From our archives . . .

The article below was published in a right wing magazine in 2004.


13 November 2003: Lessons Learned in Montgomery

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. . . . At 11:30 a.m. (CST) on Thursday, 13 November 2003, Roy Moore was removed from office and the will of the people of the sovereign State of Alabama was thwarted by a unanimous vote of the nine-member panel of the Court of Judicial Ethics. In deciding the case Glassroth v. Moore, the panel charged Moore with violating the canons of judicial ethics by willfully and publicly defying a federal court order to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial building. Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor served as chief prosecutor against Moore (he is also a Bush nominee for an 11th Circuit federal judgeship).

The proceedings of 13 November have their immediate roots in Moore’s refusal to obey the federal court order of Judge Myron Thompson issued the previous August. At that time, Thompson ruled that the public display of the Ten Commandments monument violated the Constitutional provision of the separation of church and state, a dubious claim. Thompson gave Moore until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 20 August, to remove the monument. Moore refused, noting that the issue in question was not the Ten Commandments themselves, but whether the State of Alabama, representing its citizens, could acknowledge God. Who rules Alabama, the people of the State or the federal courts?

The League of the South was one of several organizations to hold a rally in Montgomery on the deadline day in support of Judge Moore. Once our rally ended about 4:30 p.m., I joined about seventy-five other League members, Alabama and Confederate flags in hand, who were making their way from the steps of the Alabama State Capitol building in Montgomery and then down Dexter Avenue to the judicial building. The mid-August heat and humidity in central Alabama were oppressive. We had decided to join other Moore supporters at the judicial building. Rumors were flying that Judge Thompson had ordered federal marshals to remove the 5,300-pound monument shortly after the 5:00 p.m. deadline, and we planned to do what we could to prevent such an attempt.

What we experienced during the course of the next few hours taught us some valuable lessons about Conservative/Christian professional politics and about the nature of our elected State officials.

The “national Conservative/Christian leadership” has within it a large element that is utterly corrupt and self-serving. These men are shameless self-promoters who are more interested in fundraising than in standing on principle. My criticism of the leadership of this particular faction is in no way meant to impugn the character or motives of the rank-and-file that follow them. There are many good and sincere men and women, the so-called “little people,” who have sacrificed much (including going to jail) for their “leaders.” Moreover, they have contributed huge amounts of money to various causes (including the current Ten Commandments fight). My problem is with the self-anointed leaders. It is not only the left that has its professional protesters.

Defeat is assured because of the corruption and arrogance of many of those who purport to lead this movement. These professional Conservative and Christian leaders believe they deserve to be supported, financially and otherwise, by the little people. It did not take long for us to witness their hubris in action. When League of the South members reached the judicial building near the deadline for the monument’s removal, all of us were dressed quite plainly, most in our standard Red Shirts and casual slacks or jeans, like men who expected to get their hands dirty with some important work. We did not seek out the media for interviews. We were not there for photo-ops. We were there to support Judge Moore and, if necessary, to physically block anyone from moving the monument.

By contrast, the professional Conservative and Christian leaders were dressed to the nines and were energetically grabbing the nearest media microphone or preening for the closest camera. One of these men approached us as we ascended the steps and gave away their whole game.

We were asked to have “our people” put away their Alabama and Confederate flags and placards because they might “muddy the message.” What he meant was simply that they did not want their fundraising photos marred by any vile, racist Southern symbols. Nor did they wish to contend with our States Rights argument. In fact, they seemed to prefer quoting Martin Luther King, Jr. to Jefferson Davis or John C. Calhoun. One “Christian” from far-away Ohio actually berated us for having a “Klan flag,” which actually was the Alabama State flag (a red St. Andrews cross on a white field). I suppose he is the fruit of public education. In the bargain, he almost got an Alabama ass-whippin’ for his trouble.

We refused to comply and were later told by the head honcho himself, Rev. Patrick Mahoney (a New Jersey native who in the past has allied himself with some suspicious characters on the left), Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, that because his group had a demonstration permit for the area in front of the judicial building that he would have the Montgomery Police Department clear us out if we did not obey his diktat. Undeterred, our folks stayed on with flags flying, and the threat against us was never carried through. We left a couple of hours later when one of Judge Moore’s legal advisors (a League member) informed us that the feds were not going to try and move the monument that day.

