, libertarian candidate in Phoenix, Arizona, "The violence will start small, and it will grow. And it's all due to the fact that you are violating the rights of individual people and elimination peaceful alternatives." (Hill J 1998, Chronicles, p. 6)After then discussing a string of violence incidents and threats in the Phoenix area where Wilcox was shot, James Hill concludes (Hill J 1998, Chronicles, p.6):
Did Wilcox deserve to end up in a hospital bed? Of course not. But as Barry Graham concluded, "it was her arrogance that put her there, and what happened to her should serve as a lesson to her and everyone else."
It should not be surprising that a Mississippi League of the South candidate for public office had his first campaign meeting on the Klan Hotline as reported by the Southern Institute at Tulane University in Louisiana. A man called Carl Ford is the "Attorney General" for the Mississippi State Chapter of the League of the South and; according to a Vicksburg Post article, the attorney for Sam Bowers, the KKK leader being tried for the murder of Vernon Dahmer during the civil rights movement era in America (1960s) (The Vicksburg Post, May 20, 1998, p.A3). This case has had major coverage in the press. A man called Carl D. Ford is a former Commander-in-Chief of the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) who along with others, including U.S. Senator Trent Lott, produced a recruitment video, with Lott as the spokesperson, for the SCV in 1991.
To have a real revival of Klan type violence, you would also have to have the indifference of the Federal government to such violence. In this, the stand of the League of the South and other neo-Confederates is very consistent. Southern Partisan and Texas Republic condemned Housing & Urban Development Secretary Cisneros' actions against the KKK actions in public housing projects in Vidor, Texas. Samuel Francis condemns Hate Crime legislation in the pages of Southern Partisan (Francis 1993). The first paragraph in the first issue of Southern Patriot, the publication of the League of the South, President J. Michael Hill condemns Janet Reno for her use of Federal agents to protect Camp Sister Spirit, a hog farm and retreat run by a Lesbian group in Mississippi from violent attacks (Hill J M 1994, Southern Patriot, p.1). Both the magazines Texas Republic and Southern Partisan attack the Federal government's actions in Waco, Texas.
Will the Neo-Confederates get violent in the immediate future, probably not. However, they are working on characterizing violence as a part of Celtic Heritage, and politically working to disable every and any thing that might act as a restraint against violence. Should the Federal government slack off for a moment in its stand against hate crimes and vigilante violence, they will be prepared and ready to take advantage of it. In the meantime they will talk of their dreams and justifications of violence. Founding League of the South board member, Thomas Fleming, is actively fighting a Federal Court order for the integration of the Rockford, Illinois school system. In the Rockford Register Star, Jan. 28, 1997, Fleming is quoted as saying in an article published in the Feb. 1997 issue of Chronicles, "Once upon a time in America, people like Judge Mahoney would have experienced the exquisite sensation of tar and feathers applied to sensitive skin that has never felt the heat of a day's work." (Fleming 1997b, Chronicles, p. 9) He also held up as heroes vigilantes who had burned down a newspaper office in Rockford during the frontier era of Illinois in response to the papers denunciation of a lynching as being lawless. The newspaper which was burned down then by vigilantes was the Rockford Register Star which today opposed Fleming who calls for "spirit of community outlawry" (Fleming 1997b, Chronicles, p. 11).
The Popular Legitimization of League of the South Propaganda Activities
More recently, the Celtic activities of Neo-Confederates have received a major breakthrough in being portrayed as a spontaneously arising and authentic folk practice in the South by a leading Southern Studies academic periodical.
