The barbarians have breached the city walls. In the office, the blacks are coming after a man's job. In the schools, they're chasing his daughter. The welfare blacks are fornicating and having more welfare blacks, and the Border Patrol is saying "Olé!" as the Mexicans come in. And a pervert is in the White House having deviant sex.
Someone has got to do something about this godawful mess, and that is why George Paul Kalas is here. He and a grumbling band of "Anglo-Celtic" Southerners have decided to salvage what they can of this country and to get the hell out. They hope to take the entire South with them. In the days of the Confederacy, that meant 11 states, but they figure they'll let 16 come along, or maybe 17, if one of them can think of something Southern about Delaware.
What's more, Mr. Kalas, who seems to believe he is a reasonable man, expects to do this thing completely unarmed. He is founding a political party. Protesting federal tyranny, he hopes to achieve his goal through democracy. Secession will be a simple matter of getting the vote out.
It's not funny -- don't laugh.
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"Has anyone alerted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?" one scalawag wrote on hearing the news. On the Web, a group of Yankees chose to look at the bright side of secession -- collapse of the Confederate economy would surely bring cheap cigarettes, and cheap golf at Hilton Head, and maybe even cheap Southern labor coming up to mow Yankee yards. Not to mention that "civilized portions of North America will no longer have to worry about exposure to grits."
It's not funny -- don't laugh. Mr. Kalas doesn't appreciate it. When an Alabama disc jockey opined that the new Confederacy would be known as "land of the free, mobile home of the brave," that DJ was duly reported to the office of the Southern Anti-Defamation League in Columbia, South Carolina. (It could happen to you.) Mr. Kalas issued a press release. "In politically correct America," he intoned, the only ethnic group still safely ridiculed is the white Southerner. This is going to change, Mr. Kalas declared. "Southerners aren't lying down and taking this treatment any longer. Bubba demands the same treatment as every other Tom, Dick and Harry, and he's going to get it."
At 37, George P. Kalas confesses that he is a bit large these days to squeeze into his old Confederate re-enactor's outfit. He reports to work at Baker Hughes, the manufacturer of oilfield drilling equipment, where as a Webmaster, he spends the day staring at a computer screen. After work, he returns to a modest little house in a pleasant little Woodlands neighborhood. He greets his wife, perhaps strokes his Pomeranian, and then he returns to the computer screen, where he spends the evening. Mr. Kalas's little uprising has thus far been confined mostly to cyberspace. In August, the Southern Party will formally announce itself, and Mr. Kalas hopes that people attend his party's party. A dress code will be strictly enforced, and Mr. Kalas hopes that everyone looks good for the media. Perhaps a Negro will even show up, and if a Negro wants to join the struggle for a better tomorrow, that is certainly okay with Mr. Kalas.
One of Mr. Kalas's favorite lines is that Mr. Lincoln was wrong: A house divided against itself can stand. "It's called a duplex," he said. Secession can be achieved, if the secessionists will only unite.
But everything in Mr. Kalas's experience shows that Mr. Lincoln was right. Just as Lincoln had trouble with secessionists, just as Jefferson Davis had difficulty maintaining the support of the Confederate Congress, Mr. Kalas has struggled with his men. The Web is littered with the debris of their battles. They are trying to break apart from the country, but they seem only to break apart from one another.
Mr. Kalas's group is divided over the same issues that split the country then -- the role of blacks in society and the question of how that society should be governed. The root of the problem seems to be the nature of a secessionist: Each of the men has a pretty good idea of how things ought to be run. They are prone to disagree, and in disagreement, the secessionist impulse is to depart.
The problem is perhaps compounded by the fact that they are supremacist secessionists. If it is true that a secessionist is fundamentally antisocial, then it is also true that a supremacist is essentially snooty. Mr. Kalas seemed to think he was superior to the rest of the supremacists. Are they going to take that from him?
Oh, why couldn't they get along? Why couldn't they be smiling, happy supremacists holding hands? The supremacist secessionists fell into a great civil war, and at the very center of the conflict was Mr. Kalas. He was the loudest advocate of secession, yet his men came to suspect he was a federal agent.
How George P. Kalas became a rebel all began with a movie. This was about 25 years ago, before the neighborhood of his youth, Aldine-Westfield, was overtaken by Hispanics; before, as a Web bio puts it, "great Anglo-Celtic celebrations" like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo were "destroyed by the infusion of politically correct multiculturalism." Before, in short, the country went fully to hell in a handbasket.
Most kids were already "maggot-infested, dope-smoking, FM-listening, long-hair types," but George figures he was okay -- a clean-cut 12-year-old at the military academy in Harlingen. Then mother came to visit, and she took him to see Gone with the Wind. "That wonderful old movie," said George, put him on the road to the man he is today.
