BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — As 21st century activists seek to topple monuments to the 19th century Confederate rebellion, some white Southerners are again advocating for what the Confederates tried and failed to do: secede from the Union.
It’s not an easy argument to win, and it’s not clear how much support the idea has: The leading Southern nationalist group, the Alabama-based League of the South, has been making the same claim for more than two decades and still has an address in the USA, not the CSA.
But the idea of a break-away Southern nation persists.
The League of the South’s longtime president, retired university professor Michael Hill of Killen, Alabama, posted a message in July that began, ‘‘Fight or die white man’’ and went on to say Southern nationalists seek ‘‘nothing less than the complete reconquest and restoration of our patrimony — the whole, entire South.’’
‘‘And that means the South will once again be in name and in actuality White Man’s Land.
A place where we and our progeny can enjoy Christian liberty and the fruits of our own labor, unhindered by parasitical ‘out groups,’’’ said Hill’s message, posted on the group’s Facebook page a day after a rally in support of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The group’s website says it is ‘‘waging a war to win the minds and hearts of the Southern people,’’
While white-controlled government is its goal, the group says in a statement of beliefs that it offers ‘‘good will and cooperation to Southern blacks in areas where we can work together as Christians to make life better for all people in the South.’’
According to the US Census, 55 percent of the nation’s black population lived in the South in 2010, and 105 Southern counties had a black population of 50 percent or higher.
Hill said they’re not advocating for a repeat of a Civil War that claimed 620,000 lives or a return to slavery, the lynchpin of the South’s antebellum economy.