In Southern Cultures there is an article titled, "Scottish Heritage Southern Style" by Celeste Ray (Ray 1998) The comment in the table of contents under the title states: "Scottish and Southern heritage meld into a new kind of southern identity, founded on lost causes but refashioned for today's South" (Southern Cultures, Vol. 4 No. 2, p. i). The article discusses romanticism, Sir Walter Scott, and what John Shelton Reed calls a "grievance identity." Ray shows a re-enactor Carl Ford who in his outfit who, "combines Confederate and Scottish garb at the Biloxi, Mississippi Scottish Games & Celtic Festival," (Ray 1998, Southern Cultures, p. 29). Under another photo, the caption reads, "A color guard from the Scottish-American Military Society leads a 'Tartan Parade' as the pipe-band following plays 'Dixie." (Ray 1998, Southern Cultures, p. 37)
Ms. Ray does mention that at these Celtic events they burn crosses, and that the KKK burning of crosses comes from the film "Birth of a Nation." However, Ms. Ray sanitizes these doings by saying, "Participants seem unaware of the implications such an event might have had in Griffith's day. In fact, heritage lore leaves a gap in southern-Scottish awareness between the Civil War and the 'revival' of the latter twentieth century," (Ray 1998, Southern Cultures, p. 35). This in itself is rather remarkable. Is there someone, anyone in America who does not know what a cross burning is? Especially Southerners which are frequently claimed to have a love of history? Especially these Southerners burning crosses and wearing Scottish and Confederate costume, are we to believe that they are really that historically illiterate?
I find Ms. Ray's article to be misleading. The entire article does not mention the neo-Confederate movement once or anything about neo-Confederate Celtic racial identity theories. Ms. Ray's article does not even allude to it. However, she could hardly have missed it. For example, she states (Ray 1998, Southern Cultures, p. 40) :
In 1997 the interweaving of Scottish and southern heritage found expression with the Alabama introduction of a Confederate Memorial Tartan featuring a set of Confederate gray and battle-flag red. In this way, through costume and imagery, simplified visions of both "Highlandness" and "southerness" are comparable and blended by those raised on the latter. Southernerness becomes an unproblematic outgrowth of ancestral proclivities.
Well how "unproblematic" this tartan is, is open to question. This particular Confederate Tartan was the background on the League of the South website one year and is designed by a Mississippi League of the South Chapter Chairman John Cripp. (League of the South, http://www.dixienet.org, Vol. 2 No. 2). Who Carl Ford is has already been mentioned. Unaware of the meaning of cross burning indeed!
The neo-Confederates are attending Scottish games, and are pushing this Confederate-Scottish ideology. The Council of Conservative Citizens, (www.cofcc.org), reports on the Capitol CofCC chapter visit to Highland games festival (Citizen Informer, 3rd Quarter 1998, p. 4) as follows:
Over the weekend of July 25-26, a group of members attended the big Scottish Highland games festival in Alexandria, VA, and handed out over a thousand specially designed fliers warning that American Scots will be an "endangered species' when the U.S. has a non-European majority. Chapter Chairman Mark Cerr reports that the fliers were "greatly received" and quite a few have already joined the CofCC. Over the coming months they plan to visit more Scottish and other ethnic European festivals.
On the same page is an advertisement for the Confederate Tartan by Strictly Southern.
The bibliography of Ray's article includes the neo-Confederate Celtic writings of Grady McWhiney, founding director of the League of the South. The League of the South is currently (Feb. 1999) advertising the Confederate Memorial Tartan by Strictly Southern on their webpage which is proudly proclaimed as being an approved tartan of the Scottish Tartan Authority.
Ms. Ray tries to redeem it all by showing Creek Chief Chinnubbie who is a Native American who is wearing a Native American Headdress combined with a Tartan because he is both Scottish and Native American. Under the guise of diversity, mentioning Alex Haley's "Roots" and this individual, Ms. Ray concludes the following (Ray 1998, Southern Cultures, p. 44):
Scottish heritage is absorbed into the southern identity on the Old South model, but in the 1990s, even old mythologies can be further romanticized in a multicultural form.
