AIG Denies White Supremacist Connections

AIG Denies White Supremacist Connections September 19, 2014

I recently noticed something fascinating on Warren Throckmorton’s blog:

Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis is misinforming questioners about Michael Peroutka who is sponsoring of next month’s creationism speech at a church in Severn, MD. According to AiG representative Troy Lacey, Michael Peroutka never was a part of the League of the South. Acting on a tip from a reader who first wrote AiG earlier in the day, I wrote the organization and asked:

I understand that Ken Ham is speaking at an event in Severn, MD sponsored by Michael Peroutka. Mr. Peroutka is a member and former board member of the League of the South, a Southern nationalist secession group.

Is Mr. Ham aware of Mr. Peroutka’s affiliation with the League of the South?

Mr. Lacey answered on behalf of AiG:

Hello Warren thank you for contacting Answers in Genesis. Ken Ham is speaking at Severn Christian Church in Severn, MD on October 18th; not to an organization. He was invited by the church leadership to speak there on Creation evangelism topics. The group that is sponsoring the conference appears to be a conservative constitutional reform party, but nothing more that I can see. As an organization we do not involve ourselves in politics.

To answer your question, to our knowledge Michael Peroutka was not a member of nor ever a former board member of the League of the South organization.

I hope this has been helpful,

Troy Lacey

The ad for the event lists the Institute on the Constitution as the sponsors, not the church. I wrote the church to ask for comment with no response. The church may be doing more than providing the venue, but it is clear that Ham is being featured by the IOTC which is a DBA label for Michael Peroutka.

Here’s the ad, which is featured on the Institute on the Constitution’s website:

kenhamdebate

The gist of what’s going on is this: On October 18th, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis will be presenting a conference for a conservative organization (the Institute on the Constitution) with strong ties to a white supremacist group (the League of the South). Answers in Genesis is currently denying that Michael Peroutka, the man behind the Institute on the Constitution, has any ties to the League of the South, but this this is absolutely bizarre given the existence of this thing we call the internet.

As Warren Throckmorton explains:

There can be no doubt that Michael Peroutka is a member and defender of the League of the South. He refused to distance himself from them at his news conference last month, he wrote the League’s president Michael Hill and asked for support from them, he proudly served as a board member for nearly a year, and he pledged the resources of the IOTC and his family to the aims of the League.

Feel free to click through, Throckmorton’s links are all solid. Last summer, Peroutka spoke at the League of the South’s 2013 convention, accepting his election to the organizations’ board. Here is an excerpt from his speech:

I thank you Dr. Hill, and you Sara, and you Alex, and Mike Crane, and all the others on the board, and . . . I want to do my best, with God’s help, to be worthy of . . . what you do and what you are asking me to do. I’m going to try my best. I pledge the resources of the Institute on the Constitution and the resources of the Peroutka family to that effort. God bless you.

You can view his full speech here:

At about minute 4:00, Peroutka also says this:

I always have the difficulty when it comes to the League of the South—since I actually learned most of what I know from y’all—there’s always the difficult of what I’m going to come here to tell you that you don’t already know.

Peroutka’s ties to the League of the South are fact. This is not up for debate or something Peroutka denies. Peroutka also spoke at the League of the South’s 2004 and 2012 conventions. Peroutka is open about his involvement and defends this involvement. He is also open about the League of the South’s influence on his own thinking. Given this, it shouldn’t be surprising that the mission statement of Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution cites R. L. Dabney, an early Southern apologist perhaps best known for his impassioned defense of slavery and the South.

Peroutka is a lawyer by trade and was the Constitution Party’s 2004 presidential candidate, endorsed by the League of the South. Peroutka founded the Institute of the Constitution, based in Pasadena, Maryland. He is reported to be the organization’s primary funder, and is the primary voice behind the organization. The Institute of the Constitution’s mission is “to help individuals across America understand and appreciate their own history and heritage by reacquainting them with the worldview and vision of our Founding Fathers.” As such, Peroutka and his associate David Whitney, a pastor, travel regionally giving talks and workshops on the U.S. Constitution.

Peroutka is currently running for political office as a Republican, and his ties to the League of the South are giving him some trouble. But rather than distancing himself from the organization, he is reaffirming his involvement and arguing that the League of the South is simply a “Christian free market group,” no racism or white supremacy to see here, folks. Peroutka’s ties to the group are not in question—he recently thanked the organization for its help with his campaign and requested continued assistance. It’s not like we’re just talking about a group that came to one of Peroutka’s rallies and made a donation. A year ago, Peroutka was a board member of the organization. It’s no wonder the League’s president, Michael Hill, refers to Peroutka as “our Southern Nationalist candidate.”

With this background, let’s look at the League of the South. Is it simply a “Christian free market group,” as Peroutka claims? Or is it a white supremacist group?

First of all, Peroutka is being incredibly deceptive when he says the League of the South is merely a “Christian free market group,” and he knows it. Peroutka is well aware that the League of the South supports Southern secession—and he does too. Here is an excerpt from a talk he gave at a League of the South Convention, in which he discussed his organization’s classes on the U.S. Constitution and referred directly to League of the South president Michael Hill’s advocacy of secession:

We have a basic Constitution course, now again I don’t disagree with Dr. Hill at all, that this regime is beyond reform. I think that’s an obvious fact and I agree with him. However, I do agree that when you secede, or however the destruction and the rubble of this regime takes place and how it plays out, you’re going to need to take a biblical worldview and apply it to civil law and government. That’s what you’re still going to need to do. Whether we’re going to have to have this foundational information in the hearts and minds of the people, or else liberty won’t survive the secession either. You see what I’m saying? So this view, I saying that because I don’t want the League of the South, for one minute to think that I am about reforming the current regime, and that studying the Constitution is about reforming the regime.

