This past weekend the League of the South decided to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the July 22 cabinet meeting in which Lincoln shared his thoughts on an emancipation proclamation by meeting themselves in their own facility in Alabama. Judging from what we’ve heard on websites, blogs, and on several Facebook discussion groups, one major theme of the meeting, as emphasized by the president of the League of the South, Michael Hill, is that the League wants to eschew being politically correct and denounces what it calls “rainbow Confederates.” Among those being charged with being a Rainbow Confederate obsessed by political correctness is none other than Connie Chastain, who spent whatever hours she had this past weekend that were not devoted to attacking me to doing battle with her foes on Facebook, her preferred field of battle (her blog has not been updated since June 18).
It’s not the first time Chastain has been so described. Indeed, Hunter Wallace has been applying that label to her for some time. What intrigues me about this recent debate is that to raise the question of whether Connie Chastain is a Rainbow Confederate (and what that term means) sheds some light into the internal dynamics of the relationship between “southern heritage,” southern nationalism, and white supremacy.
In one corner we have Hunter Wallace, who runs Occidental Dissent, as well as the folks at Southern Nationalist Network. These folks favor a race-based white supremacist/separatist movement, and they make no bones about it (watch SNN squirm about this: Wallace has the courage of his convictions). Wallace has no problem highlighting the white supremacist roots of the Confederacy. Yes, these folks are interested in history, but they are more interested in achieving their goal, and in Wallace’s case, the new white republic need not be located in the area of the former Confederacy.
In a second corner we have the League of the South, which can’t quite make up its mind about how it wants to view issues of race. Does it believe in white supremacy? Perhaps. Would its independent South exclude blacks? I don’t believe so. Why my uncertainty? Because the League waffles a bit on these issues (having just changed its stance on the word “racism”). That’s one reason why OD and SNN were so pleased by the events of last weekend … because they have not always been happy with the League’s seeming moderation (although I emphasize “seeming”) on such issues. As for its understanding of history, the League is also interested in crafting a usable past to buttress its political positions.
And then we have the group denounced this past weekend by OD, SNN, and the League … the so-called Rainbow Confederates. First of all, it’s important to understand that this is a label devised by people who want to lump together folks like the Virginia Flaggers, the Southern Heritage Preservation Group, and Chastain. They describe the social views of these people in ways that might make them sound as if they are welcome in polite society (or that they are the covert arm of the despicable antisouthern blogging movement, a label “invented” by the very people who now find themselves labelled by their critics who don’t see them as truly committed to the real Confederate cause. Ah, irony). According to these critics, the Rainbow Confederates are tolerant of racial differences, embrace “political correctness” (and thus are incorrect Confederates), and seek some sort of biracial southern future (multiracial seems to be too much of a reach: even Chastain still sees the world in black/white terms, which is surprising given that she resides in Florida). The use of “rainbow” as a modifier is designed to tell the rest of us that this is a group that tolerates, even embraces difference: thus the interest for some in black Confederates or black supporters such as H. K. Edgerton or Virginia Flagger Karen Cooper. And, as before, this group is interested in fabricating a heritage at odds with the historical record, largely to serve their own political beliefs. They are not really interested in taking on OD, SNN, and so on, in part, I suspect, because they secretly believe much of what those groups espouse.
This is how it looks to an outsider … I’m sure insiders will pick away at this categorization and description, and we all welcome clarification in the interest of accuracy.
And so it falls to me to do something many of you who wallow in personalities (and thus miss the point) will find shocking: I agree with Connie Chastain. She’s not a Rainbow Confederate. She’s at best a white paternalist who rejects most forms of racial (and gender) equality, defends antiSemitic rantings, and has demonstrated an intolerance of sexual choices and lifestyles. In short, she’s not tolerant at all: she reluctantly accepts what she has to accept. She’s not alone among those who are being labeled Rainbow Confederates, but she’s someone whose views have been examined here in the past. Her problem is that she, too, waffles, largely for appearance’s sake, and perhaps because she knows that she would further diminish her already limited readership if she was to be candid about her convictions. If she had the courage of those convictions, I suspect she would not be targeted as she was (well, the truth is that last weekend it was Connie Chastain who instigated the fight on the League of the South’s Facebook page, so he presented herself as a rather easy target in true Chastain style, complete with charging everyone who disagreed with her as being a liar and answering questions with questions rather than defining her own position in her own words).
Chastain’s own muddled method of presentation and argument has allowed her critics to take her apart. She’s not ready for prime time, and had mistaken a bit of cyberspace notoriety for real influence. Yet she remains a figure of interest and amusement (as well as a useful example for people to make a point). Wallace shared with us her expulsion from the League of the South’s Facebook group; Chastain responded that she’s been readmitted and had been in contact with Hill, who once highlighted his friendship with her. That might give Wallace and SNN cause to pause.