Chief Chinnubbie is Chinnubbie McIntosh, son of Dode McIntosh famous for his Creek and Confederate hybrid rebel yell. Dode's obituary in The Daily Sunday Telegraph also noted with approval that he was opposed to Native American militants in the 1960s. His great-grandfather Daniel McIntosh raised a Creek cavalry for the Confederacy. His great-great-grandfather William McIntosh was assassinated by the Red Stick Native Americans for his betrayal of his fellow Native Americans in the infamous episode of the "Trail of Tears." (The Daily Telegraph, Sept. 9, 1999, p. 19) (The Tulsa World, Sept. 19, 1999)
John Shelton Reed is the co-editor of Southern Cultures and he certainly knows what is going on. He formerly contributed to the magazine Southern Partisan in its early years both under his name and as "J.R. Vanover." He has been on the masthead of Chronicles magazine as a Contributing Editor since October 1985 until July 1997. He started with Chronicles shortly after Thomas Fleming, another founding director of the League of the South, became the magazine's Editor. John Shelton Reed is also one of the two pioneers of what the neo-Confederates call the "Southern Nationalist movement." From the cover article of the Southern Partisan "The South As a Nation," by William (Bill) Lamar Cawthorn Jr. writes on the origins of this movement (Cawthorn 1997, Southern Partisan, p. 19):
Long before the fall of Communism and the new possibilities for nationalism which that momentous development unleashed, Robert Whitaker and John Shelton Reed in the early 1980s raised the issue of Southern Nationalism in the pages of Southern Partisan.
First Cawthorn discusses Whitaker, then he returns to the topic of Reed as follows (Cawthorn 1997, Southern Partisan, p. 20):
Noting influential separatist movements in Scotland and Quebec and in other Western countries, John Shelton Reed asked why the United States was immune. He gave some very cogent reasons, but also wrote in 1982 that he wouldn't be surprised to see a Southern separatist movement emerge. "I for one would find an American politics where the proper balance between federal power and decentralization was subject to debate preferable to one where an arrogant central government recognizes no limits on its authority."
With this understanding of who Reed really is, we can see why this article by Ms. Ray was published in Southern Cultures.
Academic Acceptance and Rejection of Confederate Celtic Theories
The response in scholarly venues to the Confederate Celtic theories has been mixed. A major response, if not the predominate response, is that the theories of McWhiney and others are nonsense. The theories are held to be proposed in defiance of the facts of Celtic and ethnographic history, use badly flawed methodology and very questionable reasoning and, especially, shuffled definitions.
Michael P. Johnson's final sentence in his devastating review of "Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South," is "surprisingly, the book has no index entry for 'malarkey'" (Johnson 1989).
Rowland Berthoff systematically dismantles and lambastes the "Confederate Celtic" theory in an article titled, "Celtic Mist Over the South" in the Journal of Southern History (Berthoff 1986). The following section of Berthoff's article exposes Neo-Confederate reasoning:
McDonald and McWhiney seek to disarm such criticism by conceding that "a more accurate phraseology than Celtic ... would be 'people from the British isles who were historically and culturally non-English' but somehow," they plead, "that phrase seems less catchy." If that, together with their recognition that "the various peoples we treat as Celtic were far from identical ...," seems to throw the game away, they nevertheless insist that all the non-English were "a single general cultural group," so that contemporary descriptions of Welshmen or Highlanders can be indiscriminately applied to Lowlanders, Ulster Scots, or the English on their fringes.
However, much more important is the concluding section of a letter by Berthoff to the American History Forum criticizing a Confederate Celtic article that had been published in it. After tearing the article apart Berthoff writes (Berthoff 1982):
But why harp on what anyone with the least interest in such matters will recognize as a hopeless muddle? Unfortunately, three of our leading journals have now placed their editorial imprimatur on it. Even newspapers feature writers have been more skeptical (Houston Chronicle, November 30, 1980, sec. 2, p. 10). But, then, perhaps the display of proverbial indolence in research and impetuosity in publication by two Southern historians is itself a demonstration of their thesis.
