BANNER’S BIGGEST BACKERS “PARALYZED” DURING DEBATE
|| By FITSNEWS || Earlier this month our website exposed efforts by South Carolina leaders – most notably S.C. Senate president Hugh Leatherman – to bribe Confederate flag backers into supporting the controversial banner’s removal from the S.C. State House grounds.
Those efforts were unnecessary … and unsuccessful. The flag was coming down no matter what came of these secret negotiations between Palmetto politicians and leaders of the South Carolina division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCSCV).
But the flag flap has exposed deep divisions within the neo-Confederate movement – as our reporting on a looming court battle has revealed.
Sources close to the movement tell us there was a “bitterly contested” fight last year for the SCSCV leadership role between Leland Summers of Lancaster, S.C. and Jeff Antley of Mount Pleasant, S.C.
“Antley represented a more more progressive, modern approach for the organization using social media and the internet to solicit new members and get (its) message across,” one source said. “Summers was more of a traditionalist. Many saw the race as the 21st Century versus the 19th Century with the latter winning in what was a dirty, smear campaign.”
When the rebel banner came under siege in the aftermath of the “Holy City Massacre” – the mass murder of nine black parishioners by a flag-toting white supremacist in Charleston, S.C. – the SCSCV was supposed to lead the fight to keep the flag where it was.
Instead the organization was paralyzed.
“When the momentum started building for the Confederate flag removal, rank and file members were in the dark as to what Summers and others were going to do,” our source said. “Many wanted to have a rally at the State House. But except for some e-mails sent out to the members, the set-up of a donation website and a few press releases the members were mostly kept in the dark. When Summers made his one statement that he would not talk again until after the funerals, it was a ploy for time because he had no clue what to do. Apparently a lot of phone calls and conference calls were made but nothing was done.”
Was this because the SCSCV was really frozen?
Or was it because Summers and the leadership of the organization were busy negotiating in secret with Leatherman?
“Right now there is A LOT of anger within the SCSCV towards Summers and his handling of the situation,” our source said. “While there are some who wish Summers would fall on his sword and resign as commander, I doubt that will happen. He will probably serve out his term which ends next spring. I doubt that he will seek re-election, but if he does, he will probably lose.”
Why does this matter?
Well, support for the flag remains strong in certain pockets of rural South Carolina and the socially conservative Upstate region of the state – and the recent controversy has only emboldened that support.
Meanwhile, flag backers have made it clear they intend to run campaigns against multiple lawmakers who voted to lower the banner – with one pro-flag lawmaker recently suggesting as many as 10-18 S.C. House members could lose their seats as a result of the issue.