The head of Maryland's Republican Party, Joe Cluster, has called local candidate Michael Peroutka to the woodshed for a "clarification" about his involvement with a high-profile, white nationalist hate group. At least that's what Cluster thinks the subject of their July 25 meeting will be.
But wait until he reads this.
On July 8, as I reported, Peroutka wrote a letter to Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, asking the neo-Confederate hate group to help his campaign. Peroutka wanted to thank the League, which advocates for secession and theocratic government by and for white people, for its friendship, work, and hospitality. Peroutka had just won the GOP's nomination for Anne Arundel County Council, as well as a seat on the Republican Central Committee there, and it made perfect sense that he would reach out to the no doubt many members of the organization on which he once served on the Board of Directors for their support.
'Guerilla War' and Assassinations
Perhaps Peroutka was surprised the following week, when on July 15, Hill wrote an essay for the League's website titled "A Bazooka in Every Pot," in which he outlines a program of "guerrilla war," marked by "three-to-five-man" death squads which would target government leaders, journalists, and other public figures for assassination, in order to advance the League's goals.
"To oversimplify," writes Hill, "the primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don't run."
On the other hand, Hill's views may come as no surprise to Peroutka, who routinely rails against the "tyranny" of state and federal government. He detests Maryland's laws supporting marriage equality, transgender rights, and stormwater runoff fees intended to keep the Chesapeake Bay from choking on pollution. (In demagogic style, Peroutka calls these environmental conservation fees tyrannical "rain taxes.")
In recent essays of his own, Peroutka questions whether Maryland's state legislature is "no longer a valid legislative body," and argues that the duty of the County Council and the sheriff should be to "resist" enforcement of any law that does not measure up to his notion of "God's Law." Perhaps fortuitously, Joe Delimater, an elder in Peroutka's church who shares these views, is the GOP candidate for Sheriff of Anne Arundel County. One might say they are a pair of theocratic running mates. The Maryland chapter of the League of the South features Delimater's comments on "The War Between the States."
Peroutka faces Democratic challenger Patrick Armstrong, who joined in forming a slate of candidates in the Democratic primary to call out Peroutka's Pastor, Rev. David Whitney (who serves as the chaplain of the Maryland chapter of the League of the South, and who ran in the Democratic primary for the same County Council seat that Peroutka seeks). I am the former treasurer of the slate, which shut down after achieving its goal of defeating Whitney.
Clarify about the Death Squads, Too
Peroutka, as a wealthy debt collection attorney, flies a Confederate battle flag over his multi-million dollar estate and calls it "the American flag."
Unsurprisingly , Peroutka lamented in an article in 2005 that the wrong side won the Civil War. He wrote:
"Most people in America wouldn't understand. In large measure, this is because most people in America have been led to think that America won that war.
"But the evidence is more and more clear to me that America and our American Constitution lost that war."
He then eulogized Confederate soldiers as those who "sacrificed life and limb for the cause of American Independence." Every year, to commemorate President Jefferson Davis' birthday, Peroutka donates $1,000 to preserve Confederate gravestones in Baltimore's Loudon Cemetery, and to decorate soldiers' graves with Confederate battle flags.
Peroutka took to the stage at the League's 2012 national conference to declare in his keynote address that he considers it a "great honor" to be named, along with his pastor, David Whitney, as a "hater" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Some Republican leaders have found a lot to like in Michael Peroutka. Some have publicly said that many of his views are conventional, conservative Republican views. However, his views on secession are not. And while they might be dismissed by some as a kind of genteel Southern eccentricity, Peroutka's support for the League of the South and Michael Hill go far beyond nostalgia for the bygone days of the Old South.
Michael Peroutka's neo-Confederate friend and supporter Michael Hill has advocated a program of assassination against journalists and elected officials. Voters have a right to know what Peroutka and other GOP leaders have to say about that.
Larry Hogan, Jr., the Republican candidate for governor in Maryland, issued a July 25 statement disavowing Peroutka because of his ties with the white nationalist group. Hogan campaign spokesman Adam Dubitsky said: "Larry absolutely disavows him. Those views have never been a part of the Republican Party and they never will." Other GOP candidates and officials are likewise expected to distance themselves from Peroutka.