The controversy over Michael Peroutka's theocratic, white nationalist candidacy for county council, in Anne Arundel County, Maryland -- has gotten white hot after he inadvertently blew-up a press conference intended to stabilize his foundering campaign.
He declared among other things, that he was not a racist, that he is even an anti-racist. But he was also forced to acknowledge that his advocacy of secession at the 2012 convention of the League of the South and his leading the assemblage in the national anthem -- Dixie -- was not a mistake.
The Baltimore Sun, the state's largest newspaper editorialized that even though the League of the South insists it is not a hate group, it is "harder to argue that it isn’t an oddball extremist group with some hair-raising ideas. That they support Southern secession and rally behind all things Confederate pretty much defines the Alabama-based league."
And the blistering editorial, like the rest of the press coverage before and since the press conference, only got hotter.
The paper notes that the League is not just a group devoted to Southern nostalgia.
"No, they genuinely want to make the South independent and by their own admission “seek to protect the Anglo-Celtic core population and culture of the historic South.” The rest of the nation they see as mostly corrupt and insufficiently Christian.Van Smith of the Baltimore City Paper, wrote that he doubts that many of Peroutka's "potential constituents have used their advantages in the way he long has: to advance a militant theocratic agenda."
Given that history, it’s a little hard to believe that someone running for the Anne Arundel County Council... would want to be associated with it. Yet when Republican candidate Michael Peroutka got the chance to put a little distance between himself and the League of the South this week, he did just the opposite — complaining instead about those who dared criticize his longtime involvement with the group.
Mr. Peroutka not only declined to repudiate the league, but he singled out this newspaper for allegedly attempting to “smear” him...
A decade ago, Peroutka already had a record of supporting the formation of local militias when he ran for U.S. president under the Constitution Party banner, with a campaign slogan — "God-Family-Republic" — that dressed up his extremism with rhetoric that run-of-the-mill patriotic Christians might find innocuously attractive. Similarly, the name of Peroutka's Institute on the Constitution (IOC) fails to communicate its actual mission: creating theocratic governance based on both testaments of the Bible, similar to how extremist Muslims would like to establish states based on sharia law derived from the Quran.
Peroutka’s effort to separate the League from neo-Nazis is a blurry endeavor... As the Huffington Post’s coverage [by Jonathan Hutson] of Peroutka’s press conference pointed out, the YouTube video of Peroutka singing “Dixie” in 2012 “was shot by Michael Cushman, a former member of the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group, who now leads the League's South Carolina chapter.”Last Sunday, The Capital Gazette the leading newspaper in the Annapolis area where Peroutka lives, outlined in an editorial, what is at stake for the Republican Party:
Peroutka, a former Constitution Party presidential candidate who only recently switched to the GOP, is the founder of the Pasadena-based Institute on the Constitution, which argues that the Bible is the ultimate authority for all levels of government.Peroutka's neophyte Democratic opponent, Patrick Armstrong, knows he is in the fight of his young political life and responded to Peroutka's press conference writing:
But the most glaring difficulty for the GOP is Peroutka’s affiliation with the League of the South, a 20-year-old Alabama-based organization classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “neo-Confederate hate group.” The league’s racial views are masked by code words, but it is openly secessionist — its president, Michael Hill, proclaims on its website that the league’s “ultimate goal is a free and independent Southern republic.”
That website (leagueofthesouth.com) currently boasts an email to Hill from Peroutka trumpeting his 38-vote win in the GOP primary and asking “you to ask the membership for prayers and whatever financial support they can muster. I am grateful for our friendship and for the work of the LS.”
You don’t encounter this every day in the party of Lincoln.
After being asked to step down from a secessionist organization with strong racial hatred themes after years of involvement, it is not enough to say, “I’m not a secessionist.” Peroutka can be seen on YouTube videos embracing secession and openly declaring his displeasure that Maryland was prevented from seceding in the Civil War.The truth is, the more people get to know Michael Peroutka, the more they see the vision of theocratic white nationalism that animates his candidacy.
Will he apologize for his leadership on the board of directors for the League of the South, apologize for his membership, retract his request on July 8 for the league’s financial contributions, and stop seeking its support? Is Peroutka proud the league is telling its members and the public, “Our Southern Nationalist candidate has won the primary election”?
Will he say secession is un-American? Will he continue to espouse the radical views he expressed when he ran for president of the United States against Republican George W. Bush and outright disparaged the Republican Party?