Indeed, there has been the acceptance or indulgence of Confederate Celtic theories in the American press. An example would be a review by Herman Hattaway of "Attack and Die" by McWhiney and Jamieson (Hattaway 1983). Two notable quotes are:
Some readers will find this book fun, others will think it frivolous, but many will consider it thought-provoking. It is a veritable kaleidoscope, showing pictures ranging from as seemingly hyperbolic as the authors' opening statement .... to those that are clearly representative of the finest scholarship to be found anywhere.
Most interestingly, they say, "Had Civil War armies still been armed with smoothbores, the Confederates well might have retained their independence." But the Rebels, far less than their more reasonable (though not always prescient) foe, continued to attack ... and die.
Hattaway is fascinated by a dream of the Confederacy that might have been.
In The Journal of Southern History, "Attack and Die" is reviewed by James I. Robertson, Jr. who writes (Robertson 1983):
Yet it should be emphasized here that McWhiney and Jamieson are not merely tossing out sensationalistic statements or expressing unfounded opinions. Copious footnotes adorn every page, and the bibliographical essay reflects a mastery of the literature of the literature relating to the subjects.
In a work as sweeping as this, an error or two is inevitable. Hence the authors may perhaps be excused in their Chancellorsville discussion for relying on the totally untruthful "reminiscences" of Union general Alfred Pleasonton.
James I. Robertson is a former editor of the scholarly Journal Civil War History: A Journal of the Middle Period. In the 1960s James I. Robertson was the executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission. James I. Robertson is on the masthead of the Neo-Confederate publication the Journal of Confederate History, famous for its promotion of the myth of Black Confederate soldiers. He has written a letter to Southern Partisan expressing his admiration for the publication and he has been interviewed in the same magazine concerning his book on Stonewall Jackson. Robertson is considered a major and respected figure in Civil War history.
However, in considering these "copious footnotes" the review of Elizabeth A.H. John gives an estimate of their worth (John 1989):
Unhappily, this volume poses exasperating barriers to the thorough consideration that the thesis deserves. There is no bibliography to facilitate examination of the evidence. Instead, one must comb densely packed omnibus footnotes that do not always show clearly which citation supports which particular. Even more disappointingly, McWhiney begs key issues of methodology, merely referring the reader to articles that he and McDonald have published in sundry journals, without even supplying a convenient list of them. In short, this book muffs the chance to display in full evidential and methodological context a thesis of considerable import.
Grady McWhiney and the other Confederate Celtic theorists get published in refereed journals, and get favorable reviews in referred journals. McWhiney's theories did not keep him from being chosen by the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, which gives him further credibility. All have found Southern universities presses and even a Scottish publisher for their books. This indulgence for Neo-Confederate authors is by no means confined to the Southern universities. Harvard University Press published, "The Confederate War," by Gary Gallagher, another respected historian and member of the masthead of the Journal of Confederate History. This book is nothing more than the Lost Cause gushings of Mildred Rutherford, First Historian General of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, reformulated for modern audience.
Regardless of what Berthoff and others might write, the Confederate Celtics will and are being accommodated by American academics. This will facilitate popular acceptance of their theories. In the author's opinion the Civil War historians are largely still on Paul H. Bucks "Road to Reunion" and Southern Studies embraces a sort of cotton Brigadoonery, and both often look the other way in the presence of white supremacy.
In reading the demolition of the Confederate Celtic theories by Berthoff , the other Neo-Confederate invention, the Black Confederate soldier comes to mind. It also has been rejected as nonsense. Yet the masthead of the Journal of Confederate History which promotes this historical myth, is a "Whose Who" of prominent historians: Dr. Anne Baily, current editor of Civil War History; Edwin C. Bearss, retired former Chief Historian of the National Park Service in America; Dr. Gary Gallagher; Dr. James Marten; Dr. Archie McDonald; Dr. Grady McWhiney; Dr. James I. Robertson; Dr. Frank Vandiver; and others. Copious footnotes were also available for the Black Confederate articles, but they proved to be useful to find references that Black Confederates did not exist.