A certain fustiness fell over George. He went immediately in search of roots. His father was a Greek immigrant who ran a hot dog restaurant in Houston called Tony's Coneys. George was more interested in his mother's family tree. Digging into the past, he found four Confederate great-great-grandfathers there. He also learned that he was a little Scotch, a little Irish, some French, Swiss and Dutch, and a bit Native American and Jewish, too. George was, as he put it, a "mongrel," but knowing the role his ancestors had played in the country made him feel he belonged here, and perhaps even belonged more than other people.
He read everything he could find about the "War of Northern Aggression." His study brought him to the unshakable belief that the wrong side had won. The country had changed from a confederation of independent states to provinces under "big government." And big government had only brought misery, all this "liberal racial social engineering."
"Nothing's turned out as I expected, Ashley. Nothing."
"Yes, we've traveled a long road, haven't we, Scarlett? Oh, the lazy days -- the warm still country twilight, the high soft Negro laughter from the quarters. The golden warmth and security of those days."
George became an opponent of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, integration, affirmative action. The son of an immigrant became a foe of immigration. As he explained it, the son should not be held responsible for the sins of the father.
When he left the University of Texas, his cohorts on the conservative newspaper wrote that he had humbled "many a lefty" in debate. "George is, after all, the only person we know who knows exactly how many launchers the Soviets have deployed in Outer Mongolia."
The CIA was looking for a few good men like George. The agency confirms that after he graduated, George did indeed go off to fight in the Cold War. Mostly he did background checks for security clearances. It was usually dull work, but George didn't get bored until the Soviet Union fell. To entertain himself then, he became a Confederate re-enactor. Moving from one Confederate circle to another, he eventually met the author of a book advocating secession.
Instead of starting a file on the subversive, George bought the book. He was reading it one day in 1991, when he was spotted by a fellow agent.
"Very interesting," said the agent.
George left the federal government shortly afterward. In 1995, he was working as a webmaster when he showed up at a meeting of the League of the South.
After the Soviet Union fell, a number of secessionist groups arose, encouraged by the notion that big things do indeed fall apart. Some spoke of ousting blacks from the homeland, but the League positioned itself as a Southern heritage group composed of gentlemen and scholars. Members stood up for rebel flags and statues, lamented the past, groused about the present and drank. They were "credible people leading credible lives," said George, and he appears to have seen them as an army looking for a war.
Thomas Fleming, one of the League's directors, recalled that George seemed "a nice young man" when he arrived, someone who was good with computers and could probably contribute to the cause. Kalas wanted to start a Web site for the League. The board knew nothing about the Web and figured it couldn't hurt.
He fell to the task with typical zeal, hovering over the computer until late at night. The Commies were dead, but the Yankees were not. George adorned the Web site with rebel flags, christened it "Dixienet" and went on with the hard work of truth and freedom.
When he gave his address, it was "Occupied Texas." When his wife had her portrait done, it was in a red dress, $egrave; la Scarlett. The South, as George saw it, was under attack by "a highly vocal cabal of liberal black racial extremist agitators," by "Yankee carpetbaggers," by "Southern scalawags" (traitors) and by poor "Naive Southerners who have never been exposed to an unbiased treatment of Southern history."
George mounted a passionate defense. He announced that henceforth the "Yankee inspired Webster's" would be overthrown in favor of "traditional Southern orthography based on the British Oxford's standard." The S ousted the Z. Being a good rebel suddenly meant paying attention to your spelling.
He filled the Web site with tons of cool stuff: a eulogy to George Wallace; "another excellent Pat Buchanan column"; a "Wanted" poster for that "First Tyrant of the American Empire," Abraham Lincoln; and George's own column, which he blithely described as "weekly potshots at the political cranks, socialist crackpots, race-baiting equalitarians, thieving carpetbaggers, traitorous scalawags and the rest of the scurvy, flea-bitten, one-eyed cur dawgs who comprise that happy-go-lucky bunch referred to by the media as 'moderates.'"
These were the people generating the "disgusting evidence" of bigotry against Southerners, otherwise known as the redneck joke.
"If this kind of thing gets you madder than a wet hen, then we hope you will take a stand for Dixie -- Join the League of the South Today!"
There were a lot of wet hens out there. In the first year of the site, national membership jumped from 875 to 2,000. Kalas was given the title "Director of Internet Communications" and a staff of a half-dozen volunteers. The Web was a wonderful thing, board members decided, but this Kalas chap was a bit exuberant, wasn't he?
