Jack Hunter — formerly known as “The Southern Avenger” — is still the social media director for Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), even after the conservative website The Free Beacon published an exposé about the formerly neo-confederate, pro-secessionist shock jock Tuesday.
Hunter — who wrote a book with Paul in 2010 — is still employed by the senator, whom he reportedly advises on issues including foreign policy.
“Today’s article that brought my not-very-hidden radio pundit background to light does not accurately reflect me,” Hunter said in a statement. He added that he “abhors racism.”
The only comment Paul’s office offered about the revelations was a vague defense of Paul, and Hunter, by association. “Sen. Paul holds his staff to a standard that includes treating every individual with equal protection and respect, without exception,” spokeswoman Moira Bagley said in a statement.
Daniel McCarthy at The American Conservative was quick to defend Hunter, noting that his “Southern Avenger” persona was purposely “inflammatory” and not driven by “hate” but “naiveté.” McCarthy points out that Hunter is even for same-sex marriage!
Fox Business host Andrew Napolitano adamantly defended the aide and blamed the attacks on “some hawks.”
“Jack’s sin in their eyes was having spoken favorably of states’ rights, and negatively of Lincoln,” he said. “They can’t seem to recognize that states’ rights — even secession — does not equal racism; it constitutes a brake on the feds’ march to totalitarianism.”
The contention between “hawks” and libertarians represents a growing divide in the Republican Party that Paul is trying to bridge. In some of his older writings, Hunter suggested that the senator was “playing a game” with the neoconservatives by pledging his support to the defense of Israel.
Hunter told The Free Beacon he has disavowed many of the opinions expressed in his old blogs and columns — including the belief that John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot Abraham Lincoln, had his “heart in the right place.” Though he still believes that the Civil War was not necessary and may still advocate, as Napolitano does, for secession.
With his bridge building, Senator Paul is trying to do something his dad never could: become mainstream enough win the GOP nomination for president. Like his father, his efforts are occasionally hindered by the world views of the people he surrounds himself with.
The elder Paul’s new think tank includes several controversial figures, including some from whom the former congressman distanced himself during his presidential campaign. Walter Block, for instance, believes that the Confederacy should have won the Civil War, and that America’s current foreign policy can be blamed on “the monster Lincoln.”
The hatred of Abraham Lincoln — widely considered to be the greatest president in American history — by many in the libertarian movement is troubling to even some in the GOP. Prominent conservative commentator Rich Lowry recent wrote a whole book defending Lincoln ostensibly to his fellow Republicans, since the former president is widely adored by everyone else.
While Hunter many insist he despises racism, he seems to miss that race, for most Americans, cannot be extracted from any discussion of secession or the Civil War. They don’t seem to understand that if the South had succeeded in either, millions of African-Americans would have continued to languish in bondage.
“The deep connection between the Pauls and the neo-Confederate movement doesn’t discredit their ideas, but it’s also not just an indiscretion,” writes New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait. “It’s a reflection of the fact that white supremacy is a much more important historical constituency for anti-government ideas than libertarians like to admit.”
Photo: Mark Taylor via Flickr.com