Two Tennessee lawmakers listed as guests at secessionist group meeting

November 1, 2013

The Charleston Mercury Extra, Dec. 20, 1860. (Credit: Alfred Whital Stern Collection, Rare Book and Special Collection Division, Library of Congress/Digital ID: us0120.)

 

The chairman of the Southern National Congress, a secessionist group, sees the modern U.S. as an “Empire.” This is not the America the founders envisioned, he has written, so it’s time for a large section of the nation to strike out on its own. The group is hosting an event in Tennessee this weekend and, according to its Web site, two state lawmakers will be there.

Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma) and Sen. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) are both listed as planning to attend the event in a state park this weekend, but while Niceley told the Tennessean that he agrees that the South could someday secede, Matheny wouldn’t respond to requests for comment.

“Niceley dismissed his critics’ allegations that the Southern National Congress has hate-group ties and said, in any case, it wants to hear his ideas, not the other way around. He agrees with the group’s idea that the South might one day be its own nation, like each of the 13 colonies after the American Revolution,” the paper’s Heidi Hall reports. Niceley has sponsored a handful of bills on issues such as taxes, firearms, election laws and state government.

Matheny didn’t respond to the Tennessean, but David O. Jones, chairman of the SNC, did. Jones said he and Matheny have met several times and that the lawmaker had requested that his name be removed from the webpage, but only because he was unavailable this weekend.

The civil rights organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has dubbed Jones’s group a “a neo-Confederate group focused exclusively on advancing a new secession through political means.” And, in a blog post alongside a photo of President Obama doctored to show him with a turban, long beard and Islamic star and crescent, Jones has called U.S. citizens who continue to pledge allegiance to the “Empire” modern Tories.

“Secessionists are not so much leaving ‘America’ as the Empire has left us,” he wrote.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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