Confederate Celtic theories are part of a larger context of the invention of historical fantasies over the decades to serve the needs of Neo-Confederates and the willingness of the American academy to indulge them.
Impact on Scotland's Image
Events in American constantly drive the identification of Scottish cultural elements with the Confederacy and white supremacy.
Two recent events show this. The Washington Post, in an article "Reopening Old Wounds: Confederate Ceremony Angers Some in Howard," reports that a Howard County, Maryland, Confederate ceremony was met with an African-American counter protest. Bagpipe music is reported as one of the major parts of the Confederate ceremony. The article reviews the controversy over Confederate symbols in Maryland and Virginia over the last few years as background. (Washington Post, Sept. 24, 1998, p.D1)
Reporter Alice Lukens covered the same event. She reports on the Sons of Confederate Veteran's anger over the states refusal to declare a Confederate Heritage Month (Baltimore Sun, Sept. 28, 1998, p. 1B).
"There is a lingering cloud of political correctness in this state that impairs Gov. Glendening's vision," said Patrick J. Griffin III, commander in chief for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
"Grab a rail, a bucket of hot tar and some feathers, and head for Annapolis," he said, eliciting applause from the crowd.
She also reports the view of the African-American counter protesters.
After their march down the hill, the Rev. Stephen W. Williams of True Life Church in Columbia gave a speech accusing rededication participants of racism.
"We cannot tolerate this kind of attitude in Howard County," he said, while members of the crowd shouted "Right, brother" and "Amen" and the sound of bagpipes drifted from the celebrations down the Hill...." [Emphasis mine.]
A similar story is "Virginia Wars Over Confederate Graves; State Maintenance Funds Draws Complaints From Black Legislators," in the Washington Post by Mark Allen. (Washington Post, Feb. 22, 1997, C5). In the article is reported:
On Memorial Day in Salem, the Southern Cross chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy place 300 rebel flags in the cemetery as a flute and bagpipe lay mourning music. [emphasis mine.]
In political clashes between African-Americans and Neo-Confederates, the sound of bagpipes is the Confederate music. Southern newspapers routinely report bagpipes as part of Confederate observances. (Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Jan. 24, 1999, April 22, 1999), (The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C., April 1996), (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jan. 11, 1998) (Richmond Times Dispatch, Feb. 23, 1997), (The Tampa Tribune, Nov. 26, 1998).
The Confederate Tartan is another visible symbol of the fusion of Confederate and Scottish identity. It is on the webpages and in the publications of the League of the South and the Council of Conservative Citizens, groups which each have received the specific condemnation of KlanWatch. The Confederate Tartan is advertised with half page advertisements in the Confederate Veteran, sometimes on the outside cover.
The image of Scottish cultural themes being that of white supremacy surely is developing in the consciousness of persons of African ancestry in the United States and elsewhere. You will know when this image change is fairly far along when a person feels the need to explain that the tartan is ancestral, and has nothing to do with white supremacy, and senses they are disbelieved. This will be a cultural influence on Scotland in itself.
Neo-Confederates are developing a Celtic concept of themselves supported by extensive writings. This Confederate Celtic movement is influencing public perceptions and has penetrated extensively the academic literature. Scotland, with its recognition of the Confederate Memorial Tartan, is unwittingly facilitating this movement.
12 Southerners 1930, "I'll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition", (Louisiana Paperback Edition, 1977,  Harper & Brothers, New York)
15 Ministers 1996 'The Moral Defense of the Confederate Flag: A Special Message for Southern Christians', Southern Partisan, 16 Fourth Quarter, pp. 16-21
Berthoff R 1982 'Comparative History in Theory and Practice: A Discussion', American Historical Review Forum, 87(1) p. 123-143
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