The Rebmaster did the work that sometimes wasn't pretty but that had to be done. When the Republic of Texas showed up at a meeting, it was he who sent them packing. They were bad for the League image. "Bunch of cranks on the fringe," he called them.
Outsiders who registered dissenting views on Dixienet had their letters posted in a "hate mail" section, occasionally with the results of the research Mr. Kalas had done into their lives. The Rebmaster was exceptionally rough with Crawfish, a man whose hobby it was to disseminate information about the "threat" of neo-Confederates. The Rebmaster wrote long denunciations of Crawfish. One day Crawfish stumbled upon a Web site about himself. He was identified as "an open homosexual" with "a black lover" who resides in "a minority neighborhood" in Dallas. There was a photo of him with an address. The graphic was a ticking clock. "Time's Up, Crawfish," the headline read.
Credit was claimed by "the Texas Cyberpickets of the Knights of Confederate Truth." The Rebmaster linked Dixienet to the Web page. George did not limit his attacks to outsiders. The enemy was also within. George confronted his fellow rebels, not even stopping short of abusing a lady, "in language that in better days would have provoked a more than verbal challenge from decent men," Fleming observed.
The League, meanwhile, grew "like kudzu," as the president said. Membership reached 12,000, and everyone was grateful to the Rebmaster, they really were, but also the board appointed a committee to monitor what he placed on the Web. And they were just beginning to see the downside to George, when he began yakking about race.
According to Kalas, League members had "wrestled" over whether to be openly racist. They decided against it. They were, after all, gentlemen and scholars. Fleming was the publisher of the conservative magazine Chronicles. Three on the board of directors were history professors: Grady McWhiney at Texas Christian University, Clyde Wilson at the University of South Carolina, and the president, Michael Hill, taught at predominantly black Stillman College.
They were men with stakes in society, which they wanted to protect from the Negroes, without the risk of losing it for being called racist. Race was a delicate issue. Members were schooled in how to speak to the media. If possible, the issue should be avoided, but when pressed members typically held that just as the South fought for states' rights and not slavery, the League's beliefs are based on states' rights and not racism.
The board hesitated to set up a private listserver for group discussion, according to Kalas, in the fear that e-mail conversation would turn to race. ("And oh, how our enemies would love this!") But the need to provide a place to vent overrode discretion, and the listserver was established. Everyone behaved himself, until the arrival of Dennis Wheeler. He was not the "toothless Kluxer idiot" whom Kalas shunned, but a racist who knew his grammar and orthography. Kalas became his "archenemy," he wrote. They fell into "total war."
It began when Kalas announced a victory -- the group's first black member. "A great stride," Kalas called it. Others agreed. And then Wheeler was heard from.
"Gentlemen," he wrote, "I can't say I share your enthusiasm over recruiting black and Jewish members into the Southern League."
Wheeler said he didn't like black music, that their churches were "hotbeds for Marxism" and that in any case, he couldn't understand black people when they spoke.
As Internet Director, Kalas could have squelched the topic right there. Instead, he answered, "I am for my culture first." While he was "repelled" by black culture, it is "true to the ideals of our Confederate forefathers" to use blacks to advance the cause of white culture. Stonewall Jackson did it. Everyone did it. "A little pragmatism is a healthy thing," said Kalas.
But Wheeler saw working side by side with blacks as an embrace of the Yankee victory and all the "horror" of the Civil Rights Act and integration. "The battle now is to stop the spread of ethnic diversity," Wheeler said. He proposed a Southern nation of whites only.
Kalas applied to Wheeler the kinder, gentler term "racialist." As a man of the times himself, Kalas said Wheeler's thinking was an "anachronism." To propose forcing blacks out of the South would be "a public relations nightmare," said Kalas, that would "permanently marginalise this movement as a cultured, better-educated and polite KKK without the bedsheets."
Wheeler had another idea: If they could ever get rid of these welfare programs, perhaps slavery could be brought back, as "most blacks in America would find themselves destitute and on the brink of starvation and in need of a master."
Kalas didn't try. "Dennis, you are one sick puppy," he wrote. Wheeler said there were a lot of people like him in the League. Kalas asked all racists to stand and be counted ("You'll find I don't censor people here"), and then things really fell apart on the League of the South listserver. People stood and defended Wheeler, and the white supremacists began denouncing the white separatists. And Kalas looked around and considered that something sinister might be going on. His training in the CIA had given him special insight into spies, he wrote to Wheeler, and "I'm beginning to wonder if you are not an agent provocateur."
Kalas also called him an outright racist, a bigot and a hate monger. Wheeler was not a special agent, but he was happily everything else. And as he saw it, "for someone waving the battle flag to be calling me those names, it's just ridiculous."
