More on Giuliani’s neo-Confederate SC Campaign Chairman

Last week, Rudy Giuliani’s campaign was hit with a flurry of bad press over the GOP presidential aspirant’s alliance with South Carolina’s Ravenel family. Arthur Ravenel Jr., the family patriarch, is a former Republican US Representative and current regional chairman of Giuliani’s campaign in the early voting primary state. Ravenel’s son, former SC state treasurer, Thomas, was forced to resign from his post as Giuliani’s state chairman last month after being indicted for cocaine trafficking.

Yet instead of pushing white powder like his son allegedly has, Arthur Ravenel has trafficked in white power. During a speech at a 2000 rally for the display of the Confederate flag on public property, Ravenel called the NAACP, “The National Association of Retarded People,” and has made several other racially charged remarks throughout his career.

After I wrote about the Ravenels on Campaign Matters and on my blog, I received a note from my friend Ed Sebesta, a leading researcher of the neo-Confederate movement and author of the essential (and perhaps only) anti-Neo-Confederate blog. Sebesta told me he opened his files on Arthur Ravenel and discovered that the old Palmetto state pol has embedded himself with neo-Confederate radicals even more deeply than anyone has reported.

The extent of Ravenel’s radicalism was exemplified by a startling proclamation of “support for secessionists” he delivered on the House floor on June 25, 1991.

This is the Congressional Record entry of Ravenel’s speech (scroll down to the Giuliani section of Sebesta’s presidential candidates page for more):

SUPPORT FOR SECESSIONISTS (House of Representatives – June 25, 1991)

[Page: H4950]

(Mr. RAVENEL asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)

Mr. RAVENEL. Mr. Speaker, I know that those who win the wars write the histories. However, I must take exception to a remark made by Mr. Solarz last week wherein he said, Abraham Lincoln made the point that once the Southern States joined the Union, they were part of it permanently.

The fact was and still is that no constitutional prohibition of secession exists. Faced with this dilemma, Mr. Lincoln provoked the infant Confederacy into foolishly attacking Fort Sumter. He then declared the departing States to be in rebellion and called for 75,000 volunteers to suppress it. North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Virginia refused the call and joined their southern sisters. I join those who applaud todays secessions in the Soviet Union and around the world. But where were they in 1861? We’re content, but we still stand when the bands play Dixie!

[Page: H4951]
[TIME: 1230]

According to Sebesta, Ravenel’s ode to secession was reprinted Vol. 11, 2nd Quarter 1991 issue of Southern Partisan, page 10. The Southern Partisan is the flagship publication of the neo-Confederates. Its editors have habitually cast antebellum slavery as a benign institution that benefited both the master and slave. As I reported for the Nation, the Partisan’s former managing editor, shadowy international lobbyist Richard T. Hines, once penned a paean in the magazine to Preston Brooks, the secessionist South Carolina congressman who caned Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on the Senate floor in 1854 for his speeches against slavery. In the year before Bush’s election, Southern Partisan advertised the sale of T-shirts emblazoned with a Confederate flag shaped like a Republican Party elephant beside the phrase “Lincoln’s Worst Nightmare!”

On October 9, 1993, Ravenel headlined an event in South Carolina sponsored by the now-defunct Confederate Heritage Preservation Society and the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), according to the CofCC’s Citizens Informer (Vol. 24 No. 3 1993, page 5).

With 15,000 dues-paying members, the CoCC is America’s largest white nationalist organization. It represents the reincarnation of the White Citizens Councils that battled integration in the Jim Crow South. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the CofCC is a hate group that “has racism at its core.” If you don’t believe the SPLC, just take a cursory glance at the CofCC’s statement of principles, which includes this gem:

We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called “affirmative action” and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.

By appointing Ravenel to his campaign, Giuliani has recognized the influence neo-Confederates have in the South Carolina GOP. As I reported in my profile of Richard T. Hines, the same radical elements that doomed John McCain’s presidential campaign in South Carolina’s 2000 primary election have taken over America’s largest Southern preservation group, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and are implementing plans to transform it into a far-right wing lobbying outfit.

But Giuliani’s alliance with neo-Confederates like Ravenel is not surprising, nor is it necessarily novel. Those who lived under his regime in New York City are familiar with his penchant for exploiting racial divisions for political gain. Now that Giuliani has introduced his Southern strategy in the GOP primaries, he is truly the Copperhead Candidate.

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