Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Threats, Purges and Word Games at the Second Vermont Republic and Vermont Commons

(Two Updates have been added below on 9.16.10)

It's been nearly six months since I've written about the Second Vermont Republic and its propaganda journal, "Vermont Commons". Frankly, I'd hoped for the group to have assumed a more appropriate role by now - that of Vermont's most forgettable crackpot group of quasi-academics and cranks - but instead they continue with their charade of relevance.

In a barrage of increasingly shrill, churlish and inaccurate charges, if not outright lies, about alleged slander, they've made a ludicrous reference to a "proclaim(ation) that all 50,000 of the registered voters in Vermont who support secession were racists," allegedly perpetrated and suborned by various members of Vermont media. One need only watch the 1 minute and 20 seconds that starts at the 18:35 minute mark on the embedded Vermont Public Television September 3, 2010 episode of Vermont This Week below [1], to see and hear for one's self what Jon Margolis really said, which is a very fair cry from the "slander" alleged by Naylor and his sidekick, Rob Williams:
WebEditor's (Rob Williams) comment:

"Clearly, blogger Jon NEWS GUY Margolis (a left-leaning Vermont "news" writer I happen to read and often enjoy) has never really read Vermont Commons, nor does he seem to have any nuanced grasp of U.S. history, Vermont's own heritage as an independent republic, or the decentralist "beyond red and blue business as usual" politics of secession. What is particularly troubling here is that Vermont Public Television served as a platform for such nonsense, which any reasonable person would dub "slander." Maybe it is time to unchain the lawyers. More soon, and we'll be sure to post Margolis' clip here with commentary in the days ahead."
Fat chance with the lawyer thing, Rob. You've, as usual, got your facts all bollixed up. Margolis has obviously read your propaganda rag and has got the facts exactly right, despite your efforts to scrub them from the website - more on that below. I had no trouble locating the VPT VTW clip last week that you say that you couldn't locate to post then, and that you've yet to post as you'd promised. Given the content, it isn't surprising that you haven't gotten around to posting it.

UPDATE: 9.16.10 Glad to see that you're reading here again, Robbie! I noticed that you finally added the VPT vid to the body of your post within 12 hours of this blog post. Too bad it doesn't show on your front page, since someone reading your blog might then get to see it. Also, consider letting whoever might go back to see if you'd kept your word know where to find Jon Margolis' statement. I've found the attention span of most of your supporters to be a tad deficient and their minds might get distracted by some shiny thing before they get to the 18:35 minute mark. Just saying.

Fact is, if Margolis is to be accused of anything, it's of not also having been as explicit as he has in the past about VTCommons publishing the writings of a known white supremacist and anti-Semite, UVM professor Robert. S. Griffin. [2] Griffin has written extensively on the plight of white America and his desire for the good old days. [3] The piece Griffin wrote for Issue #2 of VTCommons has been expunged from the online issue but may still be read at Griffin's website or at VTCommons' occasional blogger, Susan Ohanion's website. The Southern Poverty Law Center has more on Griffin here.

Here is what Jon Margolis said about the secessionists on VPT's VTW:
"Two things: First, I'm not sure you'd call it left(ist) because, and I'm not talking about these particular ten (candidates) or Mr. Steele... But everyone should know that Vermont's secessionist movement has an unmistakable tinge of racist attached to it. If your read their journal... What's it called? Vermont Commons or something like that? This is... you see a lot of articles how the Civil War wasn't about slavery at all and things like that."

"The other thing is, I mean, we're not going to secede. I think we had that argument back in the early 1860's and nobody's going to secede and I don't think that very many Vermonters are interested in it."

(Use this link or the [1] above if the player doesn't start - VPT can play funky at times.)

Well, not so, argues Naylor. In fact, he claims that 50,000 registered voters (as opposed to his earlier claim of more than 60,000 voters) support the idea of secession in a recent Seven Days story on his quite shopworn, even to him, notion of Vermont secession. Following the example of his earlier purges of advisory board members and followers who failed to obsequiously follow whatever his theme for Vermont secession was at the time, such as Bill McKibben, Dan DeWalt, Robert Riversong, etc., Naylor has now labeled the thoughts of originator of the idea of Vermont secession, Frank Bryan, as "absurd."

Frank Bryan has joined the ranks of those expelled from Naylor's group by his removal from the advisory board at SVR. Perhaps even more interesting is that Seven Days writer, Shay Totten, has also been, if we're to believe anything Thomas Naylor says by now, eliminated from Naylor's inner circle, possibly because of what Totten wrote in his January 20, 2010 Fair Game column:
Turn On, Tune In, Secede
According to a 2006 poll conducted by the UVM Center for Rural Studies, roughly 8 percent of Vermonters supported peaceable secession from the United States.

On Friday, the pro-secessionist Second Vermont Republic announced a slate of statewide candidates it plans to run in the fall election in hopes of moving secession from theory to reality.

