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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 7/8/15

Why Scrapping the Confederate Flag Is a Threat to a Huge Swath of the Right-Wing Movement

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Reprinted from Alternet

Ed Sebesta discusses his life's work, researching and challenging the neo-Confederates.

Confederate Flag
Confederate Flag
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One essential element of America's hard-right coalition that is consistently underacknowledged by media outsiders and downplayed by movement insiders is the neo-Confederate faction of Stars-and-Bars enthusiasts who revere Jefferson Davis, revile Abraham Lincoln and believe they are still battling Reconstruction in the form of liberal federal government policies. Leading neo-Confederate organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) insist their activities are merely historical in nature, and reject any implication that they are engaged in a long-term political campaign. But as the white supremacist terrorist Dylann Roof recently demonstrated, neo-Confederacy often uses heritage as a mask for racial hate.

Following Roof's massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, leading Republican politicians are capitulating to widespread pressure to condemn the display of the Confederate flag in state capitols across the Deep South. Yet neo-Confederacy maintains wide appeal across the South and deep influence within the broader conservative movement. The SCV, for example, oversees a junior ROTC program overseen by the federal government which enables the organization to promote "Confederate heroes" in public high schools and bestow awards on ROTC participants named after a Confederate military submarine, H.L. Hunley.

Meanwhile, the UDC helps organize the annual presidential wreath delivery to the Confederate Army Monument at Arlington National Cemetery. President Obama is the most recent president to participate in this federal tradition, rejecting pressure from academics and activists to cease honoring Confederate veterans.

Since I began reporting on neo-Confederacy, I have consistently turned to one person for insight and information about the movement's political goals and alliances. Ed Sebesta is a private citizen with no academic position who has dedicated much of his life to researching and challenging the neo-Confederates. Sebesta provided me with the research that allowed me to expose the relationship former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and ex-Virginia Sen. George Allen struck up with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a neo-Confederate group Dylann Roof credited with his radicalization. Sebesta was the source who supplied journalists with the Ron Paul reports that exposed the racist, homophobic screeds that filled Rep. Ron Paul's newsletters during the 1990s.

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