Of late, I have been writing about the League of the South. My interest has been in the connections between that group and the Institute on the Constitution via IOTC founder Michael Peroutka. Peroutka is a member, supporter and according to one source, a board member of the League of the South (update: Peroutka is a board member as announced at the most recent League conference).
Of much wider interest is the disclosure that a member of Sen. Rand Paul’s staff is a former member of the League. The story by Alana Goodman begins:
A close aide [Jack Hunter] to Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) who co-wrote the senator’s 2011 book spent years working as a pro-secessionist radio pundit and neo-Confederate activist, raising questions about whether Paul will be able to transcend the same fringe-figure associations that dogged his father’s political career.
From my point of view as a social psychology teacher, I can understand the interest in Paul’s associates. In making attributions about the social behavior of others, most people are quick to make judgments using only a little bit of information. In the absence of sufficient data, people use what they have. First impressions are made this way, and while they may be unfair, those impressions are often durable.
In making attributions about political figures, voters are at a real disadvantage. We are quite distant from the person and thus look for clues about the person’s character and beliefs. Consistency is one factor people intuitively use to make attributions. We expect that politicians have certain consistent beliefs, and that they associate with those who also share those beliefs. Furthermore, most people expect that staff members of a politician are especially committed to the politicians beliefs and perhaps are even drawn to politician because of ideological similarity. And so, when it is discovered that a staffer or endorser (e.g., father Ron Paul’s endorsement by Phil Kayser) has offensive views or views at odds with the stated position of the politician, that revelation rightly draws interest.
In light of the Jack Hunter disclosures, League of the South president Michael Hill told white nationalist website Occidental Dissent:
As President of The League of the South, I’d like to thank Rand Paul, the GOP, Salon, and all the other cultural, social, economic, and political organs that are helping us separate the proverbial men from the boys. To wit, you are helping us destroy any “middle ground” to which the timid can retreat for safety. Soon, those like Mr. Hunter will learn that there’s no place in the GOP for Southerners who wish to remain . . . Southerners. Just so there’s no chance that you’ll confuse The League with the GOP or any other “conservative” group, here’s what we stand for: The survival, well being, and independence of the Southern people. And by “the Southern people,” we mean White Southerners who are not afraid to stand for the people of their race and region. In other words, we understand what it is to be an historic “nation”–a specific people with a unique culture living on a particular piece of land. And, God willing, we shall one day have a name and place among the nations of the earth.
Given statements like that, it is understandable that the public makes an attribution of white nationalism to people who belong to the League.