Silver Rights

News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004  

News: White supremacist Matt Hale convicted

Matthew Hale has been convicted of attempting to have a federal judge murdered. He is the second leader of organized racists to feel the sting of the law recently. Georgia white supremacist Chester Doles was sentenced March 18, after pleading guilty to beng a felon in possession of firearms. The Associated Press has the story of Hale's downfall.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Matthew Hale, the self-styled "Pontifex Maximus" of a white supremacist group, was found guilty Monday of trying to have a federal judge killed after she ruled against him in a trademark case.

Hale, 32, was found guilty of four of the five charges against him. Hale, who preached a gospel of "racial holy war," was found innocent of one of two counts of soliciting the murder of a federal judge. The judge was not attacked.

The conviction comes almost five years after Hale first attracted national attention when a follower of his World Church of the Creator went on a deadly shooting rampage, targeting minorities in Illinois and Indiana.

Hale's reaction to Benjamin Smith's three-day shooting spree -- Hale laughed about it and imitated gunfire in secretly recorded tapes played for the jury -- was part of the prosecution's case.

Smith killed two people, including former Northwestern basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong, and wounded nine before killing himself in July 1999 as police closed in.

I was doubtful that Hale would be convicted. To reach that decision, the jurors had to interpret a statute that requires multiple instances of intent. The evidence was there, but could have been easily misunderstood. Hale expressed intent to have U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey murdered to one witness. Then, months later, he discussed the matter with his bodyguard, the informant who testified at trial, in veiled terms. The informant believed that discussion to be his marching orders. The jurors had to connect the first expression of intent with the second, expressed to a different person, to convict Hale. The risk was that the jurors would seek the multiple expressions of intent in one episode. However, they interpreted the statute correctly.

I don't accept the defense's contention that Hale was convicted because he expressed unpopular opinions. His henchmen have acted on his advice to injure and kill people in the past. Though Hale may never actually carry out an act of violence himself, he has proven he can persuade his followers to act on his behalf. He is a dangerous individual.

A common response of people who sympathize with bigotry is to say no one is hurt by it. The more deceptive of them will assure you it is all just joking around. The records of Hale and his cohorts prove otherwise. They or their followers have committed numerous acts of violence, leaving hundreds of people hurt or dead, in just the last two decades. Putting Hale behind bars may well save some lives.

posted by J. | 7:00 PM

Monday, April 26, 2004  

News: Constitution of Confederacy tells it tale today

Some Southern states commemorate the Confederacy with Confederate Memorial Day today. According to a neo-Confederate site, other states have different dates for the commemoration.

In Texas it is known as Confederate Heroes Day and celebrated January 19.

The Confederate Memorial Day is observed on April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; on May 10 in North Carolina and South Carolina; on May 30 in Virginia; and on June 3 in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee.

Celebration usually consists of meetings of 'heritage' organizations, such as the Sons and the Daughters of the Confederacy, and, decoration of the graves of Confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

Among the states celebrating the Confederacy today is Georgia, which has the original Constitution of the Confederacy in its state library collection. The University of Georgia is lowkey about its stewardship of the document.

The University has owned the original copy of the Confederate Constitution since 1938 and presents the document on the memorial holiday every year.

"I try to draw people's attention by having a big exhibit," said Mary Ellen Brooks, the director of the Hargrett Library. "We have both Northern Union material as well as Southern and Confederate and Georgia material."

The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation in 1874 to deem April 26 of every year as Memorial Day, according to the Carl Vinson Institute of Government's Web site.

Georgia shares the April 26 holiday with Florida, while the remainder of the Southern states honor different dates relating to other Civil War anniversaries.

The Georgia Department of Motor Vehicle Safety will be closed on Saturday in observance of the holiday, according to a press release.

The relationship of neo-Confederates to the constitution and the articles of secession of the states is an odd one. The historical documents are rarely referred to verbatim. That is likely because they undermine a key component of the neo-Confederate, and, increasingly, libertarian, perspective on the cause of the Civil War.

Historian Nash Boney sheds some light on why.

Boney said the Confederate Constitution displayed on the third floor of the Main Library is an "interesting document."

"It very specifically spells out and protects slavery," he said. "It's interesting, the people who come to see the Confederate constitution -- a lot of non-students come to see it."

Neo-Confederates and libertarians claim that protecting states rights was the major cause of the Civil War. They carefully ignore the fact that the 'right' most protected was to own slaves. Once one acknowledges that, the rhetoric about the poor oppressed South rings hollow. The 'right' is specified in Section 2 of Article IV.

Sec. 2. (I) The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired.

Section 3 of Article IV guards against slaves escaping and tries to maintain their slave status when they travel into Union territory.

(3) No slave or other person held to service or labor in any State or Territory of the Confederate States, under the laws thereof, escaping or lawfully carried into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such slave belongs,. or to whom such service or labor may be due.

The claims of the far Right about the reasons the South seceded from the Union melt away when one actually looks at the evidence.

Read the entire Constitution of the Confederacy and related documents at Yale's Avalon Project.

What's the art?

A detail from the Confederate Constitution for the state of Texas.

posted by J. | 8:13 AM