The group’s gubernatorial candidate is fifth-generation Vermonter and Kirby businessman Dennis P. Steele, founder and CEO of the Internet radio station Free Vermont Radio. Burlington-based auto salesman Peter Garritano is running for lieutenant governor.

Longtime political activist and former Burlington businessman Dennis Morrisseau, from Rutland County, is one of the group’s seven state senate candidates. Also running are: Gaelan Brown, Washington County; Bill Cruikshank, Rutland County; Craig Hill, Bennington County; Richard Jeroloman, Chittenden County; Peter Moss, Franklin County; and Robert Wagner, Addison County.

The party wants Vermont to revert to the independent republic it was between January 15, 1777, and March 4, 1791.

What would that look like?

“We seek a peaceable return of Vermont to a small, clean, green, rural, radical, non-violent, communitarian, sustainable, independent republic free and clear of the United States of America,” said SVR founder Thomas Naylor during the Montpelier press conference.


And who is keeping Vermonters from realizing nirvana?

Wall Street, corporate America, environmentalist Bill McKibben and the Israeli lobby. Not necessarily in that order.

Nice touch blaming the Jews, especially since SVR has been chided for its ties to neo-Confederate groups such as League of the South and the Abbeville Institute. These groups would like to see the South returned to its pre-Civil War roots. You know, white, Anglo and Christian. Racist? Nah.

McKibben received multiple mentions at the presser. That’s because he represents the Vermont left obsessed with quaint notions such as food independence and self-reliance, yet is willing to live under the yoke of the evil empire, said Naylor.

“I’m actually pretty close to a supporter of an independent Vermont,” said McKibben in an email to “Fair Game.” But it does strike me as odd to do it from a position of hating the U.S., which I don’t.”

Naylor has a theory about why 92 percent of Vermonters don’t openly support secession.

“Vermonters are in a state of denial,” said Naylor. “They are fat and happy and sassy.”

Now, there’s a campaign slogan.

In this scathing piece Naylor outs what he would have was Totten's close and previously undisclosed relationship with him. I'd had my own suspicions about Totten's ties to the secessionists back when he had assigned a known SVR member, Tim Matson, to write a story in the now defunct Vermont Guardian concerning a March 2007 debate at UVM between Paul Gillies and Frank Bryan, without disclosing Matson's association with SVR. Naylor's attacks on his onetime friends, Bryan and Totten, continued through this past summer [4] [5], though his falling out with his former advisory board member Bryan seems to have begun sometime last year. [6]

If you'd care to read a more concise history of Thomas Naylor and the SVR, rather than wade through the many posts on this blog or the fairytale-like history at SVR, where no mention is made of his numerous purges [7], read the two excellent pieces done by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report from the Summer and Fall issues of 2008.

Despite the suggestion that Naylor has put some distance between himself and the "formerly" racist League of the South, one need look no farther than Naylor's nearly Vermonter-free advisory board to find that neo-Confederate ideologues and longtime, past contributors to the League of the South's Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History, Thomas DiLorenzo (also known for his disdain for the 14th Amendment) and Donald Livingston, both well-known historical revisionists, continue to remain as SVR advisors, posts they have held for many years now. [8] [9] [10]

Thomas Naylor's Quest For Secession Takes A Turn To The Dark Side

UPDATE: 9.16.10 What a difference a day can make! Sometime early this morning the Dennis Steele campaign ditched the Che image from the banner at the top of their webpage. Here's how it looked last night:

Now if the Steele people would only have the decency to stop using the Vermont National Guard regimental flag while the Guard is under fire in Afghanistan and Iraq as his campaign prop...

Here is the text of Steele's statement published early this morning:
Retiring Che
A few weeks ago, I posted an essay entitled “The Green Mountain Revolution Starts Now,” which was accompanied by an image of Che Guevera superimposed on the Green Mountain Boys flag. It stirred up noticeable controversy among my supporters, many of whom interpreted it to mean that I supported a wide range of things, from communism to a one-party state to political violence. None of that, of course, is true; as I’ve stated publicly many times, I support a non-violent transition to an independent, multi-party Vermont Republic which deeply respects the rights of its citizens.

As such, the purpose of the use of Che’s image was to do what it did: stir up controversy and get the attention of the left-wing press. And it succeeded; shortly after the image went up, the movement received coverage in Counter-Punch and the Huffington Post. Many people on the left have long been deeply suspicious of state sovereignty and secession as a purely right-wing, “reactionary” thing – the Che flag was a tactic to help the readers of those pieces overcome their initial prejudice against secession by introducing it to them accompanied by a symbol of the left counter-culture. By pairing an alien idea with a familiar image, it challenged the idea that secession is the exclusive domain of the right.

