While the anniversary of last year’s violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia has attracted most of the attention over the past few weeks, a smaller white supremacist development took place with even stranger implications.
Earlier this month, the white supremacist League of the South organization formally launched a series of Russian language pages, hoping to attract the support of Russian speakers across the world.
ThinkProgress reported on the impending Russian language material in July, noting that League of the South head Michael Hill had said he believes “the Russian people and the Southern people are natural allies against the destructive and impersonal impulses of globalism.”
The announcement came, as ThinkProgress was the first to report, nearly four years after Hill’s first outreach in Russia, when he Skyped in to a small Moscow-based conference organized by the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia — a group that would later receive funding from the Kremlin, and help bring California, Texas, and Hawaii separatists to Moscow. (The League of the South was invited to a large gathering of American and European neo-fascists in St. Petersburg in 2015, but did not end up attending.)
The new Russian language material appears relatively straightforward, and doesn’t detail any further contacts Hill or his group may have built up in Russia. However, it does offer another glimpse into how American white supremacists view potential Russian support.
For instance, much of the material outlines the League of the South’s racist and theocratic principles, however blinkered they may be. One of the pages details the “basic beliefs of the League of the South”: a “return to our own lofty cultural heritage,” a call to “throw off the yoke of imperial oppression.” As the group wrote on its Russian language “Reforms” page, translated by ThinkProgress, “men and women of the South should be outraged, but should not be surprised that the government of the United States has long humiliated citizens of several states… Secession is always preferable to slavery.”
Some of the pages try to move past the tired tropes that neo-Confederates often espouse. One page, entitled “Big Family or Future Nation,” points specifically to pieces of legislation like the 1965 Immigration Act, which apparently “clos[ed] the Golden Door to European immigrants.” (European immigrants are still free to move to the U.S.)
But the predominance of the new pages geared toward Russian speakers seem like a retread of the types of racist, idiotic sloganeering the League of the South so often prefers. As a quick sample:
- On the “Southern Nation” page, they write, “So I ask you, why should we remain and submit to the machinations of this gang from the District of Columbia? Can’t we do better ourselves?”
- On the “League and theocracy” page, they write, “The bogus god of the modern American Empire is a god who demands tolerance and pluralism, and his name is Caesar.”
- On the “Strategy of the League and the South” page, they write, “Life under the yoke of the Yankee Empire has already caused great harm to our Southern culture. Can we leave something for our children and grandchildren? Not if we let the Yankee Empire continue!”
It’s unclear if the League of the South has seen any response to their entreaties from Russian speakers. But that hasn’t stopped the neo-Confederates from responding to criticism of their attempts at treason. As they wrote in a separate post:
What these unhinged responses [to the Russian-language program] tell us is simple: that we have hit a big nerve on the Left. They indeed fear good relations between the Russian and Southern people (and the American people in general) and that such a detente might actually result in peace and cooperation between two of the world’s largest and most powerful White nations (meaning discrete people groups). It is our opinion that the Left would prefer another “brothers’ war” in which White men slaughtered each other by the millions. We will do all we can to prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again. This is the main goal of our outreach to the Russian people.
Prevention of “brothers’ war” may well be the cause of the League of the South’s new Russian outreach, but they’ve simultaneously announced plans to launch Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish language pages — all the better, they write, “to get the message of Southern nationalism out to the world.”
And they might have to increasingly rely on non-Russian help, anyway. As a new database of Russian tweets, which went live earlier this month, shows, Russian social media interference was perfectly fine pushing back against Confederate messaging. While some Russian accounts lent their support to the Lost Cause, others tried to undercut the neo-Confederates’ message, playing up divisions along the way. As the Russian @WatchMeWalkin Twitter account wrote, “i had family from the south who fought for the union and what was right. fuck the confederacy and anyone who respects it.”