According to conservative news site The Washington Free Beacon, Jack Hunter, who currently serves as the senator's new media director, spent his part of his 20s as a member of the League of the South, a group which "advocates the secession and subsequent independence of the Southern States from this forced union and the formation of a Southern republic." In 1999, Hunter was listed as chairman of the group's Charleston, S.C., chapter.
While the League of the South maintains that it is not racist, Mark Pitcavage, the director of investigative research at the Anti-Defamation League, told the Free Beacon that the League of the South is an "implicitly racist group."
"When I was part of it, they were very explicit that's not what they were about," Hunter told the Free Beacon. "I was a young person, it was a fairly radical group - the same way a person on the left might be attracted in college to some left-wing radical groups."
But Hunter's troubling past doesn't end there. In the early 2000s, Hunter, now 39, began contributing anonymous political commentary to the South Carolina radio station 96 Wave, under the moniker the "Southern Avenger." According to the Free Beacon, as the "Southern Avenger," Hunter would wear a mask printed with a Confederate flag to public appearances.
According to transcripts of monologues reviewed by the Free Beacon, Hunter's commentaries in the 2000s included assertions that Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth's heart was "in the right place," that white people are subject to a "racial double standard," and that a "non-white majority America would simply cease to be America for reasons that are as numerous as they are obvious - whether we are supposed to mention them or not."
At other times, Hunter equated the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and said that "[w]hether for Israel or oil, or both, a permanent U.S. foothold in the Middle East has been the primary neoconservative goal since day one and certainly since long before 9/11."
While Hunter defended his secessionist views in print as recently as 2009, the Free Beacon reported that he "renounced most of his comments" during an interview on Monday.
"There's a lot of people who write in print and radio that go out and beat their chests and try to just say the craziest things they can because that's how you make a living. For awhile that's how I made a living," said Hunter. "And it's not that you don't mean it--it's just you express it in ways that does more harm than good."
That said, Hunter declined to tell the Free Beacon that he no longer supports secession, saying only that the issue is "sort of a dead letter."
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