Which is not to say that conservatives and libertarians don’t have a place in the secession movement. On the contrary, this movement (and my campaign) is about building a coalition of people of good conscience to oppose and resist the Empire by working for Vermont independence. Our supporters come from a wide variety of political backgrounds, and that diversity can and should be a source of our movement’s strength. In recognition of that, I will be retiring the Che flag for the remainder of the campaign. The only place it will remain will be on a hand-out I’ve produced which has it on one side and the snake of the Gadsden flag on the other, so as to symbolize the breadth of our movement’s diversity. In its place will be the Green Mountain Boys flag, unadorned. It is our hope that, one day, that flag will fly over an independent Republic; in the meantime, it is the banner of *all* of us who are working hard for a Free Vermont!

Dennis Steele [11]
Sure, Dennis. Robbie finally posts a video that was utterly findable when he said he couldn't get it up, and you're just using the image of a murderer to help confused Vermonters to get passed their "prejudices" to consider your floundering campaign. A little less contempt for the opinions of the majority of Vermonters might have kept you from making this dumb mistake in the first place. Nice spin, though.

Recently, Thomas Naylor's Second Vermont Republic website began displaying a disturbing alteration to the Vermont National Guard regimental flag. I say disturbing because Naylor's increasingly angry website rhetoric has grown to include a perverse combination of the Vermont National Guard's Green Mountain Boys flag with the image of Argentine Marxist revolutionary, Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

The use of the Jim Fitzpatrick stylized image [12] based on Alberto Korda's famous photo of Che called Guerrillero Heroico is allowed by Korda only to "those who wish to propagate his memory and the cause of social justice throughout the world" [13] Most will remember Che as an self-professed murderer and as the organizer and perpetrator of numerous summary executions and atrocities. Naylor's record of commitment to "social justice" is sketchily self-proclaimed. One need look no farther than the extensive coverage of the marriage equality debate in Vermont to find that Naylor took no part in that discussion and, so, absented himself from one of the premier "social justice" issues in Vermont of our day. That then leaves Che's record of violent revolutionary conduct for Naylor to memorialize through his use of that photo.

Thomas Naylor's annoited candidate for Vermont governor, Dennis Steele, also displays the Che icon superimposed on the on the Vermont National Guard regimental flag, much to the consternation of many of Steele's would-be supporters on Facebook. Seems his campaign asked for suggestions in addition to the Vermont National Guard's regimental flag about a month ago...
"What are some things that you feel convey the Free Vermont vision effectively. Obviously we've been using the GMB flag quite a bit; what else should we use? What should we avoid? And what's the reasoning behind your suggestions?"
...and got zero response from supporters. So it seems the Steele people took that as a green light for the Che thing which causes continued reaction. One supporter's post, in addition to all the other current negative reaction, is to "wonder about Naylor's sanity."

Gone from Naylor's recent writings are his earlier references to a "Genteel Revolution" or of any pretense at inclusion of the vast majority of the Vermont body politic in his future for Vermont. Naylor now denounces nearly all of Vermont's statewide office holders, legislators, lawyers, clergy, congressional delegation, media, evironmentalists, schools, colleges and its university while urging Vermonters to vote for his slate of secessionists. How very Che-ish of him to do so.

Frank Bryan, Naylor's defrocked longtime advisory board guru, now says:
“One of the problems with all the secessionists is they’re impatient,” says Bryan, who has turned his back on secession. “They want to go to the top immediately with candidates who really don’t have a lot of experience in governing.”

What candidates like Dennis Steele should do, Bryan argues, is run for school board and city council before seeking statewide office, to establish a record, gain experience and earn the trust of voters. [14]
If Naylor won't listen to common sense advice like that, it's little wonder that he's veered off into such batshit crazy imagery.

Naylor continues to peddle his very questionable poll results (see section on Polls in the column to the right) while desperately trying to gin up support for his candidate:
Naylor knows his candidates face an uphill battle. Even though one UVM poll suggested 13 percent of Vermonters favor secession, he doesn’t expect that to translate directly into votes. Naylor would be happy if Steele got 10 percent, he says, itself a lofty goal.

Naylor knows the word “secession” carries some very negative connotations. “Secession is anathema. Secession is failure. Secession is civil war. Secession is racism,” he admits with obvious frustration. “Those are hard things to overcome.” [14]
Yeah, and promoting a murderous scumbag like Che certainly isn't likely to translate into much of a plus at the polls. Be that as it may, Naylor now proposes to abandon the term "secession" in favor of a more trendy word - "liberation." Seems that he thinks since "secession" has an atrocious history and reputation for racism, failure and exclusion, "liberation" will attract more support for his pipedream:
"Unlike secession, liberation connotes success, not failure. [15]
Really? How's that working out for the Che and Fidel "liberation" movement? And does Naylor really have so much contempt for thinking Vermonters that he now thinks we'll be charmed by his use of "liberation" lipstick on his pig?

A true poll on how Vermonters really feel about SVR and Naylor's "secession/liberation" obsession should finally be out on November 3.


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