Schoolchildren all across America are taught they live in the Land of the Free and that freedom of speech is a bedrock right. This is patently untrue, especially if one falls into any of these unfortunate demographic categories: Christian, white, Southern, or male. God help you if, like me, you fall into all four.
Aside from checking all four unfortunate demographic boxes, I was also a police officer. In 2015, at a time of great national hostility toward cops, I fell afoul of another kind of police—the Thought Police. Because of my past association with the League of the South, they came after me in the form of what may be the most effective and heinous institution that engages in such enforcement: the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
This is the story of how a group that was explicitly anti-racist was demonized by its opponents and later radicalized by one of its leaders. The guilt-by-association got me fired from my job, blackballed from my vocation, and scandalized in local, state, and national media.
While a student at the University of Alabama in 1995, I joined the League of the South, then in its infancy. The League argued that the Southern U.S. should be able to peaceably separate from Washington and be better off economically, culturally, politically, and spiritually. I met many pastors and intellectuals, some associated with Chronicles, for whom the League was an experiment in American...