Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thomas Naylor's State of Denial About the Second Vermont Republic

Just when I thought that there wasn't much else that Thomas H. Naylor could do to make the Second Vermont Republic appear more ridiculous than it already is, he just climbs right back into that clown car and heads for the cliff.

On Monday, after having already insulted many millions of Americans by scheduling his poorly attended North-South Secession Summit celebratory dinner where he entertained Southern racist bigwigs from the League of the South in the Vermont capitol on the birth date of an American hero , Dr. Martin Luther King, Naylor issued a ludicrously entitled State of the Second Vermont Republic statement on the Martin Luther King Day holiday itself.   This followed closely on the heels of his equally ridiculous and pompous "Dispatch To The Governor Of Vermont: Mayday! The Ship Is Going Down!"   In Tom's comic opera, imaginary world where a Second Vermont Republic has come to exist, I suppose that it logically would fall to me to deliver the rebuttal to his, uh, address.

2007 was a very bad year indeed for Thomas Naylor's Second Vermont Republic.

It began with Vermont bloggers exposing his previously unnoticed connections to the white separatist organization called the League of the South.   Green Mountain Daily's John Odum and JD Ryan at five before chaos, as well as this small blog, spread the word about the previously unknown connections of SVR and Naylor to, and his outright support for, out-of-state racialist ideologues, Lincoln historical revisionists, a League of the South ex-con, gold "expert," and religious fanatics who proposed a theocratic, exclusionary, heterosexist state.   Initial reaction from SVR leaders was to engage in pure sophistry, likening any interaction with people such as the League of the South and Christian Exodus for the purpose of furthering mutual advancement and success, to that of supporting free speech. Hardly a fair comparison. It's one thing to advocate respect for a neo-Nazi to speak; it's quite another to help him to find the matches to light the ovens.

Alliances and Working With Racists and Anti-Semites

While Naylor regularly railed against the racism of the United States government, he clearly had no compunctions about inviting known racist ideologues to join his advisory board; or with jointly sponsoring conventions and "summits" with known white supremacist groups; or by participating repeatedly in hate radio station interviews with a well-known white supremacist, who is an ardent supporter of former Klansman and neo-Nazi, David Duke, and a proponent of holocaust denial, James Edwards of the Memphis based Political Cesspool, a fact that Naylor makes no mention of in his many boastful recitations of his press coverage.

Revanchism, Retrenchment and Recriminations

As outrage across the state mounted and the SVR leadership's response grew increasingly combative and offensive, to the point where Naylor sought to damage the employment of one blogger by lodging a false charge, the Vermont press began, for the very first time, to cover the SVR story as something more than a typical Vermont "story" of quirky cuteness.   Naylor cancelled a March public meeting fearing the growing public demand that he directly address the allegations and say, once and for all, that he would not ally Vermonters with out of state white supremacist organizations.   Vermont's Bread & Puppet Theatre ended its public relationship with SVR.   Naylor at SVR and Williams at VTCommons began a purge of members of the advisory board and editorial staff who raised questions and took issue with the policy of ignoring the possible racism of the out of state advisory boards members.   Community ire grew over Naylor and Williams unwillingness to transparently confront the concerns that had arisen, and not merely to the charges of a growing number of bloggers and journalists.   After author and environmentalist activist Bill McKibben's copyrighted works were abruptly removed from VTCommons this Spring, McKibben's environmental efforts were then criticized by Naylor.

Major Media Setbacks at Home

Even as SVR and VTCommons board members and editors were successfully orchestrating favorable, uncritical and "isn't that Vermont quirky" puff pieces in the national press, things at home took a decided turn for the worse.   Vermont newspapers echoed the concerns of most Vermonters and called on SVR to severe ties with its racist allies.   Vermont's Pulitzer prize winning newspaper, The Rutland Daily Herald printed an editorial opposing secession.   Writer and former Washington correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, and regular panelist on Vermont Public Television's "Vermont This Week," Jon Margolis, wrote a stinging op-ed lumping SVRers in with a cast of state "whiners."   At the height of statewide media and public furor of the growing revelations, and in perhaps SVR's greatest setback on the propaganda front, Vermont's largest award winning, weekly alternative publication, Seven Days, suddenly dropped a quarterly distribution deal of 40,000 copies of Vermont Commons, run by then SVR co-chair Rob Williams. The VTGuardian, which had also distributed VTCommons in its early days and had permitted an SVR member to write uncritical and largely favorable articles in the past without disclosing his relationship to the group, also called on SVR and VTCommons to disassociate themselves from racist and Christian Identity elements of the secession movement.