I’m pretty sure most people would see referring to an organization you know supports secession as a “Christian free market group” is misleading at best and actively deceptive at worst. But what about the accusations that the group is a white supremacist group?

Do you remember Doug Wilson’s misbegotten 1996 pamphlet, Southern Slavery as It Was? In it Wilson praised the antebellum South and wrote that “there has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.” He called slave life “a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.” Wilson has sought to distance himself from the pamphlet, but still calls himself a “paleoconfederate.” He calls the South “the last nation of the first Christendom” and explains that “we’re fighting in a long war, and that [the Civil War] was one battle that we lost.”

In sum, Wilson argues that the South had an upstanding Christian culture, and the Civil War was an attempt by the ungodly North to destroy that culture. When the South lost the Civil War, that was a loss for “Christendom.” Wilson is not alone in holding these beliefs. He cowrote his 1996 pamphlet with Steve Wilkins, who cofounded an organization named The League of the South is 1994.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the League as follows:

The League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by “European Americans.”

For its part, the League describes itself as follows:

The League of the South is a Southern Nationalist organization whose ultimate goal is a free and independent Southern republic.

The organization isn’t shy about its emphasis on the right cause of the South during the Civil War, the importance it places on maintaining the South as a Christian “Anglo-Celtic” society, or its contention that southern slavery was a time of gentleness racial harmony. A look at the books sold on their website illustrates the organization’s fixation on the Civil War, and while the group’s FAQs reject racism they also explicitly call for the preservation of a South based on an “Anglo-Celtic core population and culture” (“should this core be destroyed or displaced the South would be made over in an alien image—unfamiliar and inhospitable to our children and grandchildren”).

The organization’s founding statement rejects a society based on equality and instead endorses a society based on “the natural societal order of superiors and subordinates.” The organization’s current president wrote an article for the group’s website titled “The Poison of Multiculturalism.” In it he argued that “what is really meant . . . when they peg us as ‘racists’ is that we adhere to ethnocentrism, which is a natural affection for one’s own kind,” that this affection is “healthy and Biblical,” and that the South is “the most important remaining bastion of Western Christian civilization” and must be protected against the multicultural “onslaught.” On its website the organization sells books like “A Southside View of Slavery,” a reprint of an 1854 book arguing that the South was “a well-ordered society in which the Negroes were mainly content, well-cared for by their masters, and even evangelized.”

Here is how the league’s current president, Michael Hill, describes his organization:

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.

And here is an excerpt from Hill’s “Our Survival as a People”:

But instead of whites owing blacks reparations for slavery and its alleged attendant ills, for instance, blacks in reality owe white America (especially the South) a debt that likely will be neither acknowledged nor paid. Sold into slavery by their own people (or by the Muslims whom many blacks hold in such high regard today), Africans were transported out of a heathen and idolatrous continent and set down in the most Christian section of America–the South. There they were instructed in the Christian religion of their masters, given cradle-to-grave security, and generally treated quite humanely. In short, they were given a chance to live in an advanced civilization and have prospered mightily because of it. All one has to do is contrast the lot of today’s black Americans with that of his brethren back in Africa to see the truthfulness of this assertion. 

The League of the South is a southern secessionist group that holds the antebellum South as its ideal and is working to create an independent white, Christian South. This is beyond doubt. And I suspect that Answers in Genesis knows this, given that they argued in their response to Throckmorton not that the League of the South wasn’t a problem, but rather that Peroutka had no ties to the organization. And once again, this is utterly bizarre given the existence of the internet. Peroutka does not hide his association with the League of the South. He is open about it. Anyone can look this up.

Answers in Genesis has gone out of its way over the past few years to combat racism, arguing that all humans are “one blood” and that race is a human creation, not something laid out by God. I have always appreciated that. But now Ken Ham will be speaking at Michael Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution. The ball is in their court here, but I’d suggest they may want to be more careful about vetting organizations and individuals who invite them to come speak.

There’s something else I want to say, too. In defending his connections to the League of the South, Peroutka has been arguing that the organization is not racist. He is also incredibly upset that anyone could even suggest he is a racist. When Carl Snowden, an African American civil rights official, called on the Republican Party to disavow Peroutka’s candidacy, Peroutka accused him of playing a “cynical, dishonest race-card-smear game.” I am increasingly worried about conservatives’ ability to recognize racism. That Peroutka could find it outrageous that anyone would question his connection to the League of the South or call that organization racist suggests that Peroutka wouldn’t recognize racism if it smacked him in the face.

Many conservatives seem to believe that racism requires malice. Since they don’t feel malice—they just think black families were healthier during slavery / that people should stick with their own kind and not intermix / that black people are lazy welfare moochers / insert here. And since they don’t feel race-based malice toward black people, the logic goes, they can’t be racist. Racists, in their minds, are horrible evil monsters who act out of malice and go out of their way to terrorize black people. They are not that, so they are clearly not racist.

And suddenly it is those making the accusations of racism that are horrible people.

Let me finish with one last quote by League of the South president Michael Hill:

So when they call you a “racist” or a “white supremacist,” remember that they would have called your Southern ancestors that as well. Thus you are in good company with Lee, Davis, Stephens, and a host of other honorable men. Laugh in your accuser’s face and relish that good company!

If he wants to be taken seriously, Peroutka may want to rethink his connections—and his views.

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