It seemed to him the League was dishonest. How could they call themselves Confederates without embracing the Confederate cause? They say the issue was states' rights. Well, what was the right the states wanted? During the Civil War, it was to maintain slavery, and in the civil rights movement, it was to preserve segregation. The rebels were racist, said Wheeler. He was determined to be "a man about it."
"We have to look at what the Confederates believed and what they did, and then we have to decide, 'Were they right, or were they wrong?' Well," said Wheeler, "I've decided they were right."
Wheeler had placed the good name and reputation of the League in jeopardy, wrote the
Rebmaster: "That was not acceptable." All guarantees of free speech to the contrary, Kalas shut Wheeler out of the listserver. Wheeler was soon expelled from the League. He was declared persona non grata, said Kalas, "a fit punishment for subversives and spies."
In the spring of 1998, the League built a statue in Nashville of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, never mentioning that Forrest was the founder of the Klan.
By then, the president of the United States had been caught with his pants down, and when the "Republicrats" let the pervert go, the League decided it was time to form a third party.
The League members had talked big talk about secession for a long time. They supported every secession movement in the world except the one in Kosovo, which President Hill considered an ethnic uprising. They had done a little research and had figured that if they could take enough states, the South would have about as many people as Mexico and would equal Germany in gross domestic product. Professor Clyde Wilson had even fantasized of a place without income tax where you can smoke anywhere you want, where cars won't have airbags or "those stupid lights that come on by themselves," where murderers will be efficiently executed, and where "we won't have a bit of difficulty telling the difference between a citizen and an illegal alien."
But when the time came, most of the gentlemen balked. One goes into politics to achieve things, said Fleming, and no one was going to vote for secession. The League supported the concept, said President Hill, "but we're not going to stand on the street corner and demand it." They were gentlemen, after all -- not Jacobins.
Except for that Kalas fellow. He was a bit hard-core. He became chairman of the exploratory committee and was not pleased to discover dissent. Committee members had different ideas of how things should be done, and so it was hard for the committee to determine what to do.
They split into two central factions: those who would stay within the union and those who would try to go. The "unionists" foresaw a party organized as a confederation, each state's chapter determining its own course. The secessionists were led by Kalas. Fighting federal tyranny, he wanted a centralized government for his political party, with himself as national party leader.
The unionists were superior in number, but they were weak people, in Kalas's view -- people afraid to be ridiculed, fearful of losing their jobs and of "black Ninja types" from the BATF coming in the night. Terrible strife broke out between the groups. The unionists called Kalas a "dictator." Kalas said they were all a bunch of scalawags and cowards. When the time came to vote on secession, Kalas saw his group was in the minority and organized a rebellion.
The political party split into two -- the confederated unionists going one way, and after taking a loyalty oath, Kalas's big-government secessionists going the other. The League, in turn, was divided over which party to support. Factions broke out everywhere. It was generally believed that the Rebmaster was responsible. At the League's national conference in June, Fleming said dozens of people came to him, wondering if the Rebmaster might not be an agent provocateur.
Nah, said Fleming. "I've been around the block enough to know that human nature can be infinitely bizarre."
But then again, how could the political party have been discredited more?
The board voted to divest itself of both political parties. The League was just not going to get into it. When Kalas heard the news, he took it like a man. Then he began fomenting discord again, declaring on a rebel bulletin board that the board lacked that "essential fire in the belly," which he so abundantly had.
The board wasn't going to take this anymore from the Rebmaster.
"Although we have all appreciated your contributions to the League," wrote Thomas Fleming, "your unfortunate propensity to personalize every issue, to leave no remark or insult unanswered, and to avoid no quarrel that might damage LOS has made it increasingly difficult to justify your actions."
The Web site was taken from the Rebmaster. He was declared persona non grata and expelled from the League.
"The possibility exists that George Kalas was a plant for the left from the beginning," Wheeler observed.
Kalas went on to do more of the hard work of freedom for the Southern Party. The great secession party is August 7, and Kalas hopes that people come. His name has been in the newspaper quite a lot lately, usually with suppressed laughter ("Secession Again?" tittered the AP). But George Kalas is never laughing.
For several days after his expulsion, Kalas sulked around. He complained a lot. And then, though he will never admit it, Kalas realized Lincoln was right. Perhaps this duplex thing was a bad idea.
He sat down and wrote a message to the League's board of directors. "The Southern Party Olive Branch," he called it. He wrote that he hoped for "a general reunion of all parties involved." He sent out "overtures of camaraderie and friendship." He waited for days, but there was no answer at all.
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