The Poll

As a part of a concerted plan to show that support for secession exists and is growing, SVR/Naylor has repeatedly alluded to a "UVM poll" in 2007 called the Vermonter Poll that shows support for secession grew from 8% of eligible Vermont voters in 2006 to 13%.   Problem is that there is no published poll from UVM showing those results, just the claim from Naylor and his colleagues.   This blog discovered and published the first questions and methodology (see links section at right), and serious questions remain about who, in fact, created the poll, as well as the validity and value of the results.   Worse still has been the national media's failure to perform its obligation for due diligence in merely repeating Naylor's questionable assertions about the poll.   In a Summer interview on The Political Cesspool Naylor admitted that SVR had commissioned the poll.   Will Thomas Naylor release the questions that he used for his poll in 2007 for comparison to his questions in the 2006 poll?   If they differ, it's unlikely that he'd release them as that would further undermine his claims about support.


In the late Spring, Naylor announced the formation of an SVR Legislative Team.   Naylor named Peter Moss as the team's leader whose stated "objective is to recruit, support, and eventually elect enough secessionists to call a statewide convention to consider and adopt articles of secession calling for the return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic."   Moss spoke to a nearly empty Vermont State House Chamber on January 14 of this year.   No Vermont legislator, statewide office holder or member of Vermont's Congressional delegation has indicated support for SVR or secession in any fashion whatsoever.   No Town Meeting has indicated that they will carry a question about secession, let alone the 200 that is now being reported by out-of-state pro-secessionists.   In an apparent concession to its obvious lack of any success whatsoever, SVR has deleted all reference to its legislative team from its website.

In the Fall of 2006, the SVR announced that it had three strategic objectives:
1. Approval of articles of secession by a two-thirds majority of a state convention called by the Vermont legislature.
2. Recognition of the independent Republic of Vermont by the U.S. government and the international community.
3. Political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental sustainability.
So far, SVR has been completely unsuccessful in each of these endeavours.


In his address Thomas Naylor denied a charge that to the best of my knowledge has never been publicly made, and so that denial now raises more important questions.   Who has paid for the print run and distribution of VTCommons?   Who subsidises the conferences, summits, dinners and travel stipends to which SVR brings its racist colleagues from the League of the South?   Who paid for the 2006 and 2007 Center for Rural Studies/UVM "Vermonter Poll"?

Questions for SVR in 2008

Will SVR continue to alienate so many Vermonters by failing to confront its deeply troubling affiliations with racist groups and theocratic ideologues?   Will Thomas Naylor abandon committing deeply offensive symbolic acts that violate the sensibilities of the average Vermonter, such as his recent meeting with the white supremacist League of the South on Martin Luther King's birth date?   Will Thomas Naylor persist in incorporating Vermont into his goofy Potemkin village built of phony polls, of grand sounding pronouncements about empty programs and of insults directed at virtually all segments of the state's community?   The answer is, only if his agenda is not that of the Southern racists to whom he has given so much of his effort and allegiance to advance.
Who knows what new revelations will come out in 2008 concerning Thomas Naylor and his friends at SVR and VTCommons, as well as his many friends in the neo-Confederate community?   Well, here's a sign of the direction that Naylor may be heading in from a recent grand sounding pronouncement issued by SVR:
Lakota Independence Resolution

Be it resolved that the citizens of the Second Vermont Republic do hereby recognize the Lakota Indians as a separate and independent nation with whom we pledge our solidarity and support.

Be it further resolved that other Native American tribes also be encouraged to declare their rightful independence from the United States of America.

January 15, 2008
The Second Vermont Repubic [1]
After having looked at quite of few of the hundreds of stories written about this so-called secession of the Lakota nation, that may in fact be nothing more than another small group like Naylor's, rather than the Lakota tribal council, it's clear that SVR hasn't a firm grasp of the many issues involved in this incident.   But I'll save that for another post, like perhaps when Naylor names an ambassador or diplomatic delegation to the "new" Lakota nation.

Stay tuned.


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