Also, these leaders revealed to us that they had already negotiated with State law enforcement authorities the terms under which about two dozen of their “little people” would be arrested and released. I suppose they thought this would impress us—it did not. It did, however, point up two important things: 1) Such orchestrated “opposition” was a photo-op for future fundraising efforts; and 2) none of their leaders themselves would be arrested. Thus there was no risk to the leaders, and this reminded us of generals who always lead from the rear. They were “fighting for Jesus on the cheap,” as one of my fellow League members put it. These men were not in Montgomery to risk their lives for a principle. They were there to grab a microphone and have others arrested for the well- being and preservation of their professional organizations. Unfortunately, many of these professional folks from outside Alabama (and the South) have wormed their way into Judge Moore’s camp. But they will not be around very long because they simply do not understand the wide chasm between the American civic nationalism they champion and the States Rights issue for which Judge Moore stands. The two are incompatible, as future events are bound to demonstrate.

Alabamians have once again been betrayed by both outsiders and by their own elected officials, especially the GOP establishment. Though the press has refused to report it, Karl Rove, and thus the Bush White House, has consistently supported those who have opposed Judge Moore, especially Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor and Moore’s 2000 Republican primary opponent for the Chief Justice post, Harold See. Thus it is not a stretch to say that much of the campaign against Judge Moore has come directly from the White House. Also, Republican Governor Bob Riley has consistently refused to stand by Judge Moore during the Ten Commandments controversy. Similarly, AG Pryor (also a Republican) and the eight Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justices abandoned Moore and entered into negotiations with the federal tyrant, Judge Thompson, to keep the State from incurring fines and other punishment for violating a court order.

From 20 August until Moore was removed from office on 13 November, the elected officials of the sovereign State of Alabama had a rare opportunity to show some pluck and grit. They blew it. In my opinion, here is what our craven civil magistrates should have said in defense of the people of Alabama: “Tell the federal judge to go to hell. Alabama is a sovereign State, and federal edicts of this sort have no force within our borders. We understand the Principles of ’98—nullification and interposition—and we shall invoke them. The State will pay not one penny in tribute. We shall call out the State Troopers, the Alabama State Guard, and the State Militia. We shall withhold all tax revenues from the IRS and remove all federal flags from State property (which ought to be done as a matter of course anyhow). And finally, we shall tell the federal tyrants that they are welcome to come and try to take Judge Moore and the monument. We will be waiting for them at the State line.” Well, it did make a good daydream.

Our public officials are much too timid and housebroken to pursue such a bold plan of action. Unfortunately, the good people of Alabama cannot recall them from office. But they have been shamed (if that is possible) and pestered incessantly by phone calls, e-mail, and faxes, and the people down here are counting the days until the next elections. Moreover, many radio talk show hosts and their guests (yours truly included) and callers are beginning to have some serious discussions about the Principles of ’98, States Rights, the Tenth Amendment, and even secession. And before the month of November is out, God willing, there will be some big news coming out of Roy Moore’s camp.

The crown of victory will never grace the brows of such hypocrites and compromisers as I have described above. Southern traditionalists should never again waste their time and energy in any cause espoused by this gaggle of national Conservative/Christian leaders and mainstream politicians. They are either grand-standers or timeserving hacks that never really intend to accomplish anything of real value or meaning. The perpetuation of their own power and position are their real goals. They will do nothing to oppose the unconstitutional American Empire because in reality they are its biggest cheerleaders; they believe that George W. Bush will save America. Even worse, they siphon off the attention, energy, and money of the grassroots and deceive them into thinking that something worthwhile is being accomplished. As Southerners and defenders of Western civilization, we must cut loose from these people altogether, and we would do well to take their misled rank-and-file with us. They can and must be made to see that their leaders are the dead past and that we are the future of any true conservative/nationalist movement on these shores.

Old wineskins cannot hold new wine. By God’s grace, we are the new wine. All those old wineskins used by the professional Conservative/Christian leaders—the-Pledge- of-Allegiance-hyper-nationalistic-God-Bless-America-Old-Glory-Waving-John-Ashcroft-loving-let’s-bomb-the-bastards-back-into-the-stoneage-neo-con Jew-enabling-super-patriots with their mass rallies; their safe, guaranteed-beforehand-to-be-ineffectual-and-riskless protests; their non-confrontational “confrontations;” their slick and respectable professionalism; and their feckless gestures of serving principle—we must discard forever. Instead, we Southern nationalists must fight as the outnumbered have always fought: by leveraging our limited strength on the margin. We must fight for clearly defined goals and principles, not mushy, ill-defined generalities, and we must fight where even if we lose, we win by having fought.

Roy Moore has given us a focal point in Alabama, and it is the issue of States Rights versus the tyranny of the federal courts. As this publication has rightly pointed out now for some time, conservatism as a movement has been kidnapped and stabbed through the heart by a new class of leaders who seek respectability rather than a real fight with the left. If a stand is to be made in defense of the principles and traditions of the old American republic (the heart of which was the South), and of Western Christian civilization itself, it will have to be made by the sort of folks who join organizations such as The League of the South.

Michael Hill

President, The League of the South

Killen, Alabama