UPDATE July 27, 2012: Here’s what Michael Hill says in response to Chastain’s comment that she’s back in the League’s FB discussion group page:
Note: Despite what Simpson writes, Connie has not been allowed back on the League FB page. If she has, it was done without my knowledge and consent.
So, folks, I think we outsiders are wrong to place the emphasis on “rainbow” in “rainbow Confederate.” It’s a modifier used to denote distance where in fact very little exists. I’d emphasize the “Confederate” in the term as a reminder of just how much these groups have in common, even as they continue to disagree about the history of the Old South, slavery, and the Confederacy. Even then, “Confederate” is a bit of a distortion, because in truth there is no Confederacy and there are no Confederates. I believe “white supremacist” is more accurate.
As for what all this means for Confederate heritage groups (namely the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy), well, these folks might want to think before they get involved in this fracas, lest they prove their most devoted critics to be right after all. And for the rest of us, well, this is another case study in the interplay between the past, history, memory, and heritage, as well as how people seek to craft a memory of the past to serve present concerns.
When I coined the term “Rainbow Confederate,” I had in mind Carl Roden, John Stones, and the bizarre set of people at the SHPG who subscribe to the fantasy of a multiracial Confederacy, who counterintuitively seem to argue that the Confederacy was really about “fighting hate” or “fighting racism” and had nothing to do with slavery or white supremacy.
Essentially, a Rainbow Confederate is someone who suffers from ignorance and lives in this fantasy world and their views on “social equality” would have shocked real Confederates, who project the indisputably modern racial attitudes of the Baby Boomer generation of post-1965 America back onto the battlefields of their Confederate ancestors.
I’ve since learned that I am not the first person to use the term “Rainbow Confederate.” Jonathan Tilove, a reporter I know from the New Orleans Times Picayune, was using “Rainbow Confederate” in the same sense back in 2000 to describe these people.
As for Connie, she is so muddleheaded that she is fully capable of taking contradictory positions on any number of issues. She can announce in one comment that she is “against equality” while in the next comment she will loudly attack me for opposing “equality before the law.”
If you start to criticize her position, she will accuse you of “lying” about her because she has already shifted her rhetorical stance by the next comment, and continues to shift positions, as the mood strikes, until you tire of responding to her.
That’s Connie being Connie. Once one discovers that she argues with everyone the same way (and she did the same thing when she was into the “false rape accusation” movement), one understands that it’s just her way of dealing with criticism.
False rape accusation movement? Can you substanciate that claim?
Sure. Look here. What do you think her Southern Man book was all about? She says that often men are falsely accused of rape. It’s where she took that statement that offended many people in that debate (I had never heard of it as a “movement”).
I’ve never read “Southern Man.” But as a college student minoring in Womens’ Studies, I have seen a boatload of stats about rape and the “false accusation” claims are usually total bunk. Furthermore, the vast overwhelming majority of rapes are never reported in the first place. It happens (Duke Lacross), but it’s micro rare.
People like to kick around stats (usually claiming 40% or more rapes are false), based on doctored studies of specific areas and not counting the UNREPORTED rapes that can’t be numbered. But this is a digression. Sorry, just some topics push my buttons severely.
I understand. See, I don’t make things up about Connie Chastain. Simply bringing what she has said to light shocks some people, amuses others, and angers her. Pat Hines has the same problem.
“False Rape Society” blog? I didn’t realize she was THAT avowed of an antifeminist.
In Chastain’s fictional world, women are the protagonists, men simply objects upon which women project much (good or evil). And there’s a strong sexual undercurrent in them, sometimes veering toward the strange, as in the oft-promised Sweet Southern Boys. As she says …
But when they are seniors in high school, they are charged with unspeakable crimes. Branded as criminals in headlines from coast to coast, persecuted by the justice system, abandoned by their community, their lives shattered and their futures jeopardized, they have nowhere to turn but themselves, their families and their faith.
As to the “unspeakable crimes,” well … here you are.
Men as victims, falsely accused. Evil feminists. You can learn a great deal about how Connie conceptualizes the world around her and why she behaves as she does about southern heritage. The pattern’s the same.
I just can’t wrap my head around why someone (a woman no less) would make false accusations her pet cause when the actual rapes are a bigger problem in society. Somewhere between 5 and 10 percent (its in the single digits) of accusations are proven false. That means 90% are not. Statistics are funny little critters that way. Also, many (if not most) of the wrongful convictions are because the wrong man was arrested and accused — BUT A RAPE STILL OCCURED. It doesn’t change the nature of the gender violence problem in society.
Besides, you can judge the whole by the few. Evil plotters like the feminists in her book are a microscopic minority among feminsts. They’re also CRIMINALS and most feminists would be horrified by such actions. Most feminists are not like that. Funny how she can use that logic to defend men and Confederates (not all men are rapists, not all Confederates owned slaves). Keep consistant — not all feminists plot to accuse men of sex crimes.
