Rand Paul’s potential bid for the 2016 Republican presidential ticket may be further stymied by recent reports that one of his aides served as a White power, pro-secession radio DJ.
Even as the Paul campaign hired Jack Hunter to write Paul’s book, “The Tea Party Goes to Washington,” in 2010, he was carrying out his work as the pro-Confederate, pro-secessionist talking head named the “Southern Avenger.” In 2012, the same year he gave up his radio program, Hunter took over as Paul’s social media director.
His radio name was more than a title — it was a way of life. Until 2007, he didn’t attend a public event without the Avenger mask, a wrestling-style hood with a depiction of the Confederate flag across the face.
The exposure of Paul’s right-hand man is anything but good news for the senator and his bid for the 2016 Republican Party nomination, especially in light of his recent efforts to reach out to minority voters.
In April, he spoke at Howard University, a historically Black college. In an interview with National Public Radio, he said he wanted to reach out to the African-American population, especially those who feel turned off by the Republican Party.
“I think what I tell people is, is that I think there’s a lot more of the African-American population that is and will be receptive to the Republican message but we’re just not showing up,” he said. “We haven’t been showing up for years. We need to show up in venues and say these are our policies. We want to hear from you.”
Hunter began his charade in 1999, when he was invited to be a guest host on The Critic radio program. From there, he became a personality known for his outrageously conservative political views and offensive attitude.
“The whole idea of the Southern Avenger was to be an anonymous superhero,” Hunter told the Charleston City Paper in 2011. “So, if I’m going to do a remote at a bar and judge a drinking contest or a wet T-shirt contest, what would a Southern Avenger wear who is a wrestling fan to boot? Well, a wrestling mask.”
His questionable character dates back to his college years. Before he morphed into the political superhero, he headed the Charleston chapter of the League of the South, labeled a racist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“The League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that advocates for the second Southern secession and a society dominated by ‘European Americans,’” the Southern Poverty Law Center states on its site.
In an April 2013 post, the Anti-Defamation League referred to the organization as a neo-Confederate hate group.
While Hunter was involved with the organization, board member Jack Kershaw was quoted as describing slavery as a benefit for Black Americans.
“Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery,” Kershaw said in 1998. “Where in the world are the Negroes better off today than in America?”
Hunter was listed as a chairman for the Charleston chapter of the League of the South in 1999.
“When I was part of it, they were very explicit that’s not what they were about,” Hunter told the conservative Washington Free Beacon, which broke the story this week. “I was just a young person, it was a fairly radical group — the same way a person on the left might be attracted in college to some left-wing radical groups.”
Hunter’s twisted history
This is not the first wave of accusations of racism facing Hunter, but it does come after repeated attempts to clear his image, indicating his attempts were nothing more than lip service.
Now, after the most recent wave of controversy, he’s claiming that he is no longer the man who once hid behind the Southern Avenger mask. In a statement released on his website, he claims that he was playing up to the role of a radio DJ, where being inflammatory and provocative is encouraged.
“I abhor racism and have always treated everyone I’ve met with dignity and respect as individuals,” he said in his statement. “This was true in the past and it is true now.”
Is it really?
In 2004, in a column titled, “Are White People Out of Style?” Hunter sympathized with White people’s lack of freedom to celebrate their race.
“Black Americans are encouraged to celebrate their racial identity by appealing to their shared experience of injustice and African roots, and white hip-hop is a worldwide phenomenon, rap is still a musical culture that is defined overwhelmingly by black American youth,” he wrote. “Hispanics indulge in an even more nationalistic form of racial identity by flying Mexican flags, listening to a foreign music that both black and white Americans have never heard of, and turning everywhere they settle into northern outposts of their Mexican homeland.”
He goes on to claim that White people are not awarded the same freedoms.
“And then there are white people. Not only are whites not afforded the same right to celebrate their own cultural identity — but anything that is considered ‘too white’ is immediately suspect,” he wrote.
His article ignores the various Scandinavian culture celebrations that regularly are accepted throughout the U.S. without controversy. Hunter apparently was referring to White pride organizations.
Another article in 2004 applauds the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, using a third-person narrative to describe his own favorable feelings toward assassin John Wilkes Booth.
“This Wednesday, April 14th, is the 139th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Although Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place, the Southern Avenger does regret that Lincoln’s murder automatically turned him into a martyr,” he wrote.
In 2007, he wrote the article, “Race, Immigration and American Destiny,” in which he cautioned that a pluralistic society could lead to destruction of America.
“That Americans, white or otherwise, don’t want Spanish-speaking people dominating their airwaves, neighborhoods or country is no more racist than Mexico’s lack of interest in Seinfeld,” he wrote. “Native Americans had no illusions about how their land would change as boatloads of white men landed on their shores and modern Americans aren’t wrong to deplore the millions of Mexicans coming here now. A non-white America would simply cease to be America for reasons that are as numerous as they are obvious — whether we are supposed to mention them or not.”
Defending his name
In his most recent statement, he also claims the Washington Free Beacon reporter who broke the story chose only to highlight the parts of his past that would point to racism.
He defended himself with a link to an April 1 column published in The American Conservative titled, “Why Gay Marriage Isn’t the ‘60s Civil Rights Fight.”
He starts the article with this line: “The 20-something me would consider the 30-something me a bleeding-heart liberal.”
He goes on to sympathize with the treatment of Black slaves in America, claiming no one should be subjected to the treatment they endured. Yet he also acknowledges a change in his perspective.
He also links to another article to defend his past, yet the content of it also includes traces of racism.
“My America is admittedly different from Obama’s,” he wrote in a 2008 column published in the Charleston City Paper. “I know religious folks who don’t think much of homosexuals. I know white folks who don’t think too kindly of black people. I know young people (usually white and privileged) who don’t think much of their own country.”
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