So after reading that interview, I understand Connie a bit more. We are very different (opposite, in fact) on everything except a love for the South. But when she gets into gender politics, it’s like a fingernail down the chalkboard. “Hook-up culture”? That’s got nothing to do with feminism. Besides, aren’t feminists supposed to be butch, frigid and possibly lesbian? Oh, wait, they’re supposed to be sluts. Damn, it’s hard keeping all these stereotypes straight. But they seem to be dominant themes in her writing, fictional and nonfictional.
She eschews feminism, sometimes ridicules it, and worst of all, frequently portrays feminists as bizarre, even monstrous. I personally don’t know any feminists like that, and I frankly resent the portrayal that slanders legions of good, decent people. Regardless of her opinion, feminism plays an important role in the lives of real people, though they may not realize it.
One wonders what she would make of this case in Florida.
I would love to see a refutation of the points made here:
Must be easy to sit on the sidelines and recklessly spew your “expertise” about things you probably know little about.
Is Connie a “Rainbow Confederate” or a “Rainbow Southerner”?
I also use the term “Rainbow” to describe a White Southerner who subscribes to non-traditional racial attitudes, specifically, their embrace of negro equality, social, civil, and political, which was the anathema known as “Black Republicanism” in the Confederacy.
To my knowledge, Howard Schuman’s Racial Attitudes In America: Trends and Interpretations is the most comprehensive study of White racial attitudes ever done in the United States.
Schuman uses polling data to track White racial attitudes in the North and South from the 1940s to the 2000s. If you read the book, you will find that the “Rainbow” racial attitudes only became mainstream in Dixie in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
In short, we’re talking about the peculiar worldview of the Baby Boomer generation, which is far removed from even the generation that filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Their worldview is based on the notion that America is “progressing” toward a multiracial colorblind utopia.
That’s where the comedy of the “Southern heritage” preservation movement comes from: it is neither “heritage” or “history,” but a contemporary impostor that is being substituted for the real thing.
That’s precisely why these people have proven to be so incapable of “preserving” our heritage … unlike, say, Thomas Dixon, Ben Tillman, or Margaret Mitchell when the Lost Cause was ascendant in the early twentieth century.
Part of Connie’s problem is that she defines her terms in interesting ways.
Noel, “racism” may be a fabricated term, but it describes something that actually exists. The problem is that the term is promiscuously used to describe all sorts of attitudes and behaviors. It has been stretched to cover so many things, it doesn’t have an objective meaning. Disagreement with = racism. Disapproval of = racism. Criticism of = racism… even when these things are accurate and warranted. However, hatred of a human being, or a group of human beings, simply because of their race or color, is wrong.
Then she elaborated:
Hatred, btw, is not an emotion, just as love is not an emotion. The corresponding emotions are dislike/anger and affection/approbation. But hate and love are attitudes, not emotions. Feelings come and go, change and change again. You can be angry at someone you deeply love. The anger will go away; the love remains steadfast regardless of how your feelings may change. Love is simply the steadfast attitude of wanting the best for another person. And hate is the attitude of wanting harm to come to another person. It is a steadfast attitude; you might even have positive feelings about someone you hate — admiration of their sense of humor, say — but you steadfastly wish harm to come to them. That is hate.
This helps one to understand Connie. She says I hate her; by her own definition of “hate” that means she believes I want harm to come to her. What nonsense. But it opens a window into her fantasy life … hey, maybe she might like Fifty Shades of Grey after all. 🙂
Connie has gone into an over the top rant. Her Facebook rant forum “Backsass” is alive again thanks to you Brooks.
I know. I’ve enabled her obsession, complete with the usual distortions, lies, and flights of fantasy. It’s also a way for her to divert attention from her problems this weekend. But I bet she really doesn’t disagree that she’s not a Rainbow Confederate, and I’m simply agreeing with her self-assessment. For Connie, it’s all personal. For me, it’s a never-ending source of amusement.
And yet Connie doesn’t disagree with me.
Link to where I have depicted the Confederacy of as a diverse society, culturally and racially tolerant. Link to ANY statements of mine that argue that the Confederacy was really about “fighting hate” or “fighting racism” and had nothing to do with slavery or white supremacy.
Now here’s Connie’s problem: she’s staked out some narrow ground for herself by daring someone to post that she’s said these things. Note, however, that she does not say whether she believes in them … just that she’s not expressed them in print. But let’s embrace the logical conclusion that Connie now accepts that the Confederacy has something to do with the efforts of white southerners to protect slavery and preserve white supremacy in an intolerant society. Watch her deny that she’s ever said that, either … and you’ll see that she’s just trying to be clever because she doesn’t want to share with everyone her